Violence in Film – Case Study 2

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. <;


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. <;


Thoman, E 2017, What Parents Can Do about Media Violence, Center For Media Literacy, viewed 20 August 2017. <;


Do we need censorship of violence in our films?

We are surrounded by violence in our films and television viewing, some are thrilled by the sight, others worry about the negative implications of witnessing violence in such an everyday way. According to Timmer (2011) research by many groups such as the American Psychological Association, American Medical Association, National Academy of Science: “have concluded that the mass media bear some responsibility for contributing to real world violence”. The article went on the to discuss three possible negative outcomes of viewing violent films. These were: (1) “viewers can learn and imitate aggressive attitudes and behaviours”, (2) “continued exposure to media violence can undermine feelings of concern, empathy, or sympathy towards victims of actual violence”, and (3) “viewing media violence can lead to fear reactions such as a general fear of crime or victimisation, or lead to the belief that the world is generally a scary and dangerous place” (Timmer 2011, pp. 30-31).

By the average time a child reaches the age of eighteen, they will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence and 16.000 murders (Nayar-Akhtar 2016, pp 510) due to watching media violence. This must have a desensitising effect on violence for children and adults alike.

Reading through a reflective piece by Lauren Rosewarne (2014) about how desensitised she is to media violence due to her upbringing with violent media content, raises alarm bells for society that we find entertainment out of such violent behaviour; to the point where the only thing that is left shocking is dead babies, the title of the article.

Countries like China heavily censor films with lots of violence and in often cases will ban them. Hollywood films such as Django Unchained, Deadpool and Suicide Squad have all been banned in China due to their violent content. According to an article by Clarence Tsui (2017) there is a paradox to censorship of films in China. Although films may be heavily edited to be fit for release in China, after they are released there is no rating system, so children can watch adult content freely. Tsui (2017) discusses the irony behind the release of the film Logan, that had 17 minutes cut and edited, yet it is still a very violent film and children are free to watch.

In England, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) was using focus groups to watch some of the more extreme films to determine whether the content is harmful or not (Brown, 2012). This came after the release of The Human Centipede 2, and the Bunny Game that push the boundaries of what is acceptable for film. The BBFC assesses what the public deems tolerable for film every four to five years.

There are many different guidelines for which films should abide to determine what is appropriate content, yet none of these are universal, and they are not always adhered to. Classification boards have a role to play in who can view a film, yet the content is becoming increasingly violent; in other words, it is time to create an overall body who can dictate what is acceptable for films and hold film makers accountable.




Brown, M 2012, ‘UK censors ask focus groups to watch sexually violent films,’ The Guardian, 12 July. <;


Nayar-Akhtar, M,C 2016, ‘Do We Glorify Violence in Our Culture? Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Media and Violence’, Psychoanalytic Inquiry, vol. 23, no. 6, pp.510-522.


Rosewarne, L 2014, ‘Looking at Dead Babies’, The Conversation, 22 January.



Timmer, J 2011, ‘Restricting Portrayals of Film Violence to Reduce the Liklihood of Negative Effects in Viewers’, Journal of Popular Film & Television, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 29-36.


Tsui, C 2017, ‘China’s film censorship paradox: restricted content, unrestricted access’, Post Magazine, 08 March. <;

60 years on and Godzilla is still strong

I’m a 90s baby, I grew up watching Hi-5, The Wiggles (originals) and then grew into more sophisticated films like Mean Girls that truly understood the struggles of growing up in a white privileged society. I’ve grown up in a mostly peaceful time, and the only worries I’ve faced have been “end of the world” scares that never eventuated. As a result, the films I watched growing up were mostly light-hearted fun, adventure filled stories that never showed hard-ships.

Godzilla (1954), image,

I would have never watched Godzilla growing up, and even if I did I would have missed the underlying metaphor behind the film. This is because I’ve never lived in a time where the horror of nuclear war or death of loved ones has ever been a treat to my perfect bubble wrapped life.


As I watched Godzilla, I found it difficult to relate to the characters because I had never experienced anything that made me think about how my life could be affected by this. Also, my experience of films up to this point were American made or American sympathised, therefore the common enemy of those films were Russia, Japan, or Germany that had made up the Axis Powers in World War II. These stereotypes had carried across to my understanding of the world around me, and it was only until I was old enough to experience the world for myself that I found this to be this incorrect.


