The consequences of being exposed to violence in entertainment media, and honestly news media as well, on a large scale are hard to pinpoint; it’s also very tricky because this affects people, and no two people are 100 percent alike.
What I will say, though, is that I don’t think entertainment violence is either a direct or a sole cause of violent behavior. Again, the violent acts covered on the news and the way that the news covers them can also contribute to violent behavior. Rather, I think entertainment violence is part of a synergy including psychological, sociocultural, environmental, and philosophical factors that push people to do violent things.
Additionally, I think that there is more likely to be some kind of inherent or suppressed aggression in a person that bubbles to the surface as a result of watching or playing something violent that would cause them to be violent. Things like violence never come out of nowhere, nor are they the result of a singular stimulus, although it can start from a stimulus. What I think would be more likely is a chain reaction, a cumulative and comprehensive process in which entertainment violence is included that leads people to commit violent actions.
Now, I have a hard time believing that violence in entertainment media desensitizes its viewing population to real-life violence. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I just don’t think that is what’s happening. If anything, what entertainment violence is doing is warping the reality of violent situations.
In several cases for various reasons, fictional entertainment media will sacrifice realism to tailor whatever scenario they’ve planned to use to the context of the plot that has been written. For example, a handgun likely to have no more than 6-10 bullets in a cartridge is used by a police officer in a tv show who is firing off over 30 shots without changing the cartridge a single time.
Also, in general, the information regarding various forms of violence, the things that pertain to it, and its effects are only found in discreet places; you’d have to be interested enough to look if you wanted to know about those things. For example, I would probably have to find a blog, find experts, and read books about the impact of football on its players, about the engineering and physics that goes into guns, and the like.
What makes the reality warping of entertainment violence effective is that there are plenty of people in the world who have no accurate frame of reference when it comes to violence because they have little to no in-person experience. For example, I have no idea what it’s like to be punched in the face nor do I have any idea what it’s like to punch someone in the face. So, I might have no idea what the bruising coloration would look like or how long it would take for that coloration to subside. Although I think that would depend on the amount of force used in the punch and the duration for which someone sustained the damage, I might not have a frame of reference except for what I’ve seen in the movies or on television. However, I watch enough mixed-martial arts and boxing that I do have a good enough idea, but you get the point.
You can always make a choice, but you can’t choose the consequences. But those consequences are not always so cut and dry. There’s a lot more that goes into entertainment violence than just saying that it’s simply violent. I hope I’ve been able to get that across in some shape or form during this discussion as it comes to a close.