The Blame Game.
Violence sells, and we let it.
David Gauntlett’s article, ‘Ten thing wrong with the “effects model”’ (1998) outlines ten fundamental flaws in ‘effects models’ studies. He argues that these models specifically support conservative ideologies, treat children as inadequate, assume superiority of the educated and elite and make no attempt to understand the many potential readings and meanings of the media. He ultimately declares that research regarding effects and behaviour are not reliable sources of information in comparison to research and studies focusing on influences and perceptions; therefore stating that the effects model is not a source to rely on when regarding the role of the media in society.
While watching case studies in debate with this argument, I began to ask myself, if so many people are conflict in the media, then why do they show so much of it? The media is run by a collaboration of intellectuals whom rely on ratings from their audience, surely they would have reduced the violence in their content if people were so against it? So I ask you, are we the true culprit?
In today’s mass media world, research tells us that violence sells. It is a ‘genre’ of media that costs less to export and translate, and has little difficulty being picked up by markets in other cultures due to our universal understanding of it (Media Smarts n.d.). If we look at violence as a ‘language’, we can see that it’s easy to comprehend and requires minimal context in order to present a plot; explosions, gunfire, and hand-to-hand combat are a language that anyone can understand. Take for instance movies – action movies don’t require complex plots or characters. They rely on battles, killings, special effects and explosions to retain their audiences’ attention. I, myself, can admit that if someone gave me an ultimatum between watching ‘Transformers’ or ‘The Lucky One’, there is no way I’d be sitting there watching the a Zac Efron movie.
I do not know enough about the relationship between society and their interest in violence to draw many reliable conclusions, however I do wonder if we may be reacting a tad dramatically. Not all conflict in media is as bad as we say it is. In movies such as previously mentioned, ‘Transformers’, there has been a major shift portraying violence as the hero’s prerogative and means to win the battle. In the end, do we not take away the act behind the violence a lot more literally than the actual act? I know I always have. I’ll be the first to admit that using violence is no means to settle any dispute nor should we promote it, but is it really the violence we are encouraging? Or are we endorsing the morals, ethics and tales that arise because of the conflict, the lessons that people learn? I believe the latter.
Steve Bonini n.d. people watching screen, image, The Guardian, viewed 16 March 2013, <http://careers.guardian.co.uk/young-people-career-aspirations-unrealistic>.
Gauntlett, D 1998, ’Ten things wrong with the media “effects model”’, Approaches to Audiences – A Reader, viewed 16 March 2013, < http://www.theory.org.uk/david/effects.htm>
Media Smarts, n.d. Why is Violent Media so Pervasive, Media Smarts, viewed 15 March 2013, < http://mediasmarts.ca/violence/what-do-we-know-about-media-violence>.