Therefore, expanding my understanding of International Film is a valuable source to understand how other countries document and make sense of hard-ships they have faced. The Japanese film industry using a nuclear, fire-breathing monster as a metaphor of the destruction the US inflicted upon Japan during the war makes this film more relatable for many different audiences, rather than if it was a more direct portrayal of the event. It ended up becoming a hugely successful formula and as a result, ironically America has released their own Godzilla films.


If you’re interested in a little background reading:

Here’s an article of photos of Hiroshima and Nagasaki then and now from the Guardian 

And a review of Godzilla



“Anthropomorphism – the showing or treating of animals, gods, and objects as if they are human in appearance, character, or behaviour” – Cambridge Dictionary 2017

When looking into the world of Wildlife Documentaries, we are often sold on the humanistic stories of the animals we are watching. Often Wildlife documentaries are criticised about the use of anthropomorphism techniques and the ethical issues this rises.

One ethical issue raised by Pollo, Graziano & Giacoma (2009)  is the use of  “film-makers ‘tricks’ to facilitate their approach to animals or to make them display the desired behaviours”. The ‘tricks’ involve using food to bait animals, and other methods that may cause harm to the animals. This is done to create interest for the audience and is often heavily edited after. The article concludes that humans have morally sound interests in recording and viewing animal behaviour, but animals have interests in not being harmed in the making of reportage and documentaries. The article also points out that there should be taxation on the making of documentaries that contributes to conservation projects. If we are going to continue to disrupt animals by filming them in their natural habitat, we should aim to give back to them in order to aid their longevity.

Another article written by Adcroft (2010) argues why anthropomorphism is useful in documentaries and how this can benefit the animals. Adcroft (2010) explains that “humans have an inherent tendency to understand the world in light of our own experiences” and therefore we use “anthropomorphism to bring non-human objects and experiences into our realm of understanding”. This is why anthropomorphism has to be used in documentaries otherwise humans would have no interest in watching documentaries of animals behaving naturally. Adcroft also explains how anthropomorphism can help animals by:

  • being used as a powerful and useful tool in influencing an audience’s response, and:
  • Anthropomorphism has the potential to enhance environmental awareness.

Hence why humans need anthropomorphism to generate empathy for the animals and their environment. Without anthropomorphism, humans would have no interest in the impact that our actions have on the animals and the environment. Adcroft points out the paradox of anthropomorphism, “while it can distance us from the realities of wildlife, it appears it can allow nature to become an integral part of our worldview” hence it may have influenced the growth and support of wildlife conservation.

While both articles argued the negatives and positives of anthropomorphism in documentaries, its apparent that it is needed to generate understanding between the human world and animals. Although it can be a detriment to the animals current health, in the long run it seems to positively impact the livelihood of animals through conservation and humans general knowledge of helping animals.

Here are a few of my favourite uses of anthropomorphism in popular culture using documentaries.


These videos show how anthropomorphism can be used for humour. Humans can relate to the animals in these videos even though it is not a true representation of why the animals behave in such a manner.

Humans rely on documentaries to properly represent the true nature of a situation or behaviour of animals, as this is how we learn about wildlife. As Wexler (2008) explains that “viewers regard films sequences as realistic because of cultural tendencies resulting from 19th century understandings of photography and film as mechanically accurate reproductions of visual world”. How is the general public to know if what is being produced the truth? Therefore film crew and producers of documentaries should have a responsibility to create accurate accounts.



Adcroft, J 2010, ‘Reframing perceptions of anthropomorphism in wildlife film and documentary’, University of Otago, <;

Pollo, S, Graziano, M, Giacoma, C 2009, ‘The ethics of natural history documentaries’, Animal Behaviour, vol 77:5, p 1357-1360 <;

Wexler, R, 2008, ‘Onward, Christian penguins: wildlife film and the image of scientific authority’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, vol 39 p273-279. <;

Pensioner Poverty

Poverty in Australia? That can’t be so! We live in such a rich country full of resources and opportunities for all the population! 

My Grandparents could be experiencing poverty? Impossible! 36% of pensioners live below the poverty line? Again impossible! 

This is the ugly truth that so many elderly Australians face today. Having grown up with a guaranteed pension promised to them at the end of a long career, they have recently seen more cuts to their already small allowance.

This short video put together by Studio Ten for the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal gives some insight into how difficult it is to live on a pension in Australia.

