Why are we so Obsessed with Violence in America?

From violent TV shows like the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones to video games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, we are no strangers to violent acts in culture. In fact, we have almost become desensitized to it. Even the media, once a place to check up on what is going on in America, has turned into sensational news that only shows and tells us gruesome details in order to keep us interested. The question is, why is 2016 American entertainment so much more violent than it was 20-30 years ago? Why has the government allowed more and more leniency on shows for violence? Most importantly, why do we, as a culture love violence so much?

According to this article on the center for media literacy, violent scenarios can actually act as a drug for us. Violence is something that we often don’t see in real life and thus it can be extremely exciting to view on television. We can view these violent acts as something to fill our mostly boring, average lives. Likewise, television pushes all the right buttons to light up our neurological senses in order to make it so we get “hooked” on the show, because they pander to our aggressive natures that we often suppress in real life situations. These television companies do things like this to make money. They don’t care about the fact that they are desensitizing more people and children to violence. They do not think about or care about the fact that this desensitization could result in more violence. when the youth of today is faced with a problem, they, perhaps, will use violence to solve that problem because they have become used to violence and have learned so much of what they know from violent television shows and video games. 

We originally looked at violent TV shows and movies, and why they become so extremely addictive for us. Now, let’s look at the more stereotypical “violent” thing–video games. Why are video games always portrayed by the media as “too violent” but violent movies and TV shows get a pass? Why are infamous video game moments like Call of Duty’s No Russian over no russian (video here) allowed to show the mass shootings of innocent civilians (WARNING: The video above is extremely controversial. Watch at your own risk). The question is, why do game developers make this violence so common in their games? Well, according to this article, it’s quite simple. read this! Game developers make violence in a lot of games because it causes a lot of tension, which we associate with a good story that keeps us focused. Likewise, it keeps our adrenaline up– something that TV shows do as well, as I previously mentioned.

The main issue with video games over television in the violence factor is that in games, you are the one controlling the violence. In Call of Duty, you kill hundreds of other soldiers. In Grand Theft Auto, you kill, torture, and rob many people. Likewise, with multiplayer now being the norm, you are, in fact, killing another player’s character. If you think about it, in essence, you are killing someone else. Likewise, video games are played a lot by kids, often without parental supervision. Movies and television, however, often do have parental supervision.  According to this articleover 91% of kids between 2-17 play video games. 91%! That is a huge majority of kids. Parents often don’t understand what their child might be playing. Often times, parents allow their children to play games without knowing the rating of the game. Therefore, many children are playing violent games where they murder people and beat people up. There is no supervision to stop them! They do so because it heightens their senses, give a sense of escape from real life, and give them the adrenaline boost they want. Granted, I’m sure not all of the 91% are playing violent video games.. but many are.

So, in conclusion, Americans as a whole enjoy violent video games and other media because it helps them with their natural want to escape from reality, helps push their adrenaline up, and focuses on their neurological wants to get us hooked. Violence has become second nature to Americans that we often don’t consider the consequences of our children growing up in a world filled with violence everywhere we turn. Will it lead our children to becoming more violent? Unfortunately, only time will tell for that.


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2 thoughts on “Why are we so Obsessed with Violence in America?

  1. Derrek Koblinsky

    Madelyn I could not agree more with you in this post. Second I want to thank you for paying homage to Modern Warfare 2 in the post. As a video game enthusiast myself I can say that video games like call of duty, halo, and many other shooters are exciting. In addition, maybe it could be due teenagers or kids trying to fit a narrative that is similar to the characters in these games. Young adults or adolescents that are playing these games may be wanting to emulate the characters so that they have a sense of danger or recklessness that makes them cool. Another narrative that could be possible is that if you are not playing these exciting games, you are looked down on or a pariah. Either of which could be possible, or there could be even more possibilities.

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