Research Paper: Should Sex and Violence on Television or in the Movies Be Restricted

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Shoud sex and violence on television or in the movies be restricted?

There is presently much controversy regarding television and the effect it has on the public as a whole. Although most people claim to be able to filter the information they receive from their television sets, it is virtually impossible for someone not to be affected as a result of watching particular scenes. Given that most television producers are aware of the fact that sex and violence are essential in drawing audiences, they are devoted to introducing these two elements as frequently and as explicitly as possible. Viewers are negatively influenced as a result of seeing sex and violence on television and something needs to be done regarding this-namely to limit the two audience-magnets during prime time and in point of fact throughout most of the day.

Even from the early ages of cinematography people have put across a positive reception of violence and sex. Audiences were prepared to deal with such matters long before the appearance of television and cinematography in general because writers produced texts on the topics consequent to seeing that readers and the masses as a group enjoyed being provided with them. "In tracing the history of research into questions about violence in the media, a number of historical milestones can be identified over a period spanning more than sixty years. These were related to concerns about violence in the cinema, violence or horror on the radio, violence in comics and finally, violence on television" (Gunter, and Harrison 1).

The general public has turned its attention toward television ever since the early fifties, when televisions set became available to more and more people. Concomitantly with the progress experienced by television, a series of movements emerged, with the apparent purpose of reducing the degree to which television sets captivated and manipulated audiences. Most of these movements motivated their behavior through claiming that television programs influenced young individuals (in particular) in getting an erroneous understanding of certain values in life. Among the groups concerned in the state of affairs were "parents, educators and the church at the forefront of highly public debates lobbying their governments and political representatives about media influences" (Gunter, and Harrison 1). Even though they had little evidence to prove this, a number of television reviewers were certain that the device was responsible for the rise in crime levels. In order to combat such claims, television supporters stated that the apparatus was in reality a source of education for young individuals, providing them with more than they could learn from conventional sources (Gunter, and Harrison 2).

Television dominated the mass-entertainment landscape throughout the twentieth century, as it rapidly developed in the last few decades of the era. The 1920s were a time during which motion pictures became widespread and by 1930 the U.S. industry sold an approximate of ninety million tickets every week, from which approximately seventeen million were children under fourteen years old. While most might tend to believe that the contemporary cinema industry is totally different from how it was in the 1920's, matters seem to be different. At a closer look is appears that the three main categories present in movies from the 1920s and from the present are "love, sex and crime" (Gunter, and Harrison 2).

Considering the number of children attending motion pictures, it only seems natural for critics to rise against sex and violence depicted in films. One of the first official tests involving young people and the effect sex and violence seen in films had on them took place in 1928 under the guidance of William H. Short, who was interested in devising methods of determining the effects of motion pictures. Even though researchers found that movies displayed sex and violence differently from how they were in reality, they did not manage to come up with more information of the matter. Numerous studies on the subject were conducted across time, with the data generated by such researches being more and more conclusive. "One study of delinquency-prone youngsters reported that motion pictures played a direct role in shaping delinquent and criminal careers" (Gunter, and Harrison 2).

Violence on television is not only likely to induce confusion in young individuals, but it can also be offensive for people in general. Television companies have slowly but gradually been pressed into installing a system of regulations as regards the materials they issued, as audiences have become more choosy about television programs. Surely, the level to which one can feel offended as a result of viewing a particular television program is relative. It is primarily based on subjectivity, as some people might consider that a television program is extremely offensive whereas others might believe that there is nothing wrong with the information it communicates. A violent portrayal may be regarded as distasteful, but may not result in any harmful side effects. Elsewhere, audiences may enjoy a screen portrayal of violence. but, the same portrayal can also be scientifically demonstrated to give rise to potentially or actually harmful consequences if one viewer decides to copy it or if certain sections of the audience become either more accepting of such behavior or more afraid of becoming victims of such violence themselves (Gunter, Harrison, and Wykes 1).

It is difficult to determine if television sex and violence should truly be controlled and even removed from television programs. The masses have been falsely informed by television critics a propos this topic. Television critics might fight for a noble cause but, like most critics, they are aware that they have to come forth with exaggerated information meant to persuade viewers in believing them (Gunter, Harrison, and Wykes 1). It is thus impossible to evaluate the impact of television on people by merely looking at articles written by critics. Critics can somewhat be held responsible for the fact that television has a negative effect on audiences. In most cases, critics are interested in removing explicit sex and violence scenes from television programs. Instead of bettering the situation, this act can have a terrible effect on viewers, as they are no longer able to filter information and subtle scenes involving sex and violence become available to children. Televised sex and violence can as a consequence be provided to children with their tutors being less able to intercept them.

Young people are extremely vulnerable to what they see on television, and when it involves aggressive behavior, they have a tendency to believe that the respective program is inspired from real-life events, thus making them more likely to engage in violent activities. To a certain degree, the people interested in watching violence on television have been previously oriented to behave aggressively, this making it seem that violence on television is not necessarily influencing people, as numerous individuals had already been interested in the sphere of influence. "On the other hand, Bailey (1993) interviewed violent young offenders and sex offenders and claimed that watching violence on television was significantly causal in 25% of cases of aggressive offending" (Gunter, Harrison, and Wykes 113). Other researchers have taken on other strategies with the purpose of determining the connection between television violence and the same acts of violence replicated in real life. However, most have reached the conclusion that the situation is much too complex for someone to convey an accurate verdict (Gunter, Harrison, and Wykes 113).

Discrimination is also promoted through television programs, with sexism being taken to a whole new level, again influencing young individuals to believe that it is perfectly normal for them to employ misogynistic strategies in their relationship to women. Television also shows women as being much less probable to engage in acts of violence, while men are regularly shown doing this. This surely generated waves of confusion among the masses, as some have falsely understood that society constantly discriminated women in real-life (Gunter, Harrison, and Wykes 113). Violence is not the only thing that is essential in inducing aggressive feelings in young television audiences, as the reasons for which characters engage in acts of violence are also of great importance in the condition. Given that they are more vulnerable to being influenced, teenagers can identify with actors they see on television and believe that it would not be abnormal for them to react violently while in a situation similar to the one on television (Gunter, Harrison, and Wykes 113). In order to seem appealing to viewers, violence also has to be justified, since only by knowing that the character on television committed an act of aggression with a purpose will people be inclined to believe that it would not be harsh if they also did it (Krcmar).

Soap operas are particularly harmful for young people because they are typically directed as families, with no age group specifically being a target for these films. Although violence is less observed in such motion pictures, sex compensates for this. Not only is sex a central point in soap operas, but it is also illustrated as taking place between young people, adolescents especially… [END OF PREVIEW]

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