When discussing poverty porn, I thought back to when my grandmother was alive surviving off the pension. Why do we neglect to cover and talk about the poverty that our elderly are living in? Why was there little coverage or outrage over the decrease in 330,000 Australian’s pension and another 90,000 who lost theirs entirely? (Browne, 2016)

Peter Beresford (2016) explains how the UK Government could reform welfare without much dissention through the use of dominant right-wing publications such as The Sun and the Daily Mail as “Cheer Leaders for welfare reform”. Publishing degrading stories to shame the disabled and pensioners as “benefit frauds” and spreading unchallenged political opinions has led to increased mental health issues for the disabled who have lost part of their welfare.

Another reason that pensioners might not be fighting for their pensions may be explained through the findings of Rod Hick (2013) who wrote, “older people were more likely than younger respondents to report that they did not want the items they lacked, despite their lower incomes”.

Earlier in 2017, politician David Leyonhjelm said that “taking the pension shouldn’t be something you aspire to, it should be something you try to avoid because it signifies you’re in a low-income group – in other words, you’re poor, or close to poor”. But what about the current pensioners who were never told to plan for their retirement because they would receive the pension? Is it fair for your average Australian to live off $800 a fortnight while Ex-Prime Minister, Tony Abbott receives a pension of $307,542 per year plus extras (Martin, 2015)? Our politicians are too far removed from the harsh reality that a third of Australian pensioners face (OECD, 2015).

To make matters worse, a new genre of television has emerged titled “Poverty Porn”. Often programs produced from an entitled perspective that light-heartedly glimpses at the struggles of people living under the poverty line. One example is “Struggle Street” produced by the SBS that depicted the negative and minority population of Mt Druitt. SBS claimed that “Struggle Street seeks to raise awareness and deepen our understanding of those of us in the community facing social and economic hardship through an honest reflection of what it is like to be doing it tough in Australia today,” SBS Television and Online Content Director, Marshall Heald.

The video below explains how residents from Mount Druitt really felt about about their community was portrayed.

Poverty Porn has been degrading to those living in poverty and does not show a true representation of the community. It also does not aim to help those living in poverty, only to capitalise on others struggles.

So how does pensioner poverty affect you? Although retirement is in the distant future for most people in their 20s they have already had to start preparing for it. One of my superannuation accounts was opened when I started my first job at age 17. I had no idea what it was but thought it was some sort of forced saving. The OECD report 2015 explains how pension reforms are going to affect our future retirement with:

  • An increase in the minimum retirement age
  • A raise in taxes to raise revenue or contribution rates in defined-benefit systems
  • Current 20 yr old’s entering the labour markets can expect to retire at 67 (current retirement age is 65)

In order to stay out of pension poverty, I have better start saving for my retirement today.



Peter Beresford (2016) Presenting welfare reform: poverty porn,

Browne, R 2016, ‘One-third of Australian pensioners live in Poverty: OECD’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 08 January. <;

Hick, R 2013, ‘Poverty, Preference or Pensioners? Measuring Material Deprivation in the UK’, Fiscal Studies, vol 34 : issue 1, p 31-54. <,%20Preference%20or%20Pensioners?%20Measuring%20Material%20Deprivation%20in%20the%20UK*%20Poverty,%20Preference%20or%20Pensioners?%20Measuring%20Material%20Deprivation%20in%20the%20UK.&spage=31&pages=31-54&sid=EBSCO:Business%20Source%20Complete&au=Hick,%20Rod#?&gt;

Martin, P 2015, ‘Liberal leadership spill: Tony Abbott’s annual pension to top $300,000, plus extras’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 September. <; 2016, ‘SBS documentary Struggle Street struggling to find suburbs to film second series in’,, 18 May. <;

OECD (2015), Pensions at a Glance 2015: OECD and G20 indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris <;


Duck Face to Belfie

Over recent years the increase of the phenomenon of the ‘selfie’ has changed the way we document our lives. It began with the duck face and now has progressed to the Belfie, with many other ridiculous crazes along the way. 98% of 18-24 years olds have taken at least one selfie in their lives (Katz and Crocker, 2015) and 55% of millennials admitted that they has shared a selfie on a social networking site (Bennet, 2014). Although many of our population participate in selfie-taking the consensus is negative towards selfie-takers. Comments of narcissism and self-obsession is common when examining selfie-takers. Perhaps this isn’t the case, and selfie-takers have been misunderstood all along.

A study by the Brigham Young University (2017) found that grouping selfie-takers like this is incorrect and there are 3 different types of selfie takers.  There are:

The Communicators


These are the people that use selfies to communicate with their friends and family through their selfies. A great example of this is when social media users post selfies to support a cause or situation such as women posting no-makeup selfies for positive self-image.

