Mayhem: Violence As Public Entertainment

Overview

What is the effect of long-term media violence on our national character? Do we want four-year-olds watching slasher films? Who should decide? While almost everyone has a strong opinion about the profusion of violence-in film, TV, video games, and on line-paralysis sets in when it comes to action. The issue is seen as a hopeless standoff between free speech and preserving public morality. In Mayhem, Sissela Bok reframes the issue. She shows us that we have created a false dilemma and that we need not feel so ...
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Overview

What is the effect of long-term media violence on our national character? Do we want four-year-olds watching slasher films? Who should decide? While almost everyone has a strong opinion about the profusion of violence-in film, TV, video games, and on line-paralysis sets in when it comes to action. The issue is seen as a hopeless standoff between free speech and preserving public morality. In Mayhem, Sissela Bok reframes the issue. She shows us that we have created a false dilemma and that we need not feel so helpless. Mayhem lays out the arguments and weighs the evidence on each side: the desensitization, fear, and addiction that concern psychologists, pediatricians, and religious groups on the one hand, and, on the other, the threat of censorship invoked by journalists, civil libertarians, and the entertainment industry. The book gives a vivid historical overview of the debate: from Rome, to nineteenth-century attempts to ban all theater, to censorship of the Internet in Singapore and China, and contrasting views of figures as diverse as Martin Scorsese, Bill Moyers, and Judge Bork. As in Lying and Secrets, she puts this thorny question in clarifying perspective, and shows how our ways of dealing with it not only express, but can shape our character and lives. Finally, she takes up specific and imaginative ways to resolve the dilemma, from private measures for individuals and families to large-scale collective efforts.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Two leading intellectuals look at the impact of commercially motivated cultural production on today's media-saturated culture. In her methodical and readable book, Bok (formerly philosophy, Brandeis; now distinguished fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies) examines the shallow debates surrounding violent entertainments, especially on television. She fleshes out both sides of the issue, offering a rigorous discussion of the ill effects of violent shows and of censorship, and then advances nongovernmental solutions to curbing exposure to violent media. While packed with citations and rich in anecdote, this book is slim and serves to refocus the debate rather than advance any new position or findings. Still, as discussions of the V-chip and similar efforts continue, this may be the best primer for a serious debate. In his more interesting but also more demanding work, Bourdieu (sociology, College de France, Paris) critiques the effects of the medium of television on the practice of journalism and, by extension, on other professions, on government, and on all of society. The bulk of the book is made up of two lectures that Bourdieu delivered over his university's television station, which drew heated criticism from prominent journalists and brought this book to France's best sellers lists last year. Because of the origins of the work there are few citations, but Bourdieu didn't dumb down his language, and the sometimes polemical text demands concentration. Though he mostly refers to French examples, the morass of vapid pontificators on "news" talk shows and the pervasive self-censorship of the marketplace are all too familiar to American audiences. Thisinsightful and disturbing work belongs in all academic libraries as well as subject collections in larger public institutions; Bok's work is recommended for most public libraries.

--Eric Bryant, Library Journal

Library Journal
Two leading intellectuals look at the impact of commercially motivated cultural production on today's media-saturated culture. In her methodical and readable book, Bok (formerly philosophy, Brandeis; now distinguished fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies) examines the shallow debates surrounding violent entertainments, especially on television. She fleshes out both sides of the issue, offering a rigorous discussion of the ill effects of violent shows and of censorship, and then advances nongovernmental solutions to curbing exposure to violent media. While packed with citations and rich in anecdote, this book is slim and serves to refocus the debate rather than advance any new position or findings. Still, as discussions of the V-chip and similar efforts continue, this may be the best primer for a serious debate. In his more interesting but also more demanding work, Bourdieu (sociology, College de France, Paris) critiques the effects of the medium of television on the practice of journalism and, by extension, on other professions, on government, and on all of society. The bulk of the book is made up of two lectures that Bourdieu delivered over his university's television station, which drew heated criticism from prominent journalists and brought this book to France's best sellers lists last year. Because of the origins of the work there are few citations, but Bourdieu didn't dumb down his language, and the sometimes polemical text demands concentration. Though he mostly refers to French examples, the morass of vapid pontificators on "news" talk shows and the pervasive self-censorship of the marketplace are all too familiar to American audiences. This insightful and disturbing work belongs in all academic libraries as well as subject collections in larger public institutions; Bok's work is recommended for most public libraries.

