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Author Topic: Social Impact of Entertainment  (Read 3036 times)
« on: June 09, 2003, 10:22:32 AM »

In fairness to this topic which originally started on "The Matrix" thread, I thought it best to transfer this broader discussion to a topic of its own.

Now continuing what we were discussing...

I know we've been talking about adults, but the following is a recent news article with some interesting insights on the impact to both adults and children. It also touches on music:

Last Nov. 15 the Spanish newspaper El País examined violence and the media. It reported how a French government commission published a report affirming that the transmission of violent programs has a decided effect on the behavior of adolescents. The commission recommended that violent or pornographic shows be outlawed until after 10:30 p.m.

The report also asked for the use of stricter criteria in film classifications. An analysis of 102 films shown in four European countries showed that of these 62 were classified as apt for the general public in France. In contrast, only 29 received such a broad approval in Great Britain, 22 in the Netherlands and 16 in Germany.

In Spain, a study carried out by a center in Catalonia revealed that in the space of only a week a total of 608 violent acts were transmitted by the national and local television stations, El País reported. Two-thirds of the violence was concentrated in the afternoon time slot when young children are watching. Another study by a consumer group affirmed that the average Spanish child had seen 8,000 TV homicides before reaching the end of primary school.

Influencing young lives

A recent study in the United States showed that children who watch violent programs are more likely to be aggressive as adults, Reuters reported March 10. The research was carried out by psychologists at the University of Michigan, who interviewed a group of children aged 6 to 10. Fifteen years later they went back and talked with them again, and also looked at their criminal records. The research controlled for factors such as a child's economic status, race, parents' personalities and occupations, and other variables.

Men who liked television shows with violent scenes as children were much more likely to have shown aggression toward their spouses, shoved someone who insulted them, been ticketed for speeding, or been convicted of a crime. Women who enjoyed violent shows were four times more likely to have thrown something at their husbands, shoved or punched someone else, been caught speeding, or committed a crime.

The researchers were especially struck by their finding that it is a child's identification with characters rather than the degree of violence that predicts later aggression. "Violent scenes that children are most likely to model their behavior after are ones in which they identify with the perpetrator of the violence, the perpetrator is rewarded for the violence and in which children perceive the scene as telling about life like it really is," they wrote.

Another study found that even young babies are influenced by the emotive content on television. Increasing evidence shows that children can distinguish and decode specific social and emotional cues much earlier than scientists once thought, the New York Times reported Jan. 21.

One-year-old infants were shown a videotape of an actress reacting to a toy with either fear or enthusiasm. After watching the scenes the babies either avoided playing with it, in the cases where it was associated with fear, or were more apt to play with the toy when the actress had been enthusiastic.

"They are able to pick up where a person is looking, and of course, they pick up the emotion," said Donna Mumme, an assistant professor of psychology at Tufts University and the lead author of the study. "It was quite striking to us that 1-year-olds were able to gather that much information from a 20-second television clip."

Social strychnine

Violence in music is also a cause for concern. A commentary by Michael Prowse in the Financial Times on Jan. 10 looked at the controversy after two teen-age black girls were killed at a New Year's party. After the killings, Kim Howells, the United Kingdom's culture minister, accused black rap music as being partly responsible for Britain's violent gun culture.

Prowse acknowledged "that rap artists write as they do partly as a result of their objective social conditions." But, he added, "even though their thinking is influenced by what they see and hear on the streets, they nevertheless contribute powerfully to the negativity and pessimism that engulfs them."

"Every philosopher with any insight into the human condition has understood the importance of culture," said Prowse. "If we are social sponges, we don't want to be soaking up strychnine all the time."

Prowse's comments were supported by a recent study carried out by the American Psychological Association, Reuters reported May 4. Experiments involving over 500 college students found that violent lyrics in songs increase aggression-related thoughts and emotions and could indirectly create a more hostile social environment. The study contradicts a popular notion that listening to angry, violent music actually serves as a positive catharsis for people.

Five experiments were carried out by researchers from Iowa State University and the Texas Department of Human Services. After listening to seven violent songs by seven artists and eight nonviolent songs by seven artists, students were given various psychological tasks to measure aggressive thoughts and feelings. Results of the experiments showed that violent songs led to more aggressive interpretations of ambiguously aggressive words and increased the relative speed with which people read aggressive versus non-aggressive words.

Unease over the level of violence, along with concerns over bad language and sexual content, has led to the formation of a new group in the United States called Common Sense Media, the New York Times reported May 21. The group is planning a Web-based media ratings system that will rank entertainment products based on language, violence, sexual content and adult themes.

