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Laura Ciampa asks:
>Does anyone have an opinion on the studies which show that people who watch
>a lot of violent television believe that the crime rate is higher (and the
>world, in general, is a more dangerous place) than those who don't?
 
My opinion is similar to a cartoon I use for my media literacy
presentations.
It shows a garden with a variety of plants.  A tripod holds a video
camera which is pointed to the Cactus.  The transmitted image appears on
a TV and the viewer's thought balloon shows a whole garden of Cacti.
 
What people believe is formed from such a wide variety of sources we
cannot ascribe the notion of increased violence to an increase in
portrayals in entertainment.  Area 51 is a collective myth built on the
nagging suspicion we're not being told enough about what "government"
knows.  Urban myths often predate television, movies and radio.
 
The selection of sources of information is key to understanding our daily
lives.  In Canada the habit of checking a source for weather information
is (in some seasons) a survival strategy.  In the Caribbean this is
compulsive behavior.
 
People who have fears about high crime and the world being dangerous
(which is more so in a wilderness setting than in an urban one in my
opinion) need help to discover more about themselves.  Television's
primary anti-social effect is to "eradicate ideas".  Dr. Barry Sanders
was shown on a Bill Moyers series on violence saying (among other things)
TV promotes a "remotist behavior" and declared that on television you
"cannot meet yourself".  I think his work would be most worth reflecting
upon if you want to understand the effects of violence on people's
assumptions.
 
Dr. Sanders was (at the time of broadcast) at Clairmont College in
Pasedena, California.  I have no other information about him.
 
Dave Trautman
Multimedia specialist and Web Stylist for ATL
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
 
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Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite 
http://www.sa.ua.edu/screensite