Good Old Fashioned Gratuitous Violence


This morning I stole a helicopter and robbed a prostitute. I ran from the police, I caused a pile-up on a highway and I laid waste to the accumulating auto mobiles with a well placed hand grenade. Then I robbed another prostitute.

Given that you know both the general topic of this blog and, hopefully, that I’m a rational human being, I’m going to go ahead and assume that you realised I didn’t actually do all these things. These crimes were nothing more than pixels on a screen acting out the madness that generally is Grand Theft Auto VDon’t get too excited, though, this post won’t be me recounting my video gaming adventures. Instead I’m hoping to say a little something about both our blog topics for this week. Rather than just “What is wrong with the Media Effects model?” or “What is the media being blamed for today and is it justified?”, I’m hoping to answer one with reference to the other, simply because I believe the two are tightly linked. Also because YOLO.

It has become all to common for entertainment media such as video games and films, violent as they may be, to bare the brunt of public backlashes in the wake of violent behaviour. This is continually highlighted, as recently and in such high profile as the response to the late 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in the United States or the Aurora Theatre shootings of the same year. As cases develope and more facts are brought to light, the unjustified focus shifts away from violent media and further towards the actual causes of the violence (lack of effective gun control and mental health monitoring in both mentioned cases), but a knee-jerk reaction to blame violent media is fervently demonstrated nonetheless.

This reaction is supposedly justified by the media effects model, though the model is seriously flawed in various ways. In fact, given the nature of these flaws, it is suggestible that the model was a product of the reaction against certain media rather than of legitimate scientific process. The model is criticised best by David Gauntlett in his  1998 Article “10 Things Wrong With The Media Effects Model”, in which Gauntlett details the shortcomings of the model in great detail. The most relevant, and perhaps the most flawed point in the model is that, in the words of Gauntlett, “The Media Effects Model  Tackles Social Problems Backwards“. To this point Gauntlett states that the Media Effects model makes the mistake of looking at “particular individuals at certain times in specific circumstances… [whose actions] may be negatively affected by one bit of media” and deeming that that media inspired or caused that individual to act in that way, rather than that individuals actions being caused by more plausible factors such as upbringing, mental state and the like. 

This is in turn reflected in the traditional, information media specifically seeking out violent entertainment media to blame in the wake of attacks, completely ignoring that individuals responsible for the violence were already disturbed and unsafe while conversely ignoring that more than most that consume that media fail to become violent in any significant way.

I think I’m over my word count, so I’ll have to leave it there.

Did you like it? Hate it? Do you concur or… dis-concur? Maybe you just found a spelling mistake that I need to be informed about?

Let me know @Aidangerous on Twitter



One thought on “Good Old Fashioned Gratuitous Violence

  1. Pingback: Reflecting. Reflection… Reflektor. | (hardly) Working Title

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