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A Violent Screen

Violence on television may have a friend in Freedom of Speech, and it may be accepted as a viable means of compelling storytelling. Some might even argue that violence on television is simply portraying life as it really is.

In the role of artistic expression violence in the midst of great storytelling has brought us such powerful films as Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and even the retelling of the death of Christ in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

If we’re honest we will admit that brutality has always played some role in society and the arts. This occurs because either people are ruthless against other people or governments ruthlessly enforce their will.

In that respect the argument for violence on television and movies may indeed be a projection of life as it is, or was.

However, there are those that argue forcefully that violence on television breeds brutality in real life. The argument generally revolves around ‘life imitating art’.

One popular television show often started their program with the words, “Ripped from the headlines”. In many cases this show demonstrated in a fairly graphic detail incidents that were patterned after an actual violent event.

Opponents of what is viewed as gratuitous violence on television believe that this type of brutality desensitizes viewers to actual violence in real life. Some experts believe that cruelty in television and movies as well as carnage in video games can make the line between fantasy and reality blurry, especially for younger viewers.

In the state of Colorado in 2007 an eight-year-old girl was beaten to death when her sister and her sister’s boyfriend decided to reenact a scene from a violent video game on the girl. Could this be an example of the blurry line created by what some consider an overdose of violence?

Some argue that the incidence of violence on television has escalated over the years. Where televised aggression in the past may have been slapstick or bloodless current brutality is very detailed and gory.

The incredible realism is based in part on highly technical special effects, makeup, camera and lighting. Sometimes this can be further enhanced by computer animation. Today’s technology can do so much more than even ten years ago.

Some question whether it makes sense to create more graphic and violent onscreen events simply because it is technically possible to do so.

Even cartoons such as Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry featured violence on every short feature produced. Those who have always appreciated this genre indicate that the aggression was so far removed from reality that it was easy to separate fact from fiction. These same individuals contend that today’s television, movies and video games feature violence that seems too real to be fantasy and they further assert it is too easy for viewers to accept this type of brutality as typical.

News of violence that once garnered sympathy can often result in a passive shrug of the shoulders.

Is violence art or is art something that perpetuates brutality? Does violence on television and in movies simply portray life as it is or does it convince others to engage in aggressive behavior?

Submitted by:

Tom Phelps

Discuss all of life's most Controversial Issues at ControversialForums. Discuss Violence on Television in our Online Debate Forums.




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