Criteria for Evaluating Media Violence Essay

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No Universal Criteria for Evaluating Media Violence

In a famous speech in 1995, Bob Dole, in an effort to gain more conservative support for his impending Republican Presidential Nomination, unleashed a damning indictment of the movie industry, seemingly unprovoked and somewhat puzzling. (Lacayo) Dole's speech and especially the rebuttals to it raise many questions central to the debate over violence in film: is violence destructive to impressionable viewers, is violence critical to the success of the industry, does violence have aesthetic value, who decides what is violent, and if something is found to be violent, should it be banned? By going beyond Dole's speech to carefully examine these questions, it is found that
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Taking this into account, it is no coincidence that Dole selected The Lion King, Forrest Gump, and True Lies, all huge money earners, as his films that represent exemplary "family" films. (Lacayo) Viewed purely as an industry, violent content is vital to the success of current feature films; tobacco and alcohol companies produce and sell products that are proven to have negative effects, yet are allowed to continue selling. There is no concrete evidence regarding the effects of violent content in film, so how could an entire industry be penalized for speculation. However, to view this situation in terms of money only would seem cold-hearted, so other variables must be taken into account.

One such variable would be the question of whether film violence has actual aesthetic value, specifically if it has artistic worth. One would be hard pressed to argue that violence is not entertainment, the high grosses and popularity these films generate disprove that theory at it's core, at least from the standpoint of the public. Why do people watch scenes of extreme violence if not to be entertained? Perhaps people watch violence for it's cathartic value, releasing emotion in a healthy manner by allowing the characters onscreen to act out their personal, as well as the audience's emotions. Or possibly, people watch for the stimuli they receive by watching such hyper-kinetic action. Maybe people watch to admire the stunts and special effects

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