More comments on “Media reinforce fears”

Media Reinforce Fears. Variety Special Report: Violence & Entertainment, January 2013.

Although I’ve posted about this article before, I have a few more thoughts about it.

Quite a valuable article that approaches from a different slant the issue of media violence and its connection with real life violence. Whereas many media researchers approach the matter head-on and attempt to study the connection directly and others have approached the matter from the point of media violence leading to desensitization and then positing that desensitization to violence enhance the potential for real life violence, the author of this article works from the well-documented causal connection between media violence and enhanced fear in the viewer.

He refers back to the well-known theory of media scholar George Gerbner, the so-called mean world syndrome. Gerbner’s idea is that due to many, many individuals watching media violence in large doses, many begin to see the world as a scary place. The media violence in question can be both fictional and non-fictional, that is the news. Regardless, once the world is seen as more scary, naturally the individual needs to protect himself. How to do this? By packing a gun specifically or by being ready to respond to violence or perceived violence with violence.

Once the society begins to see itself as riddled with dangers, then further violence in self-defense can become the norm. Even if violent crime rates in the country seem to be dropping, the populace at large sees violence as more common. Hence greater fear. Hence a greater proneness of the individual to see violence as a reasonable response to danger.