Lights, Camera, Violence! “Packed with nonstop action and adventure!” We hear this quote all the time when previewing movie trailers. It seems all they show on these trailers are the violent scenes, for example, the blowing up of police cars, the gunfights, and sometimes even worse than that. Why does this interest us? I believe it is because happiness and tranquility does not grasp the attention of the audiences anymore. An example of this is how well Bad Boys 2 did in reviews as opposed to From Justin to Kelly.
It is a known fact that violence appeals more to viewers more than anything else. Look at video games today; they even have ratings on them because of the gore and violence. As a result, people tend to resort to violence faster in a crisis situation rather than by peaceful alternatives; viewers prefer watching a violent film rather than a romance etc. because it gets their adrenaline rushing; and viewers want to see Hollywood’s opinion on who they will victimize next. Why were Justin and Kelly’s reviews so bad? The Washington post states “it’s because no one wants to see the same material about a guy meeting a girl, they want to see action!” Sadly the media glorifies violence. Worldwide, viewers rely on death and destruction as a source of entertainment; even love stories end in some way of violence or misery, like Romeo and Juliet, the greatest love story of all time.
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People respond more to violence. Since the Roman Empire, human nature has been to enjoy violent scenes of other people’s sufferings, like when they throw someone into the lion’s den and use that as entertainment. There are aggressive trends in human nature that can either be strengthened or disciplined, but society today chooses to strengthen them. It is an extremely negative and dangerous message. It enforces these aggressive tendencies which tell people it is acceptable to be violent. Violence puts an approval on these acts especially when it serves dominant prejudices against minorities or other human beings, for instance violence against women.
Films often show men abusing and treating women as inferiors like the movie with Jennifer Lopez “Enough.” She ended up learning to defend herself. How many movies have come out showing women mistreating men? There is a very small count, if any. Violence against women changes viewers’ opinions; it makes the idea of abusing the women more acceptable and leads to the mistreatment of women just by the influence they have seen in film and / or television. This entertainment also reflects women as the inferior gender.
Violence, when used in media against other social groups, is used to dehumanize and rob these groups of the respect that they deserve. The media serves the purpose of dehumanizing. It erases the chance of sympathizing, for example cowboys vs. Indians. Young children all day watch cartoons of cowboys shooting Indians like it is nothing, basically teaching these children that it is acceptable to dehumanize and disregard a certain race or certain ethnic group.
Also crimes done by African Americans have tarnished their image as equals and as an important race. For example, in almost any film or television show the antagonist is shown as African American or some other minority. In the movie “Daredevil” the majority of the cast was caucasian, and then there’s the antagonist who’s African America. It creates suspicion towards other races in that when people see an African American walking down the street, they might think the worst of them and have a negative prejudice towards them all because of the way the media portrays them.
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Why do they use violence in the media? Point blank, because it sells. It caters to the lowest instinct in man. It is cheap entertainment that does not address the intellect. Not many people come out of a movie theatre and analyze the movie they just saw. Viewers leave the movies happy knowing the antagonist has been murdered. Violence as a means has become more acceptable as an alternative to resolve issues.
For example, in Bad Boys 2, why did they kill the antagonist instead of arresting him? Because Hollywood knows people will not pay to see that. This is an image of violence that the media makes. Sympathy is never shown for the victim, media manipulates us into thinking they should be dead, and why should we feel bad for the victim. We are once again manipulated by the message that television and film creators are sending us into thinking they deserve to die. The worst message that it sends is that it enforces stereotypes, the idea that other people are inferior.
Take Arabs for example. Arabs are the subject of many films that are derogatory, ignorant, and harmful. They are shown as dirty terrorists, womanizers, sneaky and stingy. Hollywood has made money off of this portrayal which has created a huge misunderstanding of Arabs. It causes one once again to create negative impressions based on negative media portrayal.
When violence is shown towards a certain ethnic group, no matter what, it always sticks and these reputations are forever offensive towards these certain groups and / or backgrounds. Images are a powerful weapon; they can tarnish a whole culture and a whole nation. Not only is violence manipulative but it can be very influential. For example, the Columbine massacre could have been prevented had there not been so much violence created by the media. We cannot say that it has strictly been all the violence in the media that influenced these kids into committing such a horrendous crime, but we can say it had a great deal of influence. For instance, the NRA (National Rifle Association) has an eminent connection with the media as a way to portray and advertise weapons as valuable personal belongings.
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When we see these weapons in films and television programs, it is as if the character in these shows has a personal relationship with their weapons, or as if their weapons mean more to them then anything else. This type of violence can be portrayed as a subconscious way of getting viewers to think they should go out and purchase these weapons to get that special “bond” with them. In the Columbine case, it was basically an easy way for the NRA and the media to make money by catering to the aggression apparent in teenage behavior. The sad thing is, no matter how hard we fight to banish or reduce violence in movies and television, it will only intensify. In today’s society, PG-13 films get away with so much more then they used to; basically it is only getting worse. There are other alternatives to avoiding this negative influence.
Instead of going to the movies for social events, one can try other options. Here is the main fact; violence in the media affects violence in real life. Except in real life the victims do not receive an award they receive a death certificate. It is sad that the only way television shows and movies receive their ratings is by the amount of violence the creators choose to put in it. Maybe that is why From Justin to Kelly did not do well, because it did not cater to the needs of the movie going population which is dominated by lazy teenagers searching for an easy adrenaline rush caused by violence in the media. The influence of violence can either control your life or you can choose to control your own life..