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Is Media Violence a New Global Problem?

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Media Violence: Truth or Fiction?

A common belief among the national community states that violence in the media is linked to violence in reality. In his article, “The Myth of Media Violence”, Andrew O’Hehir combats this ideology to suggest that there is no link between media violence and violence in reality. This article pushes forth points, and proof that this ideology is incorrect and has no backing. He helps readers reach this conclusion by connecting with all ages and using a sarcastic tone while speaking of the opposing arguments.

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SYNOPSIS AND CONTEXT

The two assumptions that the article addresses are based off of the average American viewpoint of media violence. The first assumption being that we live in a violent time that is filled with violent people. While the second assumption is that entertainment is far more violent now that the entertainment from the past.

O’Hehir’s article addresses the social and political views on media violence. He conquers the political problems by attacking the political problems through accusations of politicians’ looking for a cause to promote themselves; while attacking the social problems through disproving the validity of researches; while. When attacking the political sides of the issues, he addresses Hillary Clinton’s point of view with sarcasm to disembody the relevance and validity of her speech. Within the article, O’Hehir addresses that, “Henry Jenkins observed that the idea that violent entertainment had consistent and predictable effects on viewers was ‘inadequate and simplistic’” (2). He uses this statement to prove that fact that the researches that have linked media violence to violence in reality are wrong and that their facts are incorrect.

The article addresses the social and cultural issues of this ideology by drawing upon history to remind the reader just how violent people were. He addresses both the violence of people in the streets in the past as well as the violence in the media. He addresses the novel “Deadwood Dick on Deck” saying that, “100 people are killed in the first two chapters” (5). By addressing a novel, he is trying to relate to violence in all forms of media from television, to movies, to books.

AUDIENCE

He originally publishes this article to reach an audience of: gamers, parents, peoples with an opinion on the subject without doing their research, families, and politicians. O’Hehir is trying to relate to people that either play games with violence, or have a family that might have young children. The audience is likely to bring the assumptions and knowledge that most families have: the belief that the media, whether it be video games, television shows, or movies, are making people (as a whole) more violent, without questioning what they have heard. As well as they are expected to value the idea of lowering crime rate.

The other expectations O’Hehir has of the audience is that they either have been engaged in media violence or have a memory of a violent tragedy. He uses examples such as, “a few days after the Columbine shootings in 1999” (O’Hehir, 2) to trigger a memory in the minds of people that lived through the experience. Another memory he tries to trigger for an older generation include, “’Davy Crockett’ miniseries of 1954” (6). By bringing out a reference to a show on air in 1954, he tries to relate to an older generation: one that would remember the show and the level of violence that was shown.

On the other hand, he also tries to relate to newer generations by bringing in connections that they too would understand. He calls upon, “the fans of ‘Resident Evil’ [a current video game] and ‘Doom’” (5). By addressing video games that were released recently, O’Hehir is trying to relate to a younger audience as well.

PURPOSE

Andrew O’Hehir’s motivation for writing his article was to address the issue that the majority of the population believes there to be a higher crime level than in the past, as well as media violence being at a higher level than in the past. The main objective of this article is to persuade people that the fight against media is incorrect, or at least the research behind the movement is incorrect.

As well as he believes that people buy into what politicians say too easily without looking into the facts they use, or the facts that might disprove their theories. He mainly addresses Hillary Clinton’s view that, “’Parents worry their children will not grow up with the same values they did because of the overwhelming presence of the media” (1). He goes on to address her opinion by stating, “no claims that we were breeding a nation of perverts and murderers, and no mention of all the supposed science indicating a link between simulated mayhem and the real thing. … Katy bar the door!” (2). O’Hehir responds to Mrs. Clinton’s view point by using sarcasm, the sarcasm that makes her point seem ignorant and not well thought out.

Another primary goal of O’Hehir’s article is to inform, persuade, and educate the population on the lack of a link between media violence and violence in reality. He uses multiple examples to educate people that what they previously learned was wrong. He establishes the idea that people on the other side of view might want an outdoor outing instead of playing violent video games and then leads into his point about how violence can be seen outdoors at any time. He does this be recalling, “Owensboro, Ky., where on Aug. 14, 1936, some 20,000 citizens of all ages crowded into the courthouse square. … when sheriff’s deputies brought a man names Rainey Bethea out to the scaffold, where he was hanged” (5). He addresses the idea that people used to use the death and hanging of men as entertainment, to prove that people wanted to see violence outside the home in the past. Another example of violence without the media that he gives the audience is, “During the Reign of Terror in revolutionary France, children were given 2-foot-tall toy guillotines they could use to behead birds and mice” (6). By offering means of violence from before the time of media, O’Hehir suggests that violence can be seen without media as well.

GENRE AWARENESS

The genre O’Hehir chose was to write as an article. Articles are generally used to get a point of view across and/or address news. In this case, O’Hehir was trying to argue a point and then inform his audience of this point. He wanted to inform the community, on the site where it was published, on his topic. The audience assumes and expects the article to inform them of both sides of an argument; yet audiences tend to flock towards sites that tend to have the same view point as their own. For example, if a conservative was going to go to a website to check the news, they would most likely go to foxnews.com rather than msnbc.com.

Articles have a few limits and constraints as well, that O’Hehir would have to consider before publishing an article. The first limitations of articles is that only a certain sect of people read that website on average. Liberals would, in most cases, not be reading foxnews. Another disadvantage to articles as a genre is that people have to go out of their way to look for an article on a certain subject, rather than just stumbling across it. And the final consequence of writing an article is that O’Hehir has allowed access to people that are looking at the same point of view as him rather than reaching out to all thought styles of people.

STANCE

His attitude towards the issues comes off as passionate, and annoyed. He is annoyed that people do not look into the research given by politicians before believing what they hear. He attacks the researches that provided information on media violence and gets the result that, “Huesmann and Eron write: ‘Nowhere have we ever indicated that media violence is the only or even a major cause of violence among youth.’ … These guys, whose quasi-bogus research subjected us all to a thousand preachy Oprah shows and Joe Lieberman speeches, now say that media violence is not a major cause of real-life youth violence” (3). By proving the researchers wrong and using a sarcastic tone, we are able to see his passion and annoyance at the other side of the debate.

His position on the topic comes off as intimate and personal. This is shown when he tries to connect with his audience in order to make them feel the same way that he does. By applying things like, “fans of ‘Resident Evil’ and ‘Doom’” (5), he addresses things that would make the younger generation relate to him. By drawing on different examples from multiple time periods, O’Hehir is allowing people of all ages to relate to him.

The important issues to O’Hehir seem to be that people are not questioning politicians and researchers, and that they do not look into the two assumptions that are made by the majority of people. He uses these points with backing from facts about media, research, history, as well as logical thinking. By using a sarcastic tone, such as his, “Katy bar the door” (2), comment he addresses the opposing opinion with a tone that allows the reader to question what Mrs. Clinton was saying. He claims that people (researchers and politicians) have put out false assumptions, but even worse, the common person believes these without challenging them.

MEDIUM AND DESIGN

One of the main things that this article has taught is that it is different to decipher a text rather than just read it. Reading a text, or in this case an article, requires the audience to look into a text. To understand the text it is crucial that the reader understands: the tone, position, medium, audience, and context. Then the reader must put all of these parts together to try and see why the article, or text, was written. Until the audience is able to put all things together it is impossible to truly understand what the text was about.

This article allows the audience to gain a different perspective on the idea of media violence then the norm. O’Hehir uses his two assumptions (that most people have) to address the normal idea of media and violence together, and then he combats the idea with a new way of thinking to make the reader be persuaded to understand his point as well.

By analyzing a text, my writing will change. It will become a reference for me to reflect on when including tone in my assignments. It can help me draw upon the idea of relating to my audience. This article can impact my writing by showing how to create a new idea of connection with my audience. It has taught me that writing needs to be addressed to someone and that it must be kept in mind throughout the entire text.

O’Hehir’s article attacks the two general assumptions about media violence, while trying to persuade his audience that there is no clear link between media violence and violence in reality. Through his use of a sarcastic tone, and witty remarks, he is able to connect to the audience in a way that makes the opposing viewpoint look frivolous. He connects with his audience by drawing upon ideas and memories that they would have had, whether they are of an older generation or a newer one. By writing this article, O’Hehir has captured the attention of the opposing viewpoint long enough to persuade others to question their stance.

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