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Popular Culture Influence of Popular Culture on Violent Behavior Introduction For this paper, I have chosen to investigate the link between popular culture and violent behavior. This is due to my keen interest in many aspects of contemporary popular culture and an awareness of its influence in not only my own life, but also in the lives of teenagers across the globe. Thus, the stimulus for this research was personal and lay in my yearning to discover whether the correlation between violence and popular culture really existed, and if it did, how strong and influential were its effects on individuals and society? Many commentators argue that popular culture and mass media are ways of brainwashing the masses into the ways of a dominant social order. However, others see it as a means through which minority groups with subversive values challenge the dominant social order. This was seen with the advent of the rock music scene in the mid-late 1990 s.
There are two main types of culture, high and low. In 1871 E. B. Taylor defined culture as: that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, customs, and many other capabilities and habits acquired by... [members] of society. Here Taylor was talking about high culture, an aristocratic view of past-times such as ballet, theatre and art.
Popular culture, on the other hand, is a form of low culture and is based primarily on marketing, mass production and revenue. Low culture is what is sold to the masses, ergo, low culture equals mass culture. All these terms refer to popular culture, defined in the Oxford Dictionary of Sociology as: accessible to everyone. Popular culture is far more widespread than high culture and in the United States and in Europe, for example, it is dominated by television, films and recorded popular music. This research focuses on low (popular) culture, and its influence on violent behavior. Through the analysis of both quantitative and qualitative information, as well as the examination of recent cases in relation to violent behavior, this study will determine whether this link exists, and if so to what extent.
In addition, the study aims to discern whether popular culture is a way for dominant forces to exert control or whether it can trigger violence in individuals. 1. Popular culture has an Influence on Violent Behavior Popular culture is something, which affects us all. With the information revolution and the advent of new technology - such as the Internet and mobile communication, popular culture can be easily accessed by many groups in society. Therefore, it has become an increasingly significant area of study for todays world. This section looks at the ways in which popular culture can influence violent behavior and examines a number of theories, which infer that popular culture - in the form of film / television and music - can influence deviant behavior.
A lot of figures illustrate the vast amount of violence shown on TV. What affect could this have on the viewers behavior? A variety of studies have been carried out to ascertain the possible affects. Experimental Studies: Linking Popular Culture with Violent Behavior The first major studies conducted on popular culture and violence were undertaken by Albert Bandura and his colleagues in the early 1960 s.
They looked at the relationship between visual violence and aggressive behavior. Initial studies concentrated on young children and their responses to on-screen violence. The young participants were shown a film of a model that kicked and punished an inflatable plastic doll. The child was subsequently placed in a playroom setting and the incidence of aggressive behavior was recorded. The result was that children shown the violent images were more aggressive in the playroom than those children who were not. Bandura's findings highlight a definite link between popular culture, in the form of television and film, and violent behavior, showing that the relation is a real one.
Upon his findings, Bandura commented that: People who watch television for any length of time will learn a number of tactics of violence and murder. Television is a superb tutor. Bandura's research underlines a young childs inability to choose what they will watch and to discern between fantasy and reality in their concurrent social background. Using the same technique as Bandura, Liebert et al discovered a relationship between cartoon violence and violent behavior in young children by subjecting the participant to visual stimuli and subsequently putting them into a social environment with children who had not been subjected to the cartoon violence. Lieberts experiment supported Bandura's finding that the participants subjected to the violence displayed more aggression and violent behavior as well as a greater willingness to hurt another child.
