The debate against violence on television has been going on for many years now. Relative to the hundreds of different essays, articles, and news columns written opposing the overwhelming presence of violence on TV, there has been very little written in favor of TV violence. In March of 1994, David Link wrote an article for Reason Magazine entitled "Facts About Fiction", defending fictional violence on television. David Link is a fiction writer, and feels that it is the context in which the violence is depicted that really works to deliver its message. With any fictional movie, show, or series made for TV, the violence portrayed is part of an entire story that if given careful consideration and reflection, is ultimately adorned as a bad thing. Although adults have the capability to arrive at such a contemplative conclusion, most children lack the cognitive ability to do so.
Therefore, David's argument is a valid one, but does not directly address the concerns of those who fight on the other end of the spectrum. David's article begins with him making the careful distinction between real-life violence, which dominates the prime-time news, and violence of fictional works of art". We are far too much in love with the real-life violence on television to want to do anything about it". Anytime something violent or morally questionable happens in real life, it is sure to find its way to the nightly news. It is because fictional violence is held in the same regard as the "implicit or explicit" violence seen on the nightly news that there is such a great problem. Fictional TV is the least violent of all the dramatic mediums out there today.
Unlike non-fictional acts of violence seen on a day to day basis, the violence in fictional works is almost always "presented in the conventional moral framework". Because it is part of an entire story, which in the end depicts violence as a bad thing, it cannot be blamed for the problem in society today. People must not take the violence out of the context in which it is delivered. Every act of violence is part of a whole, not like those individual acts that we see on our favorite news stations every night. There are of course those films that do not follow the basic principles of morality. For the most part, these films do not make it to TV.
Generally, if violence is committed in fictional writing, the antagonist commits it. If violence is used by the protagonist, it is either to " accomplish justice, or ultimately for self-preservation". In all three of these cases, violence is seen as a bad thing, or as a means to a positive end. It is ultimately the parent's job to teach their children about watching TV.
It must be made clear that there is always a message being sent, and it is that message that is the most important. If we continue to blame artistic creativity for the current problems in society, we endanger all the wonderful things that come from those great artists. David is extremely successful in presenting his point of view to the reader. We definitely should not blame fictional violence for all the problems in society today. The context in which the violence is provided is extremely important when making assertions against the influence of fictional violence.
More importantly, Link asks a very important question concerning society: Why are we (society) so drawn to violence in the media? He uses great satire to depict our fascination with these acts of violence; he describes it as human nature. However, David does not accurately defend what the majority of people against TV violence are attacking: The effects of these violent shows, movies, etc. on children. For the most part, Link makes the argument taking only adults into consideration. Children, by no means have the same capabilities as adults. David's main point is that all the fictional violence on television is presented within a "moral framework".
When the story is considered as a whole, it would be hard for adults to mistake the message of story as one that glorifies violence. Unfortunately, many kids can't draw such conclusions, and are therefore negatively effected by the excessive presence of violence in today's media. According to Barbara Hat temer, "Two-to six-year old children cannot evaluate the messages they receive from the media they watch. They simply accept what they see as normal behavior" (pg. 23). The truth of the matter is, there are many other dramatic tools, as Link puts it, that can be used to evoke human emotion other then violence.
That's not to say that those tools aren't used in today's media, but violence does seem to be the most commonly used one. As an artist myself, it's hard to say that regulation of creativity is the right way to go about solving this issue of violence on television. Art, although it works as an individual outlet and form of expression, must be considered with a certain amount of social responsibility. When a form of art is reaching such a large amount of people, especially when a majority of those people are children, the effect it is going to have on them must be taken into careful consideration.
David Link articulated himself very successfully with "Facts About Fiction". His points were made very clear and backed up with many examples to further illustrate his beliefs. Although Link writes in defense of violence on TV, I think he would agree that the excessive violence is having a negative effect on children. From what I have read, the plurality of activists in the fight against violence on TV, are fighting because of the effect it is having on the children. Link writes as if the adults are the ones being effected by the violence on TV. In fact, this is not the case.
Overall, "Facts About Fiction" makes some important points about society today, and provides a perspective that forces us to think about the real effects violence on television is having on that society.