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How Is Violence In The Media Perceived In Society

The world today has a variety of problems and violence is one of the most
prominent. It is seen on the front page of the newspaper and as the Top Story
on the eleven oclock news. Unfortunately, it is also widely used for
entertainment purposes. In the New York Times a 1998 article by Faye Fiore
stated: “On average last year, one act of serious brutality was found for every
four minutes of entertainment.” Today, violence is a major part of electronic
games, television, and the film industry. Violence becomes such an everyday
scene for us that many believe it desensitizes us to the real world. That is why
the majority of the time violence is perceived as the cause of many of societys

One individual who feels this way is the author John Grisham. John Grisham had
a friend who was killed by two young lovers whom he believed were influenced by
the Oliver Stone film Natural Born Killers. This belief was not
unsubstantiated. The young female said that the two lovers watched the film
shortly before embarking on their journey. She said that her boyfriend was
greatly influenced by the film. Grisham was extremely angry at the way the
killers, Micky and Mallory, violent lifestyles were glamorized in the film.

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Grisham felt that this type of glamorization leads the youth of America to
approve of this type of lifestyle.

Oliver Stone disagreed with Grisham. Stone believes that violence is in some
instances necessary for an artist to get the point of his work across. He
believes that an artists freedom of speech allows him to do whatever he wants
to in his work regardless of the social implications. Stone condones violence in
the media.

Another area of the media where violence is perceived as entertainment is the
electronic gaming industry. There is a game called Soldier of Fortune which was
is scheduled to be released soon in the US. This game is designed along the same
lines as games such as DOOM and Quake; but it has one important difference it is
often advertised as one of the most violently realistic games ever. Shots to the
head result in a variety of results such as caved in faces, heads split in half,
heads with the top removed exposing the brain, and complete removal of the head
all together. Needless to say this is one of the most highly anticipated games
ever. The attention to gory details and the use of excessive violence as a
selling point shows how much violence is perceived as entertaining.

Whether we admit it to ourselves consciously or not, violence is and has always
been entertaining. In ancient Rome, citizens filled the coliseum to see
gladiators fight to the death. In medieval times castle courtyards were packed
with people trying to witness the public executions. Today we are able to
witness violent acts in the comfort of our own homes. If we want to see some
gladiators fight to the death we can just go find one of our favorite movies or
Playstation games. This shows that main perception of violence in society is
that it is entertaining and accepted for its entertaining qualities.

Not all representations of the media perceive violence as entertainment. One
representation is in the film Full Metal Jacket. Violence is shown to be a
somewhat necessary evil that society can not escape. In one specific scene
containing violence, the squad comes upon an apparently deserted city only to
find out that it is occupied by a hidden sniper who quickly disables one squad
member to the horror of the rest of the squad. They want to help the fallen
soldier but they would be putting themselves in danger of being sniped. The
sniper, who realizes this, continues to shoot the fallen soldier to try and lure
his squad in to help him. This torture is to much for one member of the squad to
handle. This soldier then attempts to rescue his fallen comrade. Unfortunately
he is sniped and receives the same torture that his friend did. All to the
horror of the rest of the squad who is torn between saving their friend and
risking the loss more soldiers. Everytime that the fallen soldiers is shot, it
is shown in slow motion with the agonizing scream of the soldier echoing in the
background. The scream and the gunshot are the only sounds heard. The purpose of
this was to show the viewer of the film that this war and the violence in it
were very real. There was no groovy music playing whenever a gun fired. This is
real life and real death and it is not a pretty picture.

In a recent issue of the Boston Globe there was an article about H. Rap Brown
on the front cover. This article received a very visible headline and was
continued deeper in the paper along with many other Brown articles. In contrast
there was an small unnoticeable article, on the murder of a poor Russian
immigrant and her son, buried in the Metro section. These examples show the
discrepancy in perceptions of violence among different groups. The middle class
predominately white makers of the paper felt that the arrest of a former black
militant who killed two police officers was much more important than an
immigrant and her son being murdered. This shows that people perceive violent
acts differently depending on how they feel about the people involved.

Another representation of violence is the movie Lethal Weapon 4. In a
particular scene in this movie the two main characters, Riggs and Murtaugh,
along with an acquaintance are in a small personal boat when the see a large
commercial which almost hits them. When the two officers attempt to identify
themselves to the crew on the commercial boat, they begin firing with large
automatic weapons. This prompts the two cops two strike back. The wild one of
the bunch decides to go on the ship to take care of things. Upon exiting the
small boat he says Cover Me. Immediately after he says this one of the Chinese
crewmembers emerges at the aft the commercial boat and fires with his automatic
weapon. The level-headed member of the group fires one shot at this man scoring
a direct hit. Needless to say, the two (one?) men are able to take over the ship
and rescue the hostages kept below deck. This movie gives a very unrealistic
view of violence where the good guys always win and where they can commit any
violent act they want and they do not have to face any consequences. The two
main characters commit a ridiculous amount of murders yet they walk off into the
sunset with little if anything said to them. This movie only portrays violence
as bad when committed by the bad guys.

In general, violence is mainly perceived as entertainment. But as stated
earlier the perception of the violence depends greatly on the viewer, reader, or
listener. Although the use of violence for entertainment can have harmful
effects on the youth who experience it, it is up to the parents to regulate and
moderate what their children watch. They cant use the television for a
babysitter and then complain about how the violence on TV affects them. They
must be active in raising their own kids, because good parenting starts with the

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