This can be used as a powerful form of using a selfie in order to help make a difference or raise awareness about a topic.

The Autobiographers


These posters use their social media to ‘document key events and preserve significant memories’ (Science Teacher Journal 2017). I see that I fit into this description, my posts are sparse and only of pictures and memories that I want to document.

The Self-Publicists 

Find Image Here

Are the people who ‘love documenting their entire lives, and in documenting and sharing their lives, they’re hoping to present themselves and their stories in a positive light’ (Science Teacher Journal 2017). The people who most fit into this category are celebrities who are social media obsessed and use it constantly to keep in contact with their fans. Of course, there are also those who enjoy posting every day or a few times a day, I find this annoying, but it’s their social media and their choice.

This shows insight into the different uses of a selfie rather than the broad narcissistic view of selfie-takers.

“Selfie-takers are motivated to share selfies in order to create a positive self-image by expressing happiness or positive physical appearance” (Pounders et al. 2016)

Rather than thinking selfie-takers are posting these pictures for their self-promotion, possibly they are posting them because they want to show how they felt in a moment or how they felt positively on an occasion. The Kramer et al. 2017 article found  that people in selfies were more generally more extroverted than those in pictures taken by others, but that people in photos taken by others were rated to be more open than selfie-takers. This was because of the spontaneity of photos taken by others rather than the controlled environment of a selfie. This lead to people who post pictures taken by others to be more open about their image over selfie-takers who can pick what picture makes it to being posted.

Another finding by Kramer et al. 2017 highlighted that selfie-takers reported no difference in self-reported narcissist values to people who post pictures taken by others. Again making us question the way we view selfie-takers and need to look into why they post the pictures if it isn’t for their self-promotion. The article attempts to answer this by explaining that “the attention-grabbing nature of selfies can be speculated that the usage of feedback features in selfies is not necessarily related to the individual perception and may therefore serve as a social strategy as opposed to a strategy for expressing honest evaluations”.

We need to embrace selfies in all their forms, because they are going to be the new way we document our lives. As Matt Lewis (2016) said, “our society’s visual history is going to be largely comprised of selfies”. Seeing as our history is going to be filled with selfies, lets embrace. Go and capture a bit of your history today and post a selfie.




Bennet, S (2014) The year of the Selfie – Statistics, Facts & Figures, Adweek, statistics2014/497309

Brigham Young University. (2017, January 10). What kind of selfie taker are you? Most selfie takers aren’t narcissists, study says. ScienceDaily. <;

Katz J. E., Crocker E. T. (2015). Selfie and photo messaging as visual conversation: reports from the United States, United Kingdom and China. Int. J. Commun. 9, 1861–1872.

Kramer, N.C, Feurstein, M, Kluck, J.P, Meier, Y, Rother, M, Winter, S (2017) Beware of Selfies: The Impact of Photo Type on Impression Formation Based on Social Networking Profiles, Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 188

Pounders K., Kowalczyk C. M., Stowers K. (2016). Insight into the motivation of selfie postings: impression management and self-esteem. Eur. J. Market. 50, 1879–1892. 10.1108/EJM-07-2015-0502

Steven Holiday, Matthew J. Lewis, Rachel Nielsen, Harper D Anderson, Maureen Elinzano.The Selfie Study: Archetypes and Motivations in Modern Self-Photography. Visual Communication Quarterly, 2016; 23 (3): 175 DOI: 1080/15551393.2016.1223548

Proposal for Ethnographic Research Project

Digital Story telling has become a powerful tool in today’s society, it can move an audience with more feeling than has been possible before in traditional media. Now any person can use digital story telling to tell a story of importance to them and society.

I was still unsure as to what digital story telling involved so I watched a TedX video to gain a better understanding of what digital story telling is and how it impacts people.

In the video Emily Bailin explains how we generally think of where we come from as a place geographically rather than in depth of what ‘where we come from’ really means to us. Emily has an after school digital storytelling programs for kids from 10th grade up, and she uses the idea of ‘where we come from’ as the first project in order to know the kids she works with and also get them to think of where they come from as more than a geographical location. Through doing this individually they gain a more in depth idea of who they are and what things are really important to them. This then gains a strong bond between the students as they learn information about people that has never been expressed before.