--Eric Bryant, Library Journal

Michael Sherry
Many readers of this valuable book will recall upsetting encounters, by themselves or by children, with violence in the popular media. Bok intends to frighten readers about that violence, and she largely succeeds....she offers in Mayhem brief, nimble, wide-ranging and evenhanded essays on a subject that often provokes hysterical warnings or cavalier dismissals.

-- Michael Sherry, The New York Times Book Review

Kirkus Reviews
Like her eloquent moral explorations Lying (1978) and Secrets (1983), Bok's latest ethical treatise addresses the dangers of media violence and the temptations of censorship.

Although debates over media violence are almost as pervasive as violence in the media itself, Bok's objective and erudite argument does not fall into superficial extremes, either banning everything down to The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers or championing Natural Born Killers as free speech. Bok (Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies) first examines the historical functions of violent spectacles, epitomized by the Roman circuses, which were first put on by noble families in honor of their dead. The classical models of Aristotle's idea of catharsis, Plato's banishment of poetry from his Republic, and St. Augustine's description of the "stabbing of the soul" by viewing bloodshed likewise inform Mayhem's modern analysis. Media violence, in entertainment or news, Bok shows in study after study, is no less a factor in America's top ranking in homicides than tobacco smoke is in lung cancer. The American Psychiatric Association's conclusion in 1993 that media violence can promote not only fear and desensitization, but also aggression and appetite does not, however, lead Bok to side with John Grisham's proposition of a product liability lawsuit over Natural Born Killers or Robert Bork's uncompromising advocacy of institutionalized censorship. Disregarding Singapore's stringent but hopeless censoring of the Internet (paralleled with 18th-century Geneva's ban on theater), Bok looks toward Canada's national initiative at minimizing media violence, in which the V-chip was used in additionto media literacy education, ratings systems, and quality programming for children. Perhaps the only thing missing from Bok's wide-ranging and objective book is a specific analysis of violence's distinct roles in our entertainment culture, instead of statistically associating Martin Scorsese with Mortal Kombat.

A deep disquisition on a distressingly fraught issue.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738201450
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Pages: 208
  • Lexile: 1620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author


Sissela Bok, Ph.D., who has taught philosophy at Brandeis University and ethics and decision making at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, is the author of Lying, Secrets, and A Strategy for Peace
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. 1 The paradox of entertainment violence 13
Feasts of Violence 15
Recoil and Recognition 22
The Thrill of the Kill 27
"But Movies Are Not Real" 35
Transforming Violence 40
Pt. 2 The impact of media violence 47
Double Takes 49
Sizing Up the Effects 56
Fear 61
Desensitization 67
Appetite for More Violence 77
Aggression 82
Pt. 3 Censorship 91
A Perceived Dilemma 93
The Will to Ban andCensor 97
Geneva and the Banning of Spectacles 102
Singapore, Asian Values, and the Internet 108
Journalists and Media Violence 113
Adult Rights, Children's Needs, and the Law 118
Pt. 4 Opportunities 127
Openings for Change 129
Caveat Emptor 132
Media Literacy 140
Collective Action 145
National Initiatives 152
Notes 159
Acknowledgments 183
Index 185
About the Author 195
\|
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First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE
PART ONE
the paradox of
entertainment violence

The people that once bestowed commands,
consulships, legions, and all else, now concerns
itself no more, and longs eagerly for just two
things--bread and circuses!

JUVENAL, SATIRES

Maybe we need the catharsis of blood-letting
and decapitation, like the Ancient Romans
needed it, as ritual, but not real like the Roman
Circus. MARTIN SCORSESE

FEASTS OF VIOLENCE

No people before or since have so reveled in displays of mortal combat as did the Romans during the last two centuries B.C. and the first three centuries thereafter, nor derived such pleasure from spectacles in which slaves and convicts were exposed to wild beasts and killed in front of cheering spectators. According to Nicolaus of Damascus, writing in the first decade A.D., Romans even regaled themselves with lethal violence at private banquets; he describes dinner guests relishing the spectacle of gladiators fighting to the death:

Hosts would invite their friends to dinner not merely for other entertainment, but that they might witness two or three pairs of contestants in a gladiatorial combat; on these occasions, when sated with dining and drink, they called in the gladiators. No sooner did one have his throat cut than the masters applauded with delight at this feat.

