Violence and the Media

Violence and the Media

Violence and the Media

Violence and the Media

Synopsis

Why is there so much violence portrayed in the media? What meanings are attached to representations of violence in the media? Can media violence encourage violent behaviour and desensitize audiences to real violence? Does the 'everydayness' of media violence lead to the 'normalization' of violence in society? Violence and the Media is a lively and indispensable introduction to current thinking about media violence and its potential influence on audiences. Adopting a fresh perspective on the 'media effects' debate, Carter and Weaver engage with a host of pressing issues around violence in different media contexts - including news, film, television, pornography, advertising and cyberspace. The book offers a compelling argument that the daily repetition of media violence helps to normalize and legitimize the acts being portrayed. Most crucially, the influence of media violence needs to be understood in relation to the structural inequalities of everyday life. Using a wide range of examples of media violence primarily drawn from the American and British media to illustrate these points, Violence and the Media is a distinctive and revealing exploration of one of the most important and controversial subjects in cultural and media studies today.

Excerpt

Over the centuries, the heralding of each new medium of communication – whether it be the printing press, the cinema, radio, television or the Internet – has been accompanied by a host of popular anxieties about the cultural influence of its content. In each instance, the depiction of violence has been singled out as a matter of urgent public concern, with impassioned disputes unfolding over questions of taste, decency, morality and (never far behind) censorship. Each medium continues to pose diverse challenges for those engaging with media representations of violence today, not least with respect to the familiar problem of how best to differentiate the public interest from what interests the public. Precisely how this distinction is made, of course, will necessarily invite strong reactions from those with deeply-felt convictions about the possible consequences of violent imagery for our society.

In this light, it is not surprising that Cynthia Carter and C. Kay Weaver's Violence and the Media addresses from the outset the cacophony of claims and counter-claims about the effects of violent imagery on media audiences. This field of debate, as they show, is sharply polarised between those who insist that media content has a decisive impact on people's behaviour, and those who refuse to accept that any such correlation can be upheld at all. In seeking to elaborate a third position, Carter and Weaver provide an evaluative assessment of the varied definitions of violence, as well as the main theoretical frameworks, employed in a wide variety of media analyses. Each chapter delves into a distinct area of enquiry, from news accounts of violence, to cinematic portrayals, televisual representations (especially those directed at children), pornography, advertising and cyberspace. Researchers, Carter and Weaver suggest, need to focus greater attention ‘on the extent to . . .

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