Does violence in media affect violence in real life?

Does violence in media affect violence in real life?

Vikki Hartt & Kelly Rickert, Opinion Co-Editors

Vikki Hartt

“Demand a Plan” is a Public Service Announcement (PSA) released on Dec. 21, just days after the Sandy Hook shooting, featuring top actors taking a stance against gun violence. The celebs repeat “enough is enough” throughout the 1:30 minute video.

Just nine days later, a parody of the PSA was posted on YouTube under a pseudonym titled, “Demand a Plan? Demand Celebrities Go ___ Themselves.” The video calls out the celebrities such as Beyonce, Jessica Alba, and comedian Paul Rudd as hypocrites defending gun use. But, what these critics fail to accept is that movies, from action to comedies, use different types of guns and ammunition for entertainment purposes.

There is a fine line between entertainment and reality, and that’s what the public needs to understand. These actors are trained to use this type of equipment to entertain the audience, not to motivate others to use guns. There has been and probably always will be a debate about whether or not there is direct correlation between video game violence and actual violence in youth, but no substantial evidence has been found to support this claim.

Violence on screen is just that: on screen. It’s not reality. It is meant for entertainment purposes only. Movies that have substantial gun violence featuring award winning actors such as Daniel Craig in “Skyfall,” or George Clooney in “Argo,” which won the Golden Globe for Best Drama, have been acclaimed by critics and have been top sellers at the box office this year. Obviously, people are entertained by the violence in these movies.

Personally, I support the actors and commend them for trying to take a stand against gun violence. They know they are influential people in the public eye and to hear them trying to make a difference can motivate others to push for stricter gun control regulations.,0,1459122.story


Kelly Rickert

This PSA of celebrities protesting gun violence can certainly be called hypocritical. The video mocking the PSA that splices together films where these same people are portraying violence simply calls attention to this hypocrisy.

If these actors are truly against gun violence in their daily lives, they should not portray it in their films. In the wake of recent mass shootings, it may be time for Hollywood and the media to rethink how they portray guns and violence.

While some people, like Vikki, argue that violent movies are just for entertainment, there is a definite correlation that indicates that media, particularly movies and video games, desensitizes people to violence. In fact, in George Gerbner’s “Cultivation Theory” study, he states, “Television cultivates from infancy the very predispositions and preferences that used to [before television] be acquired from other “primary sources.” In film, television shows, even on the news, violence is portrayed as normal and -given the right storyline- using violence is seen as a victory. While these are designed for entertainment purposes and those watching know it is not real, it still has a desensitizing effect on viewers.

The argument can be made that studies cannot conclusively determine that violence in media desensitizes people to real violence. However, there is certainly a strong correlation indicating that it has a definite impact, especially with adolescents.

If Hollywood and the media truly want to play a role in decreasing gun violence, perhaps they should stop spending so much time featuring, portraying, highlighting and analyzing violence and the people who commit violent acts. If they continue to play roles in which they are using guns and other forms of violence, they will continue to be able to be labeled hypocrites.

For more information from Gerbner’s Cultivation Theory: