Does Violence in Cartoons Desensitize Young Children? a Critical View

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Does Violence in Cartoons Desensitize Young Children? A Critical View

Donald Duck, Elmer Fud, Wiley Coyote, Tom/Jerry, Fred Flintstone, and Batman; are all loveable cartoon characters that exist in the cartoons children watch every day. Another thing these characters have in common is their general everyday violent behaviors. These behaviors send a subliminal message to children suppressing their moral restraint on basic assault toward each other. Violence in youth has been a rising topic, and continues to grow with more studies and research each year. Although people may blame many things, I believe the violence depicted as humor or the “super hero effect” in cartoons has a direct relation to the desensitization of violence in the American youth. Research has exposed that young children will imitate aggressive acts they see on television, and recreate those acts when playing with their friends.” Before age 4, children are unable to distinguish between fact and fantasy and may view violence as an ordinary occurrence.” (Berensin) Through critical analysis I plan to examine the effects of violence in cartoons as well as the comedic perception and the super hero effect in order to determine if they relate partly or completely too violent behaviors of young children. Every argument has more than one perception, so I will also be examining some research suggesting that cartoon violence in fact does not affect developing children. Watch an old Looney Toon, if you have a choice, watch an episode of Elmer Fud chasing Bugs Bunny. To any viewer you see the humor in it; a bunny is jumping all over dodging this slow hunter, his terrible aim, and his shotgun that never needs to be reloaded. But the reality is this hunter is ferociously chasing this bunny literally just trying to kill it. Use the same reality comparison with the Roadrunner cartoons, the coyote is a predator chasing after his dinner and using every possible resource to complete it; yea he never catches his prey, but you can try and imagine the violent episode that would entail if he did. How about all the explosions and incredible distances the coyote deals with and never seems to die, that doesn’t send the right image. I’m not saying they should show death but not showing it can give children the idea that these acts won’t affect them and that they would also be able to walk away. Violence in cartoons has been around for a lot longer then we think, in fact there is more violence depicted in a cartoon, than in live action dramas or comedies (Potter and Warren 1998). In a sense, children see more violence during a Saturday morning than a Friday night. Although this is a pretty strong convincing argument there is always another perspective. For example, the violence in cartoons yes is more frequent, but it isn’t as strong as it is on prime time TV. Bam Bam hitting someone on the head with his mallet compared to a short rape scene in Law and order, pretty big difference. Many cartoons show characters dying but the way it is perceived it’s considered funny. Prime time television shows murder depicted in a pretty real state with no joke or laughing afterwards. “In 2007, Kremar and Hight found that preschoolers who watched an action cartoon or super-hero image, as opposed to young children who watched neutral video clips or animated characters, were more likely to create aggressive story endings”(An Opposing View). These conclusions brought about the idea that aggression may be related to aggressive behavior. How does the outcome television violence usually end in destructive behavior? That brings us to another form of cartoon violence, the super hero effect. By super hero I mean super hero cartoons; Batman, Superman, Spiderman, transformers etc. All these cartoons depict violence without the comedic effect but instead with a real life scenario. “Heroes are violent, and, as such, are rewarded for their behavior. They become role models for youth. It is "cool" to...
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