The role that media plays in the socialization process is difficult to overestimate, especially given the increasing importance of Internet in the life of society. Our desires and attitudes are ‘created’ inside of our heads by media producers who are skilled in manipulating our thoughts. Gerard Jones uses the word ‘inspire’ when explaining the relationship between media violence and real-life violence. This has an embedded message that children have some initial predisposition to act violently and media only provokes the natural attitudes by embracing and dramatizing violence. Yet evidence shows that while media violence might indeed catalyze the violent attitudes by presenting violence as ‘natural’ and common, it also ‘creates’ real-life violence by creating the perceived connection between violence and hegemonic masculinity, which inspires young boys to act accordingly.
Media usually influences people during the so called ‘dream state’, when the conscious and subconscious inside of us are relaxing, and people are thus not aware of any interventions being made. More specifically, our consumption of media products happens during the ‘dream state’, given that people usually consume media products in order to relax, without being aware of the potential danger it might lead to. Such practices include watching television, surfing the internet etc. In such situations, our mind is in its most vulnerable state, given that we are relaxed, and our mind ‘goes’ on some sort of a ‘vacation’. We are thus very vulnerable, and prone to adopt the system of values, attitudes and desires that are created for us by some other subjects that aim to achieve their own egocentric goals. In other words, children who consume violent media products take the artificial reality that they are offered for granted. Children are usually not prone to think critically, especially in regard of their own thinking process and thinking abilities, which creates problems in terms of defining the difference between the real world and the artificial reality.
Media creates the perceived connection between violence and masculinity, which lead to the situation where violence is not only reinforced, but also ‘created’. Mills and Keddie argue that media is a strong and powerful cultural text that actively participates in the construction of social values (427). Violence presented in media is often embraced and is shown as one of the characteristics of hegemonic masculinity. For instance, the study conducted by Kivel and Johnson found that heavy consumers of violent media in general associate masculinity with violence more than individuals who consume less violent media (109). It is thus logical to assume that violence in the way that it is presented in modern media is perceived by many as the way of constructing masculinity and presenting it to other people. Given that the big segment of violent media consumers are teenagers, they are especially susceptible to this type of influence.
Violence in the way that it is presented in modern media indeed ‘inspires’ the real-life violence. In addition to this, it ‘creates’ real-life violence by showing violent behaviors as one of the ways of constructing masculinity. Masculinity is associated with violence, aggressiveness, and strength, and media makes a very full contribution in terms of reinforcing this perception. Given the fact that children are in general not prone to think critically, the effect that violent media has on them is difficult to overestimate. It is thus important to understand the reality beyond the one that is offered by media in our everyday lives, but not to wait until the shackles of media power fall off by themselves. Whilst violence indeed is a part of real-life experience, it should not be removed from media completely. Rather, the way that it is articulated and presented should be changed.
- Kivel, B. Dana, and Corey W. Johnson. “Consuming Media, Making Men: Using Collective Memory Work To Understand Leisure And The Construction Of Masculinity.” Journal Of Leisure Research 41.1 (2009): 109-133. Web.
- Mills, Martin, and Amanda Keddie. “Cultural Reductionism And The Media: Polarising Discourses Around Schools, Violence And Masculinity In An Age Of Terror.” Oxford Review Of Education 36.4 (2010): 427-444. Web