Violence in Television Before graduating from high school, the average American child will have witnessed 8,000 murders and 200,000 acts of violence on television. This overwhelming presentation of violence to society can only mean one thing: violence sells, and sells big. But we must ask at what cost? Since violence in the media has long been analyzed and discussed by researchers and media, several measures have since been implemented to stop or reduce violence on television. But even with the recent measures, such as the V-chip and a television ratings system, we must question why television violence continues and the purpose it serves. A 1999 Communication Research article reported that several studies have been conducted to reveal some of the effects television violence can have on our youth and on society in general.
The results of these studies have consistently found a correlation between viewing television violence and the viewer's aggressive behavior and lack of emotions after the viewing. In 1996, President Bill Clinton commended the television industry's implementation of a television ratings system as a step in the right direction. "The actions of the television industry show us what can happen when visionary business leaders make a commitment to values and the common good", he said. However, his comments are contradictory.
As Clinton compliments the industry for its movements to regulate the amount of media violence, he improperly supports industry leaders for making "a commitment to values and the common good". Certainly repeated violence on television does not expose society to important values and lessons. Joanne Cantor, professor of Communication Arts at UW-Madison and author of the book "Mommy, I'm Scared", discussed the media's presentation of violence. "Television and movies, by their very nature, have the ability to introduce children to frightening images, events and ideas, many of which they would not encounter in their entire lives without the mass media", Cantor said. Professor Joanne Cantor speaks on violence in the media with society's continued exposure to these disturbing images, recent measures have done little to affect the number of violent programs produced. Since money is a fundamental driver and serves as an incentive for people to work not only for themselves, but to better society, certain fundamental steps, both money related, would provoke production companies to create more innovative and thought-provoking programs.
As a result of television violence, two forms of action must be taken by society to compel the television industry to reexamine the violent content in their programs and potentially lead producers to divert from their exploitations of violence. The first would entail a national boycott by advertisers sponsoring violent programs. If such a movement could gain support and momentum, then producers would ultimately need to seriously abolish their violent programs for without the financial investment of sponsors their programs could not gain national exposure and survive. The second form of action concerns the network sponsors who have the final say over what gets aired.
Network sponsors could refuse to air any programs that are violence-oriented. However, such a move could lead to a lengthy court case featuring production companies arguing over their first amendment rights to produce such material. Once network and advertising sponsors reevaluate these programs, examine what they truly have to offer and then boycott sponsoring such programs; the television industry may too be forced to review their current standing and return to programs that exemplify a "commitment to values.".