I saw the movie “The Departed” for the first time a few days ago and thought it was a great film with amazing acting and so much violence I found myself not even noticing it by the end. At least in “The Departed,” the violence was relatively without suffering – there were many gun shots and some fight scenes, usually causing instant death. If the violence in films involves a lot of torture and suffering, I usually can’t handle it.
Violence in the media is expected and often time necessary to portray a theme or event. However, is there too much violence in the media these days? I would say so, considering there is overriding research on the mass media that exposure to media portrayals of violence increases aggressive behavior in children and young adults. The National Institute of Mental Health has reported that “In magnitude, exposure to television violence is as strongly correlated with aggressive behavior as any other behavioral variable that has been measured.”
There have also been studies that have demonstrated that exposure to depictions of violence causes desensitization, fear, and even a distortion of reality. Individuals with greater exposure to media violence see the world as a dark and sinister place – often called ‘Mean World Syndrome.’ Television programs present a narrow view of the world, and the world they present is violent. So, people who watch a lot of television are more likely than those who watch less to see the world as being violent, and they probably overestimate their chance of being involved in violence.
Because there was so much violence in “The Departed,” I got used to it and wasn’t even phased by it by the end of the film. The insane about of violence desensitized me to it for the two hours I was watching it non-stop.
If there are such drastic effects of violence in the media, then why is there so much? And why do people continue to watch it, knowing the effects it could be having on their children? It could be because most people who are watching these television shows and films aren’t immersed in comparable violent worlds and enjoy the violence as a thrill of something new and different to experience.