Perhaps the delectation and thrill of viewing a fight to the death at such close hand while reclining after a meal with friends provided even greater pleasure than the vast gladiatorial shows in the amphitheater, in which thousands of combatants confronted death each year. Devotees versed in the aesthetics of violence and the "science of pleasure" could study at close hand the subtleties of the moves in each encounter and celebrate the nobility and beauty with which defeated gladiators who had been denied a reprieve bared their necks for decapitation.

The satiric poet Juvenal's phrase "bread and circuses"--panem et circenses--that has come down, through the centuries, to stand for public offerings of nourishment and spectacles on a grand scale, would have meant nothing to the earliest Romans. There is no evidence from their period of vast wild beast hunts in circuses or spectacular forms of capital punishment or gladiatorial combats to the death in the arena. The first gladiatorial fight we know of took place in 264 B.C., when the ex-consul Iunius Brutus Pera and his brother, in a ceremony to honor their dead father, presented three pairs of gladiators in the ox market. More such encounters were offered in the ensuing decades by private citizens as a way to honor dead relatives. But gladiatorial combat was increasingly seen, too, as entertainment and as evidence of generosity, even lavishness on the part of public officials.

Barely two centuries after the first gladiatorial fights, they had become the centerpiece of the Roman "games," alongside wild animal hunts with live game brought from every corner of the known world to be slaughtered, and countless slaves, prisoners, and other victims "thrown to the beasts." Those who died thus were seen either as expendable nonhumans, such as slaves or wild beasts, as criminals or prisoners of war who justly deserved their fate, or as volunteers who had chosen to take part freely or sold themselves into service as gladiators.

Violent spectacles kept the citizenry distracted, engaged, and entertained and, along with reenactments and celebrations of conquests and sacrifices abroad, provided the continued acculturation to violence needed by a warrior state. And the association with bread was constant. Not only were shows in the amphitheater or the circus meant for feasting the eye as well as the emotions: many sponsors also gave out bread, meat, drink, and favorite dishes to the crowds gathered for the games. Elements of entertainment and feasting were combined with ritual and sacrifice. Ancient Rome seems a particularly striking illustration of the claim by literary scholar Rene Girard that all communal violence can be described in terms of sacrifice, using surrogate victims as means to protect the entire community against its own internal violence. No program could begin without a sacrifice to a deity, often Diana, who presided over the raucous hunting scenes, or Mars, patron of the gladiatorial combats; and after the bloodshed was over, "a figure, representing the powers of the under-world, gave the finishing stroke to the wretches who were still lingering."

Throughout, such violence was regarded as legitimate, fully authorized, even commanded at the highest level of Roman society. The festive atmosphere, the rousing music of the bands, the chanting by the crowds, the betting on who would triumph or lose, the colorful costumes, and the adulation of star gladiators all contributed to the glamour attached to the games. But as historian Kathleen Coleman points out, while "the `contagion of the throng' may aptly describe the thrill that the Roman spectators experienced in the Colosseum, [it] does not explain why their communal reaction was pleasure instead of revulsion or horror." Part of the reason, she suggests, is that the Roman world "was permeated by violence that had to be absorbed."

Just as Roman spectacles remain the prototype for violent entertainment at its most extreme, so Rome's own history illustrates the development of a prototypical "culture of violence." It was one in which violence was widely sanctioned and hallowed by tradition, in foreign conquest as in domestic culture; in which courage and manhood were exalted and weapons easily available; and in which the climate of brutality and callousness extended from the treatment of newborns and slaves in many homes to the crucifixions and other brutal punishments so common for noncitizens. Entertainment violence officially sponsored on a mass basis served to enhance every one of these aspects of Rome's martial culture.

