MEDIAPROP Shooting the TV Messenger
Violence in our popular culture has been reported by mediaprop as being of epidemic proportions, and the critics want to shoot television as the messenger. Academic researchers, social critics, and politicians have inveighed against TV portrayals of sex and violence. The constancy and the pervasiveness of that criticism already has produced a consciousness of totalprop, and there is little likelihood that the criticisms will be mitigated. What is more, there is little likelihood that television will get the unspoken message: Although it cannnot be proved that it is creating violence in the society, or even mirroring it, it is denying the society the most effective use of the medium and thus limiting the potential of the popular culture.
Television does not create and model violence to the degree that it is charged and with special regard to children. Other far more powerful forces are at the roots of violence. The unwelcome fact is that actual violence has decreased as television violence has remained constant or increased. Television is guilty of a far greater crime -- of omission rather than commission -- the exploitation of audience time and focus of attention; a far more debilitating oldprop than that with which it is charged.
Fruitlessly, television has defended against these spurious charges with spurious defenses: Its content mirrors life, and violence and sex are understood by its viewers as dramatization or play. However, it is undeniable that the media exploit violence. Television newscasts lead off with crime and violence. Violence as a plot line can be counted on to hold viewers, an oldprop that does little to enhance participation in the popular culture.