and television ignores this. The precision of viewer attitudes is part of the
complexity of these media and their appeal.
Contemporary society is awash in wild, but widely believed, claims
about the movies, television, and the audiences for them. This, combined
with perceptions of the sophisticated electronic technology of movies,
video, and TV, contributes to the widespread fear of the manipulative
powers of these media. Aside from the rhetoric that maintains their acute
manipulative powers over audiences, little evidence supports these fears.
Such claims really will not stand up to an examination of them.
Moreover, in order to stand up they must be premised on a view that
takes humans to be, in great numbers, lacking in rationality and
discrimination. Given the insufficient evidence to demonstrate the
claimed effects of film and television, as well as the fact that humans are
neither as mindless nor as uncritical as they would have to be for such
effects to influence them as is claimed, this entire line of thinking is on
very shaky ground indeed.
Variety, December 13, 1961.
Ellen A. Wartella, "The Context of Television Violence," The Carroll C.
Arnold Distinguished Lecture, Needham Heights, MA, Allyn and Bacon, 1997.
Michael Gartner, "O.J. Circus, Blaine TV," USA Today, October 3, 1995,
Cited in an editorial, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, July 15, 1994, p. 4.
David Gelernter, "The Real Story of Orenthal James," National Review, October 9, 1995, p. 47.
USA Today, May 13, 1996.
Judith Valente, "Do You Believe What Newspeople Tell You?" Parade
Magazine, March 2, 1997.
See, Richard Zoglin, "Sitcom Politics," Time, September 21, 1992, pp. 44-47; Fred Barnes, "Insurrection," The New Republic, June 22, 1992, pp. 12, 13; Andrew Rosenthal, "Quayle's Moment," New York Times Magazine, July 3, 1992, pp. 10-13. Initially, most commentary criticized Quayle, but for a different
opinion, see James Bowman, "Too Much Mr. Nice Guy," National Review, June
22, 1992, pp. 21, 22.
See, U.S. News and World Report, November 1, 1993, p. 11. Taking up Reno's side, see Gerald Howard, "Divide and Deride: Prevalence of Stupidity in
the Mass Media," The Nation, December 20, 1993, pp. 772, 773. For more
critical views of Reno's position, see Frank McConnell, "Art Is Dangerous:Beavis & Butt-head, for Example,"