We've all heard it before. Blame it on TV, or the movies. If a child bludgeons another child to death with a wrench or shoots a classmate, it is the violent TV programs that they watch which are to blame, not the parents or the supervisors who are supposed to be there to make sure their kids do the right thing. How far is it true that the media is responsible for trivialising death and violence, thus causing the children of America to go out on shooting rampages, or kids in Britain to murder innocent toddlers?
First let us look at the way the media portrays death. Death has always been a taboo subject. People do not usually sit around talking about death, especially to children. It may be for that reason that children do not really understand the concept of dying. We constantly see instances in cartoons where a character is killed, but in the next scene, that same character is alive and well again. The fact is that they do not actually die. Characters like Warner Bros. Wild E Coyote never die. They always get up after apparently perishing in a violent way. The South Park character, Kenny, dies a violent death in every single episode (with the exception of the Christmas Special), and that is supposed to be funny. Death is trivialised by the media, and in addition, parents avoid talking about death to their kids, for fear of scaring them, but unknowingly reinforcing the assumption that death is not something to be taken seriously. Death can be described as follows: "It (death) sells newspapers and insurance policies, invigorates the plots of our television programs, and - judging from our dependency on fossil fuels (84.5% of all U.S. energy consumption in 1995) - - even pow...
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...so complex, so contradictory that it is virtually impossible to rule out all other variables to simply measure this one factor." (Death in the mass media). In other words, due to our different ideologies and perspectives, people react to things differently. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain whether violent acts committed by youth are a direct result of the violence and death they see on TV and in the movies. Who knows, the media may even be helping people develop a healthier attitude towards death.
Death - An inquiry into man's mortal weakness. "Death in the mass media" http://library.thinkquest.org/16665/mass.htm
Kearl, Michael. Kearl's Guide to Sociological Thanatology. "Sociology of Death and Dying" http://www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/death.html
Romei, Stephen. "US recoils: Boy, 6, guns down classmate" The Australian 2 March 2000:10
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