Totally Deep Discussions: On violence in entertainment media, Part I: Perceptions

Violence is primarily defined as “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” Throughout the time that entertainment media has existed, violence has been a subject of controversy in some form or another. From contact sports to video games to movies, television, and even books, violent content is up for debate.

Not everyone sees violence the same, however. Some people are huge football fans, but if you take into consideration that the collision force between two players is comparable to a car crash, it’s understandable how people might find it a bit brutish. Some people find video games like Call of Duty to be cathartic, while others think it can give a psychological predisposition to become more violent in the future. Seeing violence in television in movies is arguably completely different from experiencing it in real life, but others would disagree, saying that with an increase in displays of violence within those media comes an increase in audiences’ desensitization to violence.

Hopefully most people can agree murder and other forms of violence are unacceptable in real life cases. What is interesting, though, is when violence gets translated into the entertainment realm. There isn’t as uniform of an answer. Why might that be? Well, it probably has to do with the subjectivity of the reasoning behind why violence exists in certain media. That answer also varies depending on the type of violence and when such exposure of violence occurs. For example, some people will think that a television episode containing a bombing might not be best for broadcasting around the same time a bombing has actually occurred in real life. Additionally, some people will think gang violence, like a drive-by, is easier to watch on-screen as opposed to sexual violence, like a rape.

I don’t really know if I have a goal for this totally deep discussion, but I at least want to express what thoughts that I had about types of violence in entertainment media and why they’re there. I can’t cover everything, but I will steer the discussion in the direction of the things that I hear and see more often in regards to violence in entertainment media. Stay tuned.


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