The video showed me how digital story telling can be used for people of all ages and how each of us have a story to tell, we only need the opportunity to express it. It got me thinking about what I could possibly do for my digital story telling project. Instead of where do I come from I could ask where am I now. We place so much emphasis on the past that we often forget to look at our present to determine whether we are where we really want to me. I feel like for University students this could be highly beneficial as many find it a turbulent time and don’t stop think think about whether where they are is really what they want.

Social media will be used as the platform and I hope to reach out to possible candidates through Twitter and Facebook.

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TedXTalks 2014, The power of digital story telling / Emily Bailin / TedX Solebury School, online video, 16 June, Ted X, <;



Diasporic & Intercultural Film

Diasporic film as explained by Sukhmani Khorana (2016) in her lecture, has having the ability to “help socialise migrant communities into their new environments and familiarising them, in a less intimidating way, with the host country.” This gives the migrants a familiar and smooth transition into their new lives.


Pandey & Ardichvili (2015) discuss how films could be used “for teaching cross-cultural and intercultural concepts in higher education and in corporate settings.” This highlights how diasporic film can be used for more than just aiding migrants transitions. The study hopes to spark students interest in cross-cultural differences, this will help students have a sounder understanding of the differentiations in countries.


Another scholar to discuss using Intercultural film to teach communication in is Carol Briam (2010) who explains that film can teach in 4 ways:

  • As experience
  • As case
  • As meaning
  • And as metaphor

This will serve to create understanding by the host nation to the migrants. The use of film give a light way for people to learn and become more understanding of the challenges that migrants face when they move countries. Too often the host community is ignorant or hostile to the migrants that generates tension making it more difficult for the migrants to settle and often sets a divide between the two parties. By using film, perhaps people will be more open to the challenges faced by migrants.




Pandey, S & Ardichvili, A 2015, ‘Using films in teaching intercultural concepts: An action research project at two universities in India and the United States,’ New Horizons in Adult Education & Human Resource Development, vol. 27 (4), 36-50.


Khorana S, 2016, “The Crossover: Diasporic and Inter-cultural Film and Media” PowerPoint slides, BCM111, University of Wollongong

Brian, C 2010, ‘OUTSOURCED: Using a comedy film to teach intercultural communication,’ Business Communication Quarterly, Vol 73 (4), 383-398.

Devices taking over our minds

The world has become dominated by media screens, as a society we obliviously are shown material, whether that be just shopping or even waiting for the doctor, we are being broadcasted to. Then when the mobile phone became another screen to broadcast to we again became absent minded when introduced into another sphere. Now people can interact with multiple screens at once. Even as I’m writing this, I have 3 screens, my phone, my laptop and another computer. I got me wondering why do I need all these screens? I know I could easily write this on my laptop, but I prefer to have 3 screens just for comfort. I have my phone because it’s become and extension of myself, its how I communicate and organise my life. Having another screen open so that I can freely search for information makes the writing process simpler.

Society in general have become accustomed to using multiple screens at once. Walking through the library at University it becomes how apparent this is. Media has become so easy to acquire that instead of using one screen to accomplish a task, we now use multiple. Often I see students sitting at a computer with a browser open, yet they will be scrolling through their Facebook Feed on their phones.


This photo of 2 students from my class that I asked permission to take in order to demonstrate how students are often distracted from our work by our phones and other screens. By taking a photo of people in public, you have to think about the ethics of whether this is invading others privacy, especially if the photo is going to be made public. Considering there is no “right to privacy that protects a person’s image” ( Arts + Law, 2016) the ethics regarding taking photos of people is a personal decision although generally the public don’t appreciate their photo being taken. Personally, I feel uncomfortable taking photos of people I don’t know in public and if I did I would ask their permission before taking the photo and explaining the purpose of the photo to them before the fact. In this circumstance, we recreated a situation that we see everyday amongst students at UOW.

There are no rules on how people should use their phones when they’re in public, and of course this would vary depending on the person or space. I read a Huffington Post article that tried to set some simple rules for public mobile etiquette. The article explains how we should minimise using our mobile devices in order to be less rude to others around us. It explains how we should engage in our surroundings rather than to our phones.

As a society we need to become more aware how our use of mobile devices affects those surrounding us, and set general guidelines to determine what is acceptable. Too often we are offended by others because of their mobile phone use. It’s time to decide what is acceptable and stamp out unacceptable mobile behaviour!

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Arts + Law 2016, ‘Street Photographer’s Rights,’ Arts Law Centre of Australia, <;

McCay, L 2014, ‘The Etiquette of Personal Mobile Device Use in Public,’ The Huffington Post, 19March<;