Among Romans, spectacles of violence had many celebrants and few outspoken challengers. The poet Martial, in his De Spectaculis, written in A.D. 80 for the inauguration of the Colosseum, conveyed the magnificence of the fights and wild beast hunts in evocative tones. Speaking of a condemned criminal who, "hanging on no unreal cross gave up his vitals to a Caledonian bear," Martial described his mangled limbs as still living, "though the parts dripped gore, and in all his body was nowhere a body's shape. A punishment deserved at length he won." This death was staged as a performance of the story of Laureolus, a famous bandit leader who had been captured and crucified. This was a favorite subject for dramatic enactment, but as Martial pointed out, the victim in this instance was "hanging on no unreal cross," and his agony was compounded by exposure to the bear.

Why did such spectacles have so few outspoken critics among Romans? We can only wonder at the silence of those, like Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, who proclaimed Stoic and other ideals of goodness and justice; not to mention the many other philosophers, poets, and legal scholars who were openly admiring of the practice. Like most Romans, they may have been too thoroughly acculturated to violence to see any need for criticism. The historian Tacitus recounts that "there are the peculiar and characteristic vices of this metropolis of ours, taken on, it seems to me, almost in the mother's womb--the passion for play actors and the mania for gladiatorial shows and horse-racing." At home as in the lecture halls, the gossip is all about such spectacles; even the teachers dwell largely on such material in their classes.

Along with such acculturation, fear was the great silencer of outrage and free debate among the Romans and the peoples they conquered. It was dangerous to speak freely, above all to criticize acts of the emperor and practices linked to his worship. At his whim, critics could be jailed, exiled, or thrown to the lions. But more than acculturation and fear was involved. Opportunistic self-censorship was rampant. Many among the intelligentsia and in the aristocracy derived great prestige from sponsoring displays of gladiators. They had a vested interest in seeing the games continue and in deriding criticism.

One who did note a moral paradox in the gladiatorial games presenting violence as public entertainment was the philosopher Seneca. He pointed to Pompey, reputedly conspicuous among leaders of the state for the kindness of his heart, who had been the first

to exhibit the slaughter of eighteen elephants in the circus, pitting criminals against them in a mimic battle [and] thought it a notable kind of spectacle to kill human beings after a new fashion. Do they fight to the death? That is not enough! Are they torn to pieces? That is not enough! Let them be crushed by animals of monstrous bulk!

That human beings should kill and maim their fellows was hardly paradoxical in its own right; rather, the oddity was that the pleasure in seeing it carried out could be so relished as to override all sense of respect for life: "Man, an object of reverence in the eyes of men, is now slaughtered for jest and sport ... and it is a satisfying spectacle to see a man made a corpse." For Seneca, sharing the enjoyment of that spectacle brutalized and desensitized viewers and fostered their appetite for still more cruelty. It undercut the central task of seeking to grow in humanity, in nobility of spirit, in understanding, and in freedom from greed, cruelty, and other desires; and thereby to progress toward self-mastery. Seneca saw any diversion as deflecting from this task; but taking pleasure in brutality--in "seeing a man made a corpse"--actually reversed the development, destroyed humanitas: the respectful kindness that characterizes persons who have learned how to be fully human among humans. Violent entertainments rendered spectators crudelior et inhumanior--"more cruel and more inhumane"--acculturating them to pitilessness and to lack of respect for their fellow humans and other creatures.

The same forces that numbed most Romans' shame or sense of moral paradox inherent in relishing such cruelty--acculturation, fear, and profiteering--also helped to dampen criticism in the provinces. Many Roman military encampments had their own amphitheaters, and hundreds of others were built for the public around the Empire in the first centuries A.D. But though Roman authorities and commercial sponsors encouraged attendance at the games in conquered territories as a form of homage to the emperor-deities, such spectacles could not compete in extravagance with those offered by the emperors in Rome and rarely met with the special exultation elsewhere that they evoked there. A few spoke out against them openly: when King Herod wished to offer spectacles in an amphitheater he had constructed near Jerusalem, "the Jews found such a cruel pleasure to be impious and an abandonment of their ancestral customs."

Among the severest critics were Christians, from whose ranks so many were tortured and killed at the games. Late in the second century, Bishop Tertullian thundered, in his De Spectaculis, against violent spectacles rooted in pagan religion, with their brutalizing effects on victims, sponsors, combatants, and spectators alike. He lambasted the Christians who took pleasure in such shows and cautioned against the degradation that came, not just from viewing cruelty but from delighting in it, finding it entertaining, developing a "passion for murderous pleasure." With puritanical zeal, he insisted that people should avoid not only violent shows but all spectacles:

There is no public spectacle without violence to the spirit. For where there is pleasure, there is eagerness, which gives pleasure its flavor. Where there is eagerness, there is rivalry, which gives its flavor to eagerness. Yes, and then, where there is rivalry, there also are madness, bile, anger, pain, and all the things that follow from them and (like them) are incompatible with moral discipline.

