Newswise - Parents complain more about violence in films than they doabout gratuitous sex. Hollywood producers seem to thinkviolence is a necessary ingredient in a film that's aimed atthe crucial pre-adolescent male audience. But film violencemay not draw viewers to the extent that Hollywoodthinks it does, according to one communications expert, whocomplains that viewers are "already buzzing about theincrease of violence in the final installment of the 'StarWars' series."
Glenn G. Sparks says, "Violence is generally perceived as anecessary component in making a motion picture interestingand entertaining. But in this study we could not find thatviolence, such as hitting, punching, shooting and killing,was really contributing to the overall appeal of thefilm?These results draw attention to the assumption thatviolence is necessary to enhance the appeal of a movie. Thisis something to think about on the eve of the summer movieseason."
Most research on violence in the movies is concentrated onhow or whether violence increases viewers' aggressivebehavior. But nobody questions the assumption that violencemakes films more appealing to young male viewers. Althoughpeople do like scary films, Sparks' analysis shows that ifsomething really scares a person, then he or she is probablycompensating for the fearful feelings by enjoying anotheraspect of the movie, in order to block out the feelings offear. The enjoyment of the "fear factor" in films mayactually come from the feeling of relief that rushes inafter the scare is over, or as a result of the body'sphysical changes, such as the heart beating faster. This isthe kind of feeling that comes after the sudden adrenalinerush brought on by riding on a roller coaster. But mostpeople don't enjoy the feeling of fear itself, because itthreatens their sense of well-being. This is especially trueof children ages 9 to 12, who many parents believe are oldenough to be exposed to violent films.
Sparks says, "Parents worry about their younger childrenwatching violence?but older children, who have a betterunderstanding of reality, can be even more disturbed bythese images."
Sparks questioned 134 adults, after half watched thefull-length version of "The Fugitive," a 1993 movie starringHarrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. The other half of watchedan edited version of the film with 11 minutes of violenceremoved. The second group said they enjoyed the film just asmuch as the first group. Surprisingly, these reactions werethe same for both males and females. Sparks says, "Hollywoodmay make a mistake in assuming that violence is needed toattract the males."
Sparks is analyzing data about the relationship between theamount of violence and box office gross. So far, he's foundthat violent content is unrelated to the amount of money afilm takes in at the box office.
One reason Hollywood uses so much violence is that it helpsto sell films abroad. "Films have to make a certain amountof money," Sparks says. "And violence is easily understoodbecause it crosses languages and cultures."
Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk
Maybe it all comes down to thecopycateffect.
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