CJ STONE WRITES – In the aftermath of the Las Vegas mass shooting that left more than 50 people dea, a debate is underway over why such acts continue to occur. In the process, “the media” is being singled out by some for, if not causing the problem, at least contributing to it.
The suggested causation between violence and the media has thrown social psychologists into a frenzy of debate for years. Countless studies have found this idea to be more true than not. The New York Times stated in 2013:
BLOCKQUOTE: “There is now consensus that exposure to media violence is linked to actual violent behavior — a link found by many scholars to be on par with the correlation of exposure to secondhand smoke and the risk of lung cancer. In a meta-analysis of 217 studies published between 1957 and 1990, the psychologists George Comstock and Haejung Paik found that the short-term effect of exposure to media violence on actual physical violence against a person was moderate to large in strength.”
Also, Charisma News uses Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook shooter, and James Holmes, the man who went on a rampage in a Colorado movie theater in 2012, as prime examples of violence in the media leading to violence in society, because both were found to be avid players of video games such as Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft.
Also, following the recent shooting at Washington State High School, the Spokane County Sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich argued, “You started glorifying cultures of violence. You glorified gang culture. You glorified games that actually give you points for raping and killing people.”
While many Americans are set on the idea of a violent media leading to a more violent society, Japan is quick to disprove this theory. Japan is a pristine counter example, because Japanese citizens consume almost exactly the same amount of violence in their media as their U.S. counterpart.
However, the crime rate in Japan is four times lower than the U.S. and the murder rate in Japan is one of the lowest in all the developed countries at almost zero. The U.S. holds one of the highest murder rates, with four homicides for every 100,000 people.
Studies dating back as early as 1981 have found that Japanese and Americans experienced the same amount of media violence. The biggest difference was that Japanese media violence tends to last longer and focuses more on physical pain. Other findings included that 75% of Japanese media violence was committed by the villain against the protagonist in comparison to the American media showing an even split of violence between the villian and hero. The last major finding was that Japanese media portrayed more of an emphasis on the consequences of violence in comparison to american media.
Is violence in media, such as video games, really the answer to reducing violent murders, mass shooting and other forms of violence in the U.S.? Or, should we be looking to countries such as Japan which has one of the strictest bans on firearms and still consumes violent media for assistance?