Humankind is not perfect, far from it, which is readily evident in excessively common acts of violence. The methods by which violence may be cured, have been hotly debated, each method being a polar opposite of the other. Desensitization is the belief that watching violence in any form of media will lead to violent acts as the viewer becomes numb to horrors of violence. Desensitization leads people to believe that negative images or ideas not limited to that of only violence but as well as sexuality or profane language must be limited and regulated to prevent people from performing illegal or immoral acts. On the other end of the spectrum is the theory of catharsis, first introduced by the prodigious Greek philosopher Aristotle, which puts forth the idea that observing these images allow one to release pent up stress or aggression, mimicking the effect of a safety valve, rather than causing violence to occur. Violence in media does not lead to desensitization because it instead acts as a catharsis, preventing violence by instilling brutal and horrifying images in the mind of the viewer and allowing a release of pent up stress and aggression. Movies, music, and games deemed to be too violent or profane are given ratings and labels to deter parents from allowing children to experience the media. This has been done to protect the children from inappropriate or violent media, however even with these ratings in place, children still see violent or scary images in the media geared towards them. In Stephen King’s essay, “My Creature from the Black Lagoon,” he argues that to children “even Disney movies are minefields of terror” (585) and that “almost everything has scare potential for the child under eight. Children are literally afraid of their own shadows at the right time and place” (584). The fear that is instilled by these trivial and childish movies does not create mass-murderers or rapists. The images instead linger in the mind of the viewer as they age. Stephen king is still haunted by childhood movies, he said, “the images that remains forever after is of the creature slowly and patiently walling its victims into the Black Lagoon; even now I can see it peering over that growing wall of mud and sticks” (589). These images give King a constant reminder of the horrors of violence. After a great number of years he is still uncomfortable with the images he sees. The horrors have failed to desensitize him to violence.
Children are easily scared by the most mundane images of horror and violence. When comparing an adult to a child, one would believe that an adult is more capable of handling violence than a child. King disagrees with this notion, he believes that “The irony of all this is that children are better able to deal with fantasy and terror on its own terms than elders are” (586). To prove this he makes the point that if a child and an adult unknowingly on LSD were both to watch a horror film a child would only be scared with nightmares for a short period of time, but the adult unknowing that the film was not reality would be dramatically affected over a long period of time. King sees these images as “perfect points of crystallization for those fears and hostilities” (587). To King these images of horror are necessary in a child’s life. Brutal images can affect people at any time of life, not only in childhood. The fear that the tragedy, known as the Columbine High School Massacre that took place on April 20, 1999, aroused still resonates today, more than ten years later, and will take a lifetime to dissipate. Two senior students embarked on a rampage, killing thirteen and injuring countless others. In a New York Daily News article about the murderers, Dr. Dave Moore and Bill Manville are conversing about the shooting. It was explained that the murderers were avid video gamers that played games “that are deliberately programmed to make the player a first person shooter.” It is then said by Dr. Moore that in this type...
Cited: "United States Crime Rates 1960 - 2009." Web. 22 Sept. 2010.
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