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Censorship of Media Violence

Censorship of the media is a hotly contested topic. The public has declared that
there is excessive violence portrayed on television and that this violence ultimately
negatively affects viewers, especially children.

Censorship is the regulation and control of information and ideas that are circulated
among people within a society. It refers to the examination of electronic and print
media for the purposes of altering and/or suppressing parts of the media thought to
be inappropriate and/or offensive (Microsoft Encarta 97) The implication of
censorship is that it is necessary for the protection of the viewing public. The
following is a discussion of violence portrayed in the media, its impact on the
viewing public, and censorship of the media. This paper also provides a viable
solution to the negative impact of the violence in the media. Violence In the Media
and Its Impact It's inconceivable not to think that television couldn't influence our
attitudes and behaviors. Neil Postman makes this point by outlining America's
movement from a typographic society to telegraphic society. (Postman, 1985) This
is not to suggest passivity. Much of what is aired on television is fictional. However,
proponents of censorship argue that television creates a false sense of reality and
influences not only young children but teenagers as well.

In one incident after viewing the movie The Program, a teen-aged boy was killed
and two others were injured after lying down along the centerline of a highway. The
teenagers were imitating a scene from the movie. Touchstone Pictures removed the
scene from the movie as a result of the tragedy with the teenagers. Another
incident in Ohio, five-year-old Austin Messner set his parent's house a fire killing his
sister after viewing the popular MTV cartoon Beavis and Butthead. In response MTV
moved the program to a time slot four hours later. However, did not claim
responsibility. (Microsoft Internet's explorer) The implication is that people are
passive beings easily influenced by what they see. Another implication is that all
people have shared experiences and will think and react alike. Neil Postman
advances the thought that television viewing is our way of knowing ourselves and
the world ( Postman, 1985)

E.B. White wrote "I believe that television is going to be the test of the modern
world, and in this new opportunity to see beyond the range of our own vision, we
shall discover either a new and unbearable disturbance of the general peace or a
saving radiance in the sky. We shall stand or fall by television." (Murray, 1995)
White was correct. Television is either beneficial or detrimental to society, perhaps

Should the producers of these programs be held accountable? Yes. Increasing demands from the public forced the industry to develop a system classification in 1968. The major networks voluntarily adhere to a self-regulating system this is in conjunction with regulations established by the Federal Communications Commission. Censorship is not only controversial but quite difficult to implement. especially children are not definitive. Who decides what is inappropriate or too violent. such vague terminology would be difficult to define. Evidence can be provided to support either position. Analysis As stated above the effects of television violence on viewers. 1997) The V-chip is the most current weapon in the censorship battle. Censorship Unfortunate tragedies such as the MTV related incident and the Program related incident draw strong public support for censorship of the media. Television is a multi billion-dollar industry. there exist studies that would equally support both theories. (Bandura et al. A series of studies conducted by Seymour Feshbach and Robert D. Certainly. American society has long since passed that point. however. They concluded that many studies didn't specify reasons for why correlation was made between television violence and violence in society. 1977) After analyzing several social and experimental psychology studies David Howitt and Guy Cumberbatch arrived at a similar conclusion." (Feshbach & Singer. 1963) The innumerable and varied studies on this subject suggest that there exist no definitive answer. Another factor should be considered before drawing any correlation between television violence and influence of viewing . (Microsoft Encarta. A logical inclination would be to agree with Feshbach and Singer. producers should be concerned with the content of their programs. they explicitly state that the issue "arises from a concern over an important contemporary social issue. Speculation of the effects of television violence on the viewing public will continue. (Howitt and Cumberbatch. Some underlying issue is the basis for such drastic behavior as lying in the middle of highway and not merely the influence of television. The examples cited suggest the potential and very real impact on the viewing public. 1975) Albert Bandura on the other hand set the precedence with his studies correlating the viewing of television violence and promoting violence among viewers. Singer suggests that television violence does not promote violence in children. However. The primary concern of the television industry is to net a profit and then entertain the consumers. The network with the highest rating means more profit the network. His various studies provided strong evidence of televised violence producing aggressive and/or violent behavior in viewers. the lack of research suggests this type of extreme behavior is more the exception and not the norm.both. For many years the film industry has practiced a form of self-censorship. Parents are able to block certain channels so that children are not exposed to violent programming.

However establishing a sound foundation is important. These alternatives aren't difficult to implement. It's pertinent that self analyzation occurs before we begin to blame the media for anything. 1999) This statement can be applied to literal speech or television and/or movie content. As David Gordon said "The antidote for wrong. It would be interesting to know their respective opinions about the content of today's media. the existence of bias among the researchers. What does it say about American society when a gratuitously violent television programs get high ratings? What does it say about how we socialize our children? Are the programs an accurate reflection of our reality? Solutions The alternative options aren't new and have probably been discussed before. Television should never be used as an electronic babysitter. help the child select appropriate programs. Television is a constant form of entertainment and occasionally an average source of news. There are many unanswered questions produced by the continuous research on television viewing of violent programs. as Austin Messner's mother should have been. Guidelines to regulate electronic media exist.television violence. This is not to suggest that a child can be monitored 24 hours a day. being aware of what your children are watching. rather than restrictions on the original speech. Television should be a technology by which we are entertained and informed." (Gordon & Kittross. television has been blamed for much of societies flaws because it is easy to attribute it to violence in the media . or offensive speech should be more speech by those who disagree with the original statements. Parents can and should take responsibility for what their children watch: 1. However. 2. Society has been affected and will continue to be affected not only by television but the media in general. Howitt's and Cumberbatch's Mass Media and Society was published in 1975 they espoused then that the media on whole needed to be reevaluated. as is suggested by the unfortunate Messner case. establish guidelines of appropriate times. and 3. however. however it is necessary to discern what we consider appropriate programming. not potentially violating free speech. dangerous. personal accountability and responsibility are the cornerstones to healthy television viewing habits.

Viking Penguin Inc. 3 1995 Bandura. 1999 How to Cite this Page MLA Citation: "Censorship of Media Violence. D. 1975 Gordon. Television is a small part of a much larger societal picture and should be weighed as such. and Cumberbatch G.and a social of lack of initiative. "Imitation of Film Mediated Aggressive Models" Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 1963 Feshbach. S. 4 No. Neil Amusing Ourselves to Death.com/view. Television and Aggression. . Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. "Children and Television Violence" Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy. & Ross. 1997 Postman.123HelpMe. and Kittross Controversies in Media Ethics. D. R.A. A. S.." 123HelpMe. Mass Media and Society.com.asp?id=11540>. 1985 Microsoft Internet Explorer Murray John P. 04 Mar 2015 <http://www. D. WORKS CITED Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. and Singer. Ross D. 1977 Howitt.