How Much Violence is There in the Mass Media Product?
By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher
*Editor’s Note: This article is part of our parenting series. For similar stories, click here.
Ascertainment question: How much violence is there in the mass media product?
As presented in detail earlier, media violence is a critical problem because of its influence on children and susceptible individuals. It’s important to know how much violence is in anything you or your children are considering watching. Many contemporary movies and television programs push the limits of violence, while others avoid gratuitous, bloody violence while increasing violence as spectacle.
There is a huge audience for big action movies which are now streaming and available on every screen with violence presented as sanitized, choreographed spectacle. There is a smaller, but still considerable, audience for gruesome bloodletting. With this popularity comes the danger of peer pressure to see them. While parents may have no interest in them, they need to be aware of what their children may be encouraged to see. Movieguide® reviews, available at movieguide.org, include a violence content section that can help you avoid nasty surprises.
One of the more popular horror movies was IT CHAPTER TWO (2019) with the following content:
Creature takes a bite of someone’s heart after taking it out of the person’s body
Woman is almost drowned by a rising tide of blood in a bathroom stall
Monster stabs a person in the chest with a claw after monster transforms itself
People are attacked by naked elderly ghouls conjured by the monster
Crazed man stabs another man in the cheek
Another person eventually stabs the crazed man in the head to the death (not fully shown)
A giant Paul Bunyan statue comes alive and several times tries to strike a man with his large pickax as he chases the man,
It’s implied that the evil clown villain chomps off a young girl’s head after the clown opens its mouth wide and the mouth has lots of sharp teeth in it
Decomposing corpses come alive several times and try to attack people
A head without a body sprouts crab claws and tries to attack people in one sequence
A villain’s heart is crushed after it’s taken from the villain’s body
Man throws a pointy steel javelin device into a villain’s large mouth
Creepy clown menaces children and adults, etc.
Recurrent intense depictions of child abuse and molestations by parents.
Such imagery is stored in a person’s memory. It is a visual toxin. Since, teenagers are the most likely to attend these types of movies, it is important to help them understand why they need to make wise choices before they consume any modern mass media artifacts.
Discernment question: How is the violence presented in the mass media product?
The emotive heart of drama is conflict and the ultimate conflict ends in violence. The Bible is full of violence and the Gospel story has one of the most violent scenes imaginable, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The presentation of violence in the entertainment media is not always bad and is sometimes necessary. It is, however, critical to protect young children from such violence and to identify how the violence is presented in the entertainment product so you can discern whether it’s necessary and furthers the Good and the True.
Ron Maxwell, director of GETTYSBURG, said that while violence was essential to the movie’s storyline, he purposely avoided porno-violence with its excessive blood, guts and gore. His discretion made GETTYSBURG a better movie that could reach a broader audience.
On the other hand, violence can have a demonic, pornographic appeal. The Roman Empire featured spectacles of live violence. Gladiators fought to the death, Christians were fed to lions and all manner horrible killing was offered as entertainment to a stadium full of spectators. This same demonic taste can be fed with movies, videos, games, and online content. It is, in fact, a stage into which many people addicted to pornography sink. What may start out as simple sexual attraction devolves into darker and darker pits of hell. As discussed earlier, horror movies and violent video games obviously stimulate the brain.
*Editor’s Note: These articles are adapted from Dr. Ted Baehr’s THE CULTURE WISE FAMILY book. You can buy a copy from www.movieguide.org or on Amazon.