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Can the Nation-State and Culture Combine Forces to Reduce Interpersonal Violence in the West?

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Can the nation-state and culture combine forces to reduce interpersonal violence in the West?

Violence is a difficult term to define, but for the purposes of this assignment violence can be defined as a crime or the threat to commit a crime by one person upon another person, and that usually that has negative physical or emotional effects upon the victim. Violence in Western society has been increasing steadily and has become a major concern for many nations. Increasingly, much of the violence is committed by male children and teenagers. Crimes by young people are no longer just misdemeanors, but they now include the major felonies of rape, robbery and homicide. The rise in violent crime in the last few decades has been accompanied by a rise in violence in the media, especially television, movies and music. To protect society, the US government must impose regulations on these media outlets so that audiences are not subjected to too much gratuitous violence that may influence them to commit such acts of violence.

Much of Western society's contemporary behavior is influenced by popular culture, usually by such media outlets as television, movies and music. Arguments exist today concerning the amount of responsibility that the media has to portray such violent crimes as unacceptable. The most popular of such beliefs is one that argues that the media is currently romanticizing the use of violence to gain an audience. Proponents of such an argument claim that if the media displays violence in a less glamorous way, interpersonal violence can be reduced. For this to happen, the nation-state must play the important role of regulating how much and what types of violence media sources can show, and to which audiences.

Some people, mostly men, enjoy viewing or hearing about acts of violence. Some even find it exciting to participate, on one level or another, in violent acts. Television programs, movies and music capitalize on this fact by showing or describing gratuitous acts of violence. Even news programs see the importance in covering violent interpersonal crimes in their broadcasts to gain high ratings. Western society is interested in conflict, and enjoys being a third party audience to such violence. The problem with this is that by consuming too much violence through the media, the viewer can become immune to the effects or consequences of violence and may be more prone to commit crimes, or less likely to respond when witnessing another becoming a victim of a crime.

Many researchers point to the fact that men are "dispensable" creatures as the reason for their affinity to violence. The fact that one man has enough sperm to produce an entire population means that they have to compete for females. This competition drives them to commit violent acts against each other to better their chances of finding a mate. Of course, such behavior is not common today, but sociologists argue that this is how men developed their violent nature towards each other. Another related theory of why men are more violent than women is that historically separate populations have always been in competition. Competition for land, resources and women. To protect their genetic makeup and ensure that their genes will be passed on to future generations, the males of the population acted violently towards the males of any population threatening their own. One example of this is the holocaust, in which the Nazis attempted to exterminate the Jewish population in order for the Aryan race to prosper. The fact that men are more inclined to commit violent acts against one another more than towards women and children reinforces the argument that they act violently in order to ensure their genes will be passed on to future generations.

In the past few hundred years it seems that men have become less violent, supporting the argument that violence is unlearned. To become a more civilized species, humans have adapted to abstain from committing violent interpersonal crimes. It seems this trend is becoming undermined by television, music and movies. By the age of 18, the average American television viewer has witnessed over 32,000 murders and 40,000 attempted murders on television alone (American Psychological Association). These statistics do not include such violence seen in movies or heard in music. To witness such an amount of violence is clearly unrealistic and exploitative. Violence is being used by television programs as a superficial way of grabbing and holding an audience's attention. Producers of television programs that show violence must take the responsibility of showing a realistic amount of violence on their shows. That is, they must not use gratuitous violence to appeal to male viewers, or else the violent crime rate in the United States will rise.

The federal government in the US has taken the initiative to curb not only the amount of violence that can be shown by one program, but also the level of violence that can be shown and to what audiences. By limiting the amount of violence shown on television before 10pm, the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, is trying to make sure that children are not exposed to the levels of gratuitous violence intended for more mature audiences. As early as the 1960s, studies reported that watching television can make children more aggressive. In fact, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the National Institute of Mental Health have all linked violent television and movies with aggressive behavior in young people. Watching violence can also leave children fearful or make them less sensitive to real violence and its consequences. One of the biggest problems with experiencing violence in the media is the fact that it is often portrayed without consequences. When an audience sees violence without remorse, criticism, or punishment they do not get a realistic view of violence, and may



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