Common Sense says it has an initial investment of $500,000, and its backers have pledged more. Among its supporters are Charles Schwab, a brokerage company executive, and Philip Anschutz, the founder of Qwest Communications International and a major owner of movie theaters. Two former chairmen of the Federal Communications Commission, William Kennard and Newton Minow, are on the board.

"We want to create a huge constituency for parents and kids in the same way that Mothers Against Drunk Driving or the AARP has done," said James Steyer, founder of Common Sense and author of "The Other Parent," a book about the effects of media on children.

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« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2003, 01:28:46 PM »

I think Eminem puts it best:

“Music can alter moods and talk to you, but can it load a gun for you, and cock it, too? Well, if it can, then the next time you assault a dude, just tell the judge it was my fault, and I'll get sued”

I think he captures my feelings just right. Sure, music can make you feel different, it can touch your mind and heart in ways other things can, but YOU are the one who chooses to go on a crazy at your school. YOU are the one who chooses kill the cops, YOU are the one who went picking fights! Like I said, Eric and Dylan shot up Columbine, not Lawrence Fishbourne and Keavu Reaves!

There was been violence thru out the ages. Do you think killing and fighting is a new thing? No, it isn’t, we had weapons that make it easier, and TV that brings it to our living rooms, so we notice it more, but violence that remained steadily the same. Thanks to the liberal, Communistic propaganda, people have it in there heads they are a product of the system. “How is it just that we first make criminals then punish them” is there common arguments. PLEASE! No, it isn’t just, IF we made them, but we do not! They choose these things over a life as a law-abiding citizen.

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« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2003, 01:47:50 PM »

Ok Tibby,

(I knew I could count on you)

You'll get no argument from me about holding people responsible for their own actions. I think the question though is whether there's a social responsibility on the part of the artist. As much as I hate Eminem's music and everything his genre and attitude represent, I'm not about to suggest prosecuting him for what others do, influenced though they might be by him.

Forget the legal stuff for a second though and simply ask:

Do we as Christians have a moral responsibility to not support art and entertainment that is degrading to a Christian understanding of humanity through its depiction of gratuitous sex, violence and vulgarity?

« Last Edit: June 09, 2003, 01:49:08 PM by Corpus » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2003, 01:33:31 AM »

Ok Tibby,

(I knew I could count on you)

I had a feeling you would :-D

You'll get no argument from me about holding people responsible for their own actions. I think the question though is whether there's a social responsibility on the part of the artist. As much as I hate Eminem's music and everything his genre and attitude represent, I'm not about to suggest prosecuting him for what others do, influenced though they might be by him.


Forget the legal stuff for a second though and simply ask:

Philosophy time, uh? Ok, lets dance!

Do we as Christians have a moral responsibility to not support art and entertainment that is degrading to a Christian understanding of humanity through its depiction of gratuitous sex, violence and vulgarity?

That is good questions. One’s first response would be, no, of course not. But, but Bible gets rather graphic, does it not? The bible is rather crude in places, gory in others, and in some ways, the bible says things Hollywood wouldn’t dream of putting in the big screen (for no, at least). But, all of the things in the bible have a point. If the bible just said God punished David, and gave no record of his REPEATED wrong doings, we wouldn’t understand. If the bible did not explain Paul/Saul’s story, we would never understand half of what he says.  Meanwhile, movies are only here to entertain. Or are they? Such as in Bruce Almighty, he did some wrong things with his powers, but he learned and repented, and we learned with him. So, maybe some movies with parable-like qualities need the violence and sex. That is a whole other discussion.

But let us for a second imagine we are only talking about movies like Fast and the Furious (the sequel of which I just came from seeing). These movies, the bad guy is the good guy, and the good guys (like the cops) are bumbling buffoons. The one cool cop ended up letting the bad guy go in the end. Are movies like that for Christians to watch? Good question. I feelings, if you can handle it, watch it. I’m sure we agree that a little wine is ok, but for an ex-alcoholic, they might want to stay away, right? Maybe it is the same with movies. If you enjoy it, go for it, but if you can’t handle it, or you just don’t like it, then don’t do it! Sure, some movies are clearly not health for Christians to watch, porn for example, and those R movies that borderline on porn. But a little action, sure, why not? Not every one is an unstable freak who is about to go postal, post people are. This is why we have age limits on movies, hopefully they have matured to the point where they can handle these things and not copy them!

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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2003, 01:50:44 AM »

Well there is a lot to consider and ponder on about the article(s) you posted but the question you asked in your second post is quite easy to answer.

