In recent years, parents, guardians and experts have been concerned with the media becoming more and more gruesome and violent. Many believe that being excessively exposed to violence in films desensitizes audiences, which creates a more insensitive and perhaps dangerous (violent) world. On the contrary, though studies have shown that film has become more graphic (violent) over the past century, this has not led to more societal violence. According to a 2014 study, in the early and late 1900s, community violence declined despite violence appearing in movies whereas in the mid 1900s, community violence happened to increase. Therefore, there is no real correlation but only shifts in violence rates over time.
To further gain insight from others on whether film desensitizes us towards violence, I conducted a survey on social media and received responses from people who wanted to share their thoughts. When observing what others thought about the subject, I came to realize that many people think that violence desensitization through film is indeed an issue in today’s world:
Brady McClean, a university student at Georgia Southern University explains,
“I think, because of the popularity of action and horror movies… we end up seeing these sad stories and horrible acts as entertainment… Also, I think by watching these movies, it normalizes violence in our minds (especially normalizing the idea of revenge).” McClean goes on to explain that the film industry uses violence and horror to make money, and that many people go to see violent movies and horror movies as a form of entertainment; this, in and of itself, is what is most bothersome.
Fiona Ard-Kelly, also a student at Georgia Southern University says,
“We see violence all the time; it’s super normalized, and we learn not to react.”
Experts from Frontiers [in Psychology]conducted an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) study which focuses on empathy for pain. The conclusion of the study was that there was not a connection between violent video games and one becoming desensitized towards violence. Although this study concerned video games, one can correlate these findings to violence in films. For more information on this study, please visit https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00650/full .
In my opinion, it depends on the person; everyone is different, and not everyone is as influenced or affected by the media. Personally, I am extremely sensitive towards violence in the media, and I hate watching disturbing and frightening films and shows. My partner, however, is the opposite; and it is not necessarily that he has been “exposed” to more violent situations in his life, but that we just have different personalities.