Tertullian ended on a shrill note that clashed with all that he had said about the evils of taking pleasure in violent spectacles. He appears to have promised his fellow Christians, in spite of all, the reward of "murderous pleasure" in the next life if they would only abjure it in this one. Reveling in the horrors that would befall those who now took any part in spectacles, he predicted that, come the Day of Judgment, Christians could look forward to the thrill, the exultation at being able to watch, as if they were at the games, the infliction on nonbelievers, such as actors, kings, athletes, poets, and philosophers, of suffering, torture, and burning, horrors far worse than at the earthly games and everlasting to boot:

How vast the spectacle that day, and how wide! What sight shall wake my wonder, what my laughter, my joy, and exultation? As I see all those kings ... groaning in the depths of darkness! And the magistrates who persecuted the name of Jesus, liquefying in fiercer flames than they kindled in their rage against the Christians! Those sages, too, the philosophers blushing before their disciples as they blaze together ... and then, the poets trembling before the judgment-seat .... And then there will be the tragic actors to be heard, more vocal in their own tragedy; and the players to be seen, lither of limb by far in the fire; ... Such sights, such exultation--what praetor, consul, quaestor, priest, will ever give you of his bounty? And yet all these, in some sort, are ours, pictured through faith in the imagination of the spirit. But what are those things which eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor ever entered into the heart of man? I believe, things of greater joy than circus, theatre, amphitheatre, or any stadium.
RECOIL AND
RECOGNITION

After the kill, there is the feast.
And toward the end, when the dancing
subsides,
and the young have sneaked off somewhere,
the bounds drunk on the blood of the hares,
begin to talk of how soft
were their pelts, how graceful their leaps,
how lovely their scared, gentle eyes.

LISEL MUELLER,
"SMALL POEM ABOUT THE HOUNDS
AND THE HARES"

Revulsion against the Roman gladiatorial games intensified during the third century. By the fourth, they had become for many what one historian calls "an unthinkable monstrosity." But even though they were outlawed again and again, they would flare up each time, until they were finally abolished for good in 438. Ever since, historians of the period have spoken of the chasm that separates us from the Romans in this regard. Keith Hopkins refers to the games, with their "welter of blood in gladiatorial and wild-beast shows, the squeals of the victims and of slaughtered animals," as "completely alien to us and almost unimaginable"; and Samuel Dill stresses our difficulty in conceiving of the fascination that the spectacles in the amphitheater and the theater had, "not only on characters hardened by voluptuousness, but on the cultivated and humane."

Just how unimaginable are the Roman practices to today's publics? Most people would recoil from the thought of banquets such as those described at the beginning of this chapter, offering guests the chance to feast not only on food and drink but also on gladiatorial combat. Even so, they might recognize the emotions underlying the guests' delight in viewing such fights at close hand and their aesthetic appreciation of the combatants' skill.

As we strive to understand in what sense the Roman practices might nevertheless be "completely alien" to us, we have to ask whether our contemporary versions of entertainment violence exhibit anything like the paradox inherent in the role of the gladiatorial games as public entertainment. This is not to say that our societies are at any risk of tolerating public spectacles such as Rome's. Our laws prohibit them, and our institutions allow the open debate and criticism that Romans could not have. Rather, what matters for us is to explore the uncomfortable present-day parallels to the thrill and joyful entertainment associated with watching bloodshed, the function of the games in acculturating the Romans to violence, and the exploiting of even the bloodthirstiest practices by Rome's commercial and political vested interests, not to mention the self-censorship practiced by many of its authors, artists, and critics.

Consider present-day bullfights, cockfights, or bouts of "ultimate" or "extreme" fighting, in which two combatants "do whatever they can--absent biting and eye-gouging--to send each other into unconsciousness or submission. They kick, they probe, they grapple, often on mats that quickly become slick with sweat and blood." Outlawed in some states, permitted in others, such games draw large crowds and hundreds of thousands of TV spectators. Would not at least some among them likewise thrill to watch human combatants fight to the death?

