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TV Violence

Is that the way it really happens? - Researchers compared real homicide data to what we see on TV shows such as CSI. They wanted to find out if these shows presented real public health information and if they portrayed what really happens when a homicide is committed. The results were mixed.

When researchers at the Mayo Clinic compared two popular television shows, CSI and CSI: Miami, to actual US homicide data, they discovered clear differences between media portrayals of violent deaths versus actual murders because previous studies have indicated television influences individual health behaviors and public health perceptions.

Psychiatrist Timothy Lineberry says, "We make a lot of our decisions as a society based on information that we have, and television has been used to provide public health messages." Lineberry and his team discovered that the strongest misrepresentations were related to alcohol use, relationships, and race among perpetrators and victims. Actual statistics show that both perpetrator and victim were often under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs when the crime occurred, which is different from what the shows portrayed. Also, CSI and CSI: Miami were more likely to have described both the victim and the attacker as Caucasian, which is also untrue. Finally, according to the CDC data, homicide victims typically knew their assailant; however, the television series were more likely to have portrayed the perpetrator as a stranger.

Lineberry says, "If we believe that there is a lack of association with alcohol, that strangers are more likely to attack, and that homicide doesn't represent particular groups of people, it's difficult to create public health interventions that the general public supports."

TV may not have cleaned up its plots, but films HAVE cleaned up their language. Teenagers catching a teen movie this summer can expect to hear half as many swear words as their parents did 25 years ago.

That was the unexpected finding that 3 communications professors discovered after studying profanity in G, PG and PG-13 rated teen-targeted movies from the past three decades. Researchers Mark Callister, Dale Cressman and Tom Robinson discovered this surprising fact by watching G, PG and PG-13 rated movies from each decade that featured teen characters or had plots that revolved around teenagers.

Callister says, "We were quite surprised at the findings. When you consider that profanity is increasing on television, especially during the 9-10 p.m. hour, and in music lyrics, you often expect to find similar trends in other media."

The 1980s movies averaged 35 instances of profanity per film, while that figure dropped to 25 profanities per flick in the 1990s and dropped again to 16 instances a show in the 2000s. They found that the trend over the last three decades shows a decrease in usage across nearly all profanity types, including sexual profanity, strong profanity and mild profanity."

Maybe they've substituted violence for dirty words.

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