A Review of Barry Glassner's Culture of Fear

A Review of Barry Glassner's Culture of Fear

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Culture of Fear, by Barry Glassner

"Culture of Fear" is a book that describes that it is our perceptions that dangers have increased, and so much the actual level of risk. Glassner explains in all of his chapters how people and organizations use our fears as a way to increase their profit. Glassner also states about the prices we pay for our panics and all the time and energy we spend worrying. Americans are afraid because of the media's broadband expose of crime, violence, drugs and diseases.

Dangers on roadways is an issue that describes the discrepancy between perception and reality of road rage. The media, for some odd reason, tends to make road rage a huge controversial issue. As seen on talk shows from Oprah Winfrey to CNN, they reveal to people that road rage could happen at any time and to always be looking over your shoulder. These talk shows and news programs also put fear into our minds by explaining that most roadragers often use guns to kill or injure their victims. Glassner contradicts the media's speculations by stating that out of approximately 250,000 people killed on roadways between 1990-1997, AAA attributed that one in one thousand was an act of road rage (pg.5).

Metaphoric Illness also contributes to our fears. One huge issue of the 1990's was GWS, Gulf War Syndrome. The media depicted sick veterans in wheel chairs or beside their deformed children (pg.156) to show us what effect GWS has on its victims. The New England Journal of Medicine did a study comparing 33,998 infants born to Gulf War veterans and 41,463 babies of other military personnel and finding no evidence of an increase in the risk of birth effects for children of Gulf War veterans (pg.157). This has been such an over exaggerated problem and because of this thousands of Gulf War veterans have undergone countless medical exams, rather than going to get the much needed counseling. The real illness is the fear, anxiety and hopelessness of the veterans; these may explain their "health" problems.

Youth at risk is an ultimate fear, for our parents, teachers, political parties, churches and so forth. From teen gambling to kids gone missing to school shootings, the media has done it again by reinforcing fears into our minds that there is an epidemic of youth violence. I believe this is because we as people never know exactly what children are going to do.

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The media only helps this; they want us to expect the unexpected when it comes to children. The media thrives on youth violence stories and like the Columbine shooting, they keep showing us images to never let us forget what's out there. Glassner states the 48% of all reports on children from CBS, ABC and NBC concerned with violence and crime and only 4% concerned or children's health, well being and economic issues (pg.72). Children should be worrying about their grade on a test more so than if a fellow student will walk through the door shooting.

Americans are afraid because of the media's broadband expose of crime, violence, drugs and diseases. Glassner shows that our overblown fears are due to many different factors, such as the media. Even though we should worry some, about gun control or poverty, we need not to look over our shoulder all the time.

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