No Universal Criteria for Evaluating Media Violence
In a famous speech in 1995, Bob Dole, in an effort to gain more conservative support for his impending Republican Presidential Nomination, unleashed a damning indictment of the movie industry, seemingly unprovoked and somewhat puzzling. (Lacayo) Dole's speech and especially the rebuttals to it raise many questions central to the debate over violence in film: is violence destructive to impressionable viewers, is violence critical to the success of the industry, does violence have aesthetic value, who decides what is violent, and if something is found to be violent, should it be banned? By going beyond Dole's speech to carefully examine these questions, it is found that regardless of its effects on younger viewers, violence in film should be unhindered due to its benefit to it's industry, it's entertainment value, and the fact that the definitions of the term cannot be agreed on by the parties involved.
In 1997, the top ten grossing films (as of the end of the year), all contained the basic element of violence: someone physically striking someone else. These 10 films alone accounted for $1,672,200,000 domestically, which, in combination with the rest of the monetary intake of the other 130 major studio releases, represent a huge portion of the Gross National Product. By the end of 1997, the same ten films amassed $1,444,000,000 in foreign markets, making the products of the American film industry account for a large portion of money made through exportation. Those of these films released on video by the end of 1997 accounted for another $640,200,000 in the video market. (Kilday) So the current U.S. economy is partially dependent on the money made through the f...
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...ll to Arms, minus the war. Film is a form of expression, one wildly popular and in today's culture and very important to the U.S. economy, that cannot be hindered for the simple fact that a universal criteria for evaluating violence in it cannot be created.
Kilday, Gregg. "For Richer or Poorer." Entertainment Weekly 30 January 1998: 34-37.
Lacayo, Richard. "Violent Reaction." Time 12 June 1995: 24-30.
Lion King, The. Dir. Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff. Perf. Mathew Broderick and Nathan Lane. Walt Disney Productions.
Natural Born Killers. Dir. Oliver Stone. Perf. Woody Harrelson and Juliet Lewis. Warner Bros., 1994.
Pulp Fiction. Dir. Quentin Tarantino. Perf. John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. Miramax, 1994.
True Lies. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. Twentieth Century Fox, 1994.