Sunday, July 26, 2009

Violence (sorry, that should be "V I O L E N C E")

VIOLENCE, like GLOBAL WARMING and THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS, is one of those things in regards to which everybody has an agenda. It's also one of those areas of scientific research that's almost invariably slanted and littered with whatever the researchers happen to think 'violence' actually is. That determines the questions asked, and as we should all know by now—'should', but obviously don't—questions pretty much determine the likely answers.

All the more refreshing then to read that there are people who obviously have discerned the problem, as they talk about...

...the need for a more general conceptualization of the effects of exposure to TV violence, one that takes into account personality differences, ethnic differences, the social context in which TV is viewed, variations in the dramatic context, and other potentially significant moderating factors.

Indeed, video game violence isn't TV violence, isn't cinema violence, isn't book violence. And within each of those violence-delivery media there are huge differences of the meaning and purpose, or complete lack thereof, of violence. Each will have completely different effects on the audience, because what matters is not the violence itself, but the story within which violence appears. And, let's face it, every story that holds any interest value to adults will contain some form of violence—occasioned by conflict, which is the source not only of violence, but also the driving force behind all 'story'; something that has far reaching consequences, especially for a 'narrative' view of the human mind. The only question about the violence in narrative, is whether it's physical or psychological—or both, of course. This may be denied by the arty-farty movie crowd, for example, but in the final analysis a spade is a spade, no matter what you paint on it.

Also—and this is really needed here—we need a simple reality check on the whole 'violence' debate, which is provided by what you might call 'real life'. For, at least in my experience, the violence experienced in life, especially of the psychological side, tends to be much more in-your-face and have a greater impact on the development of people—meaning mostly children and young people, because that's who's being studied in all the media-violence research—than anything the media serve up. The often outright brutality and inherently oppressive nature, at all levels, of the growing-up environment almost all children are exposed to even in the so-called 'civilized' world—think of your average 14 years of compulsory 'school'!—surely screws them up more than any TV or movie violence ever will.

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