Killer TV

Violence has been around since the beginning of human life. Violence was used to gain the independence of the US and end the era of slavery. Violence may be a bad solution to problems, but violence can be used to better situations. Naturally violence is viewed on TV as well. Of course, there are people in this world that mix up the two and sometimes the consequence of this mix up can be severe. But if TV really were that bad for everyone, wouldn’t TV have been outlawed already? TV may be violent, but TV doesn’t make people violent.

Violence is everywhere, and it cannot be covered up or shut down. Critics of TV violence argue that even health organizations state that there is a link between violent television shows, movies, music lyrics and video games to violence in children. If the statement were true, would we have given so much publicity to the airplane crash of 9/11, or have televised the whole war in Iraq? Were these events not as or more violent than children’s TV shows? We can start with TV violence, but where would we draw the line?

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Without TV, children are still able to access violent movies, violent video games, and comic books. The problem is not the TV, it is violence and violent behavior, which unfortunately is part of human nature and cannot be boxed up and stored away. If TV violence depicted real life, a gun shot wound or a knife in the stomach wouldn’t scare as many people as they do. A good example of this was the assassination of President Reagan. TV has taught most people to think that when a person is shot, that person would clutch the wound, cough blood out and collapse because of all the pain.

But in real life and in the movie depicting the assassination of President Reagan, President Reagan did the opposite. Only after “complaining of a vague chest pain and taken to the hospital did President Reagan discover his wound. Medically proven, a gun shot can only kill instantly when the bullet is shot at a small area at the base of the brain” (Oppenheim 601). Otherwise, a gun shot victim in real life would be seen moaning and groaning from pain and asking for a doctor. The most real-life violent program children have ever watched on TV before is probably a boxing match.

In order to have children understand the message of how cruel violent behavior is, TV should show them what real injuries look like from fighting or being stabbed with a knife. Children should see how dirty, painful, bloody and disgusting violence can be and how violence only makes problems worse, not better. After all, “in some parts of the world where children do not have computers and do not play video games, engaging in real fighting, throwing stones at each other, and getting injured on a daily basis is children’s play” (Nikolaos, Ioannidis. Video games and desensitization to violence.

Mike Oppenheim stated it best when he said “children cannot learn to enjoy the cruelty from the neat, sanitized mayhem on the average series. There isn’t any! ” (Oppenheim 601). The TV violence debate has been around ever since the TV was invented; politicians, humanists and all other kinds of activist groups have spoken out publicly against TV violence. But have we ever seen doctors give scientific proof that TV violence produces violent people? Have we ever heard of doctors stating that watching TV violence trigger nerves in the brain to cause violent actions?

The statement linking TV violence to violent behavior in children is a “political one, not one based on any conclusive, scientific evidence” (Arvidson 592). Jonathan Freedman, a professor in the University of Toronto Department of Psychology, stated that some studies do suggest a link between TV violence and violent behavior in children, but that “the majority of them [studies] do not. Normally, in science, you expect to get consistent results” (Arvidson 593). In order for TV violence to be taken more seriously and more practically, scientific proof must back up all statements critics of TV violence make.

Part of the reason social science has failed to make the argument is that policies at all major American universities clearly prohibit the demonstration of real violence in experimental settings. Despite these policies, there are other things you can do in an experiment. You can “show a subject filmed violence and ask him if he would be more likely to commit similar aggression if someone insulted him. You can even give him the opportunity, after watching some violent footage, to administer (supposed) shock to an opponent in some competitive contest after the opponent angered him.

You can even get him or her to pummel a doll” (Fischoff, Stuart. The Media-Violence Connection: Not Proven! http://www. wga. org/craft/violence. html). But despite these acceptable experiments, researchers cannot prove that a human being, subject to violent movies, will pick up a gun and shoot somebody who has insulted him. Aggression has a factor in violence too. Aggression is a trigger in the human brain as a means of survival, not a trait learned from a cartoon or video game. Aggression “is not a learned thing.

It is an instinctive response to real or feared dangers that threaten an individual’s life and happiness. People never become aggressive because they saw similar behavior on screen. They are aggressive if and when they have a reason to be” (Potter, James. The 11 myths of Media Violence. Sage Publications, 2003). There are, on the other hand, legal cases where defendants on trial for murder or other acts of violence argue “that they were influenced by viewing such films as Natural Born Killers or Scream or listening to a Tupac Shakur CD.

Invariably it turns out that either drugs or alcohol were involved and/or the defendant had a history of psychopathology or active, violent, anti-social behavior” (Graham, Irene. Facts, Fallacies & Urban Myths re Censorship. http://libertus. net/censor/fallacies. html). Until the proof is provided, TV violence will still exist and will continue to be viewed by children. On the other hand, children are so fragile and young and can be so easily influenced by things around them. As mature adults, we must make sure our children learn the best and understand the difference between right and wrong.

TV violence may not be a factor in violent behavior in children, but it is safe to assume that “perhaps more damaging are the false messages that media violence sends” (Tepperman 619). Allowing children to watch violent shows without informing them the difference between what they see on the television and what happens in real life is one of the main reasons children become violent. No one tells them right from wrong when they are a child, and these children continue on with life thinking TV will always be right. An example of the “kind of messages TV violence teaches kids is the message that violence is often justified.

Most of the violence on television is initiated by the hero, and therefore the hero is never punished for his violent acts when a compromised could have been found” (Tepperman 619). This example also teaches kids that violence seldom has consequences, and unless an adult teaches the children otherwise, children will go on living knowing no difference. It takes an extreme amount of effort to protest to the government, to rally supporters and to prove scientifically that TV violence really does have a link to violent behavior.

But it’s a lot easier to just change the channel or push the off button when our children are watching certain violent programs. Instead of blaming the media and entertainment industries for the rise of violent behavior in people, why not blame the parents who neglected to teach their kids between right and wrong, or teach them the difference between what they see in TV and what happens in real life. TV may be violent, but it’s up to the person to decide how they act outside their living room and out in the real world.