Do we as Christians have a moral responsibility to not support art and entertainment that is degrading to a Christian understanding of humanity through its depiction of gratuitous sex, violence and vulgarity?

Well easy if you take out this statement degrading to a Christian understanding of humanity.  Not because that makes the question hard but it is either poorly worded or maybe you don't realize what you just said.  There is nothing degrading to the "Christian" understanding of humanity.  In fact our understanding is that we are bron with sin and so we are corrupted from birth.  This is just plain biblical.  There is none righteous no not one makes this blatently clear and scripture only continues this FACT.  So if anything humanists will find the Christian understanding of humanity degrading.

Christians should not support things that are against God.  Anything that the LORD has shone us as immoral is immoral.  Secular man can not do this because they have not the LORD hence our need to bring them the gospel that the wrath of God abide on them no longer.  Joh 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

We need no psychiatrist or other fancy termed schooled people to tell us these things.  Man is inherently violent and I do not believe that man has gotten any more violent.  In fact I'd say we are less violent then times past but more violent than the recent past.  Even that is up for grabs really.  Cain killed able and he had no rock music, TV shows, movies, or anything else to influence him other than sin.  

It shocks me not one bit that one year old children can interpret emotions and scientist have been dufuses on this for ever.  My son is but 20 months old and you should se some of the things he tries.  His temper is wretched and I need to discipline him on this often.  I'm sure it'll be quite hard to control as he gets older but discipline is what he'll constantly learn the same as God Chasens us.  Children are not nearly as inept as people would like to believe which is why I have no problems disciplining my son when he does young and like wise I give him praise for doing good.  He knows how to pick things up when I tell him and he knows many a thing that some children have no clue on.  

been caught speeding

This bares no relevance whatsoever but is typical fodder for what I'm still not sure.  Getting "caught" speeding means nothing.  The chances of getting "caught" speeding have a few varibles that increase that chance though I know of but one person who does not speed.  If you drive a sports car for instance the cops eye you 100% more than if you drive a regular car.  I can attest to this as for the fact when I drove a Grande Marquis cops wouldn't even notice me.  When I had my Z-28 I could be going slower than everyone and I would see them eye me out.  But anyhow...

People complain about TV shows and violence but never mention a word about the amount of violence found on the news which airs thoughout the day and is actually real as opposed to the movies or other shows.  Why is it OK for the news to show violent REAL images but so wrong for fake or imaginary violence?

Shall we not take our own bibles into account?  Think of the massive amount of violence in the Old Testament.  The story of David and Goliath ends with David cutting the head off of Goliath.  In first Samuel David kills the Amelikite for claiming to have killed Saul and then in second Samuel not only kills the two men who killed Ishbosheth but cuts off their hands and feet and hangs them up for all to SEE!!!!  How about all of the first born of Egypt being killed, entire towns including women, children and cattle being destroyed as commanded by God?  Is this not "gratuitous" violence?  This can be found in our bibles which we expect our children to read should we now shield their eyes from such monstousities?

So do tell Corpus what is your understanding of these things?

« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2003, 08:58:18 AM »


As I've indicated (maybe it was in the other thread), Scripture has a point to what it is telling us, violence or not. I'm not trying to be puritanical here because God knows I'm far from it.

As far as degredation is concerned, let me explain. A Christian understanding of humanity recognizes in part that the dignity of man comes from our being chosen by God to be a part of His plan. Actions that are glorified for the sake of themselves and that are expressly or implicitly forbidden by God are un-Godly. Carrying this further, we as a society can be influenced and ultimately drawn away from our Christian walk by some of these influences. One could argue these people so affected  weren't right with the Lord to begin with, but that denies the reality each of us faces daily with temptation and sin. The Christian understanding becomes degraded as people then begin to rationalize what they do by either twisting scripture or redefining it. This is appealing to people who want it justified either way. Understanding then the damage these genres can do to someone's life brings me back to my question of OUR responsibility in setting an example for others, by refusing to be entertained by such things.

I think the analogy of your child is a very good one, and would assume you understand the responsibility that comes with parenthood. It is teaching our children not only by what we say but in what we do. It is leading by example.

Now your point about violence in the Bible is an interesting one and as I stated before I believe scripture has a purpose to what it depicts even if I don't fully understand it at times. And to reiterate, I'm not implying that violence at all times and for all purposes is wrong. It is in fact determining just what is gratuitous that is key and how one goes about it.

My question then becomes how does one determine what is pornographic and what isn't, or what is gratuitous and what isn't? I mean does a Hollywood rating system hold the cards for Christian discretion? Because a movie was made by Tri-Star instead of Porno Inc. should we simply say it's not pornography?

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