The outcome and shocking nature of many violent acts linked to popular culture are immeasurable and the effects cannot be recreated in a laboratory as was seen in Littleton, Colorado on April 20 th 1999, where 25 students were killed by Eric Harris and Dylan Kle bold, members of the consequently infamous Trench-coat Mafia. Violence in Films Since film was introduced in 1923 as a means of entertainment, violence has played an increasing role as a way of enthralling the masses. However, it is only in recent films such as The Gangs of New York (2003) and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) which have displayed gratuitous amounts of violence, the latter highlighting a real disparity with its certificate. Films such as The Silence of the Lambs (1991), Seven (1995), Copycat (1995) and American Psycho (2000) may be read, in part as a cinematic response to the contemporary groundswell of fear and anxiety about victimization and public safety that has been particularly significant since the 1980 s. Ekman, in his findings with his associates in 1972, saw that the more vulnerable, those with mental disorders or character development issues or even young children, could find the short-lived proximity evolve into a long-term obsession. They found that people whose facial expressions depicted the positive emotions of happiness - pleasure, interest or involvement - whilst viewing televised violence would be more likely to harm another person than those who displayed disinterest or displeasure.
This infers there is a link between popular culture and violent behavior in certain individuals. The evidence discussed so far makes it hard to deny the link between crimes such as violence, and television. One third of young, violent offenders admit to consciously imitating crimes from television. But what happens when the visual stimulus is taken away? Is violent behavior inherent to popular cultures such as film and television, or is there sufficient information to prove music has an influence on violent behavior? Violence in Music Music has not always been related to violent behavior.
Even throughout the 60 s and 70 s when bands such as Iron Maiden, Kiss, Black Sabbath and Judas Priest were on the rock n roll scene promoting subversive values and sadism, violence was never a real issue. Although many of these iconic rock figures did condone drug taking and some non-Christian beliefs, they were not deemed as influential enough to young people to incite violence in their nature. It was the introduction of Gangster rap in the late 80 s and early 90 s to the music industry, reaching music lovers worldwide has caused many groups to start to take note of the violent imagery and verbal articulation in artists lyrics. The escalating media battles and criminal activities carried out by big name rappers in America has transcended into the everyday lives of young children and teenagers internationally through music icons such as Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. The uncontrollable hatred between these two sides of the rap industry has sparked major gang wars between East and West Coast gangs such as the Bloods and the Crips. The persuasive lyrics and violent imagery; killing policeman, raping women and murdering girlfriends, get into the minds of the listeners causing abhorrence between people from different gangs and races in America.
The power of the spoken word is shown by the fact that their fans practice what these icons preach. Not only is it the lyrics of these rappers that have a major influence on their fans the everyday behavior that these icons display has a substantial effect on the consumer: "When a 'gangsta' rapper is able to commit a crime and get away with it - it does make the crime more legitimate in the eyes of the 'gangster' rap consumer It is clear, that individuals who are subject to the violence inherent in areas of the music industry, such as rap, can be influenced by both the violent lyrics and lifestyles of these musicians. This demonstrates the link between popular culture and violent behavior. The Long-Term Effects of Popular culture Most criticisms of popular cultures such as television and film regard the short-term effects of over exposure to violent imagery. However, studies have been conducted regarding the long-term effects of violence on television and in films and the effects they can have on individuals over a long period of time.
An initial longitudinal study was conducted by Lefkowitz in 1972. He and his colleagues were able to demonstrate long-term effects in a group of children followed up over a ten-year period. Confirming studies previously demonstrated in 1963 by Even in the relationship between preference for violent media and the aggressive behavior of children aged eight. The only question was whether this relationship would hold a grip at later ages in a childs life.
To answer this question the investigators obtained peer-rated measures of aggressive behavior and preferences for various kinds of television, radio and comic books when the children were eight years old. Ten years later, when the members of the group were eighteen years old, the investigators again obtained measures of aggressive behavior and television program preferences. Their results indicated that in boys, preference for television violence at age eight was significantly related to aggression at age eight, but that preference for television violence at age eighteen was only sometimes related to aggression at age eighteen. This indicates a high level of influence on younger children who watch violence on film oppressing them into violent acts and behavior but a lower influence in older children, but still a noticeable influence.
This leads on to the question of predicting adolescent aggression from knowledge of their television The important finding here is the significant relationship, for boys, between preference for violent media at age eight and aggressive behavior at age eighteen. Equally...
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