To Sigmund Freud, there would be nothing alien about contemporaries delighting in such spectacles. In discussing the aggressiveness that he took to be an instinctual characteristic of human beings, Freud quoted the words of the Roman playwright Plautus, "Homo homini lupus"--"Man is a wolf to man." Freud viewed aggressiveness among humans is one expression of Thanatos, the drive toward death and destruction that is opposed and harnessed to the drive toward life, creativity, and love, or Eros:

Their neighbour is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him.

Few still speak of such instincts today; and on the basis of the research done since Freud's time on the development both of aggression and of empathy, more are now prepared to view them as acquired through imitation and practice, even as they are based on inborn predispositions. Thus the biologist Edward O. Wilson suggests that aggressive behavior is learned, but that the learning is prepared in that "we are strongly predisposed to slide into deep, irrational hostility under certain definable conditions. With dangerous ease hostility feeds on itself and ignites runaway reactions that can swiftly progress to alienation and violence." For Wilson, as for Freud, Simone Weil, and others who have studied aggression, the arts are central to the prospects for civilization to counter and constrain and deflect the human potential for destruction. Music, literature, theater, and spectacles of every kind enhance the chances for human thriving, even as they have also been enlisted, most strikingly in Rome as in our own century's totalitarian states, for purposes of aggression.

Both sorts of potential have been vastly enhanced by modern technology. Our worldwide distribution systems, piping programs into hundreds of millions of homes at all hours, go beyond anything the Romans, adept as they were at engineering feats, could have imagined. By now, the American entertainment industry produces and trades in violent programming on an ever vaster scale; and it aims its products with increasing precision at children and adolescents. Not that children were excluded from crowds watching boxing matches or bullfights or even the bloodiest slaughter in the Roman arenas. But never before have children been targeted as a lucrative market for entertainment violence and for toys, games, and paraphernalia associated with particular programs; nor have marketing experts studied with such care the factors heightening the "audience arousal" that draws television viewers in and facilitates their acceptance of advertising messages. In previous generations, children had little money to spend; they now influence the flow of vast sums: in 1997, it was estimated that American children 14 and under would directly spend $20 billion and would influence the spending of another $200 billion.

As the profitability and the amount of violent entertainment grow, as technology is improved for presenting it more graphically and realistically, and as children are increasingly seen as targeted and at risk, public concerns deepen. However forceful the disagreements about the extent to which the allure of violence is inherent in the human species or, on the contrary, culturally fostered, it is clear that children are made, not born, to be consumers of entertainment violence on today's scale.

Polls show that Americans are deeply ambivalent about how to respond. Even many adults who acknowledge the thrill they derive from films such as Natural Born Killers and Silence of the Lambs worry about the hypnotic power the screen exercises over children and young people. Among adult respondents to one 1995 poll, 21 percent blamed television more than any other factor for teenage sex and violence. But public concern goes beyond the question of whether consumers of entertainment violence turn out, in the long run, to be more aggressive in real life, to focus on the desensitization and the arousal of greater and greater appetite for the thrill that entertainment violence can bring. Yet even as parents worry about the messages on television about drugs, sex, and brutality, they rely on it for keeping children busy, and most set no limits whatsoever on the amount of television their children see. Indeed, Americans of all ages go to great lengths and expense to seek out the very forms of entertainment that so many condemn in polls. They flock to blockbuster movies that "push the envelope" with respect to graphic brutality and take in countless TV shows featuring domestic violence, rape, child abuse, gang violence, and serial killers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2000

    Data Rich - Idea Poor

    The book is well written and easy to read if a historical look at violence in media is the only thing you are seeking. However if you seek some new insight on the true effects of media violance on children readers may be somewhat disappointed when it's all said and done. As I read I found that the book merely mirrored what countless other articles have already stated. In the end, it's still an individual's own perception (child or adult) that will determine whether or not media violence they witness will be accepted as truth or rejected as fantasy. Every life is different, every circumstance unique...there is but one cut and dry formula for guaranteeing that media violence will not have any impact on a person, that being to turn the television off, unplug it and hide it in the dark corner of a closet.

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