Violence in Media

With the impending release of the latest installment of Grand Theft Auto, a game which has been mired in controversy since its original iteration in 1997, a national conversation regarding violence in the media will undoubtedly begin anew. For those unfamiliar with the game, it allows a player engage in a wide array of illicit activities and in general saturates the user with digital violence that opponents of violence in the media have pointed to as the decline of civilized entertainment that will eventually unravel our society unleashing a post apocalyptic wasteland of Thunderdome-esque proportions. Unlike the late 90s, however, statistical evidence has been collected demonstrating the exact opposite trend within American society. Simply put, criminal activity has decreased since 2002, even with all of the violence the average person is exposed to through entertainment media.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics released its annual report of criminal victimization for 2011 in October of 2012 and presents some clear findings on crime rates, namely a steady decrease in violent crimes and property crime. From 2002 to 2011 violent crime not including murder reported to the police dropped 32%, with violent crimes excluding murder not reported to the police but still occurring dropped 29%. Property crime, including motor vehicle theft, dropped 22% in reported crimes with a 15% drop thefts that took place but were not reported to the police. These statistics included victims ages 12 and older. These are incredibly strong downward trends indicating that violence in entertainment is not even remotely causing an increase in violent behavior within society.

Is violent media good for kids? Certainly not all subjects are appropriate for the very young, and entertainers have adopted rating systems to warn parents of potentially inappropriate content for just such a reason. However, to deny that violence is a part of our genetic and cultural history seems foolish and violent entertainment provides an outlet for people to explore their own nature. Ultimately, the increasing inclusion of violent content in media has not affected society in a negative way and will continue to play an important part in how we as a people tell stories worth hearing.

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4 thoughts on “Violence in Media

  1. Violent media doesn’t really have an effect on kids because they see what the consequences are for the action they commit within the video games they play. For example, in Grand Theft Auto, if a player decides to kill someone, they automatically get chased around by the law enforcement. The reason why violent games and media doesn’t really affect people of our age is because companies, such as Rockstar, the maker of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, make the games as realistic as possible. You get wanted for every little crime you do, from killing someone to simply punching people on the street. Kids nowadays play these games and there’s no stopping them. You are right when you point out it is part of our culture, the entertainment business wouldn’t be the same without violence. People and young adults crave this violence, it is something media can’t and won’t change. In a way, violence in games or movies or anything else is good because we as people see what will happen if we commit the violent acts we see or do in games and watch in movies.

  2. Thanks for the very insightful information. After watching my husband play GTA 5, I can see why there was much controversy. The new GTA seems to have more detail driven violence capabilities. I wonder if even despite the statistics on the decrease in violence in our society or the previous years will soon raise more questions as to whether or not we should be concerned about our society. In the news over the past few years we’ve heard about the guy who shot up the theatre, the shootings at the elementary school, and many more. It is very understandable as to why this would raise concern even today, despite the drop in crime. While at the game store last night for the release of GTA 5, I observed many parents with their children waiting in line to grab their copy of GTA 5. Even despite the ratings for the game. This is something that should raise controversy in my opinion.

  3. Violent media is part of life for nearly every child in the world. It can be a good or a bad thing for children depending on how the child is brought up. For me I think it’s a good thing. It helps the child to understand what is going on around the world. Most of the game that are violent, that’s what happening in some countries in the world. It helps with the kids that are violent in nature. Most of the time when they are angry, they can go and play their game and put their anger in there before going outside and avenging on people. The only bad thing about these games is that it makes the kids so lazy that to go and exercise is always a problem. They will spend all their time playing. It sometime educates them too they can learn a lot from these games too.

  4. Growing up I played a plethora of video games ranging from purely educational to purely fun. My older brother favored playing games that involved violence and weapons. Grand Theft Auto was definitely my favorite game growing up. I started playing it around 11 years old which some people would consider too young to be playing a game with such explicit content. Even though I was so young I loved playing it because I was able to be destructive and play the role of criminal sitting on my living room floor drinking a juice box and eating goldfish. As I got older I became more interested in completing missions over just stealing cars and running over people in the streets. I believe that violent video games can be a great outlet for a person to express the violent energy we carry as humans. I don’t believe that Grand Theft Auto should be blamed for violent crimes because it is based on those very crimes that were being committed before the game was created. Games are for playing and really shouldn’t be held completely accountable for some kids who were neglected by their parents and given access to real weapons that they used to shoot up their high school.

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