Over the past few weeks I have been looking into violence in films and how censorship is involved. My overview of the topic has noticed a large amount of films with graphic and gratuitous violence that has become laissez faire in our society. In other words, people like their violence. So I looked into how this violence could be affecting us mentally. We are surrounded by more violence than ever before in our media sphere, but what are we doing to control this?
In terms of the ‘moral panic’, watching violence making us violent people, this has been proved untrue. Although there are some ‘copycat’ instances of individuals repeating what they have seen in the media (Thoman 2017). Yet Thoman 2017 does explain that there are some impacts on individuals watching and how to mitigate this. This source however is written from a media literacy perspective and is therefore protective of media whilst admitting there should be more done in terms of national debate over limiting media violence in children and our own lives.
There haven’t necessarily been many global media interventions surrounding violence in films. This is being done on a domestic scale and has many cultural, religious and political factors that determine what films are censored and which are left.
The censorship of film is about a complex network of social values that categorise one thing as Art and another as obscenity – Rayner & Wall 2008
Rayner & Wall 2008 are media studies specialists and conclude that they cannot answer whether censorship of violence in films should be considered in more depth. This is due to “complex network of values that shape an audience’s response to a film” that vary over time and culture, and “contemporary audiences are sophisticated and engage in ironic readings of the films” (Rayner & Wall 2008). As I said previously ‘people like their violence’, I stand corrected, that is people read films differently and in their own time and cultural perspective. Therefore, deciding how much violence should be allowed in films will differ from person to person, and country to country.
However, reading sources from a psychology perspective with studies supporting their viewpoints, shows a different angle. They believe violence in media and film affect individuals. The discussion of Huesmann & Eron’s 1980’s study found that children who watched more violent TV programs showed higher levels of aggressive behaviour as adolescents and as adults were more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for criminal acts (American Psychological Association 2017).
Both disciplines have very different perspectives on how violence in media and film affects society and therefore deciding on how this should be dealt with will differ depending on the country, the film and its context. This is why there has not been any global media interventions on censorship of violence in film that have made an impact, because it is too difficult to determine what is best for all of society.
American Psychological Association 2017, Violence in the Media, Psychology: Science in Action, viewed 20 August 2017. <http://www.apa.org/action/resources/research-in-action/protect.aspx>
Rayner, P & Wall, P 2017, ‘Film and Censorship: Five Case Studies – Freaks, A Clockwork Orange, Platoon, Crash and Borat, by Stephen Hill’, in AS Media Studies, Routledge, Oxford. <http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/9780415448239/film-censor.asp>
Thoman, E 2017, What Parents Can Do about Media Violence, Center For Media Literacy, viewed 20 August 2017. <http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/what-parents-can-do-about-media-violence>