When most people are asked, “does TV make you fat?” the majority will scoff at this idea – and I was no exception. It seems utterly absurd that by sitting in front of the televsion it somehow magically expands your waistline. This is the theory of causality – one thing (in this instance, televsion) causes another thing to occur (people becoming fat). Whilst most people can accept this theory, others – such as David Gauntlett – digress:
“the connections between people’s consumption of the mass media and their subsequent behaviour have remained persistently elusive..”
Gauntlett later states:“The’media effects’ approach..comes at the problem backwards, by starting with the media and then trying to lasso connections from there on to social beings, rather than the other way around.” This grahic of obesity in America supports his statement that the media is constantly being blamed when in actual fact 60% of people who were surveyed said it was too much in-home entertainment that led to their obesity and 84% saying that it was eating too much fast food. This leads onto the question of does watching violent media, make you a violent person and do violent things?
The horrific case of James Bulger is a true testament to Gauntlett’s belief of the backwards approach of the media effects model. In 1993, a 2 year old boy was abducted, brutally beaten and subsequently killed. His killers were two ten year old boys. In court, the judge stated, “violent films, possibly Child’s Play 3” had “striking similarities to the manner of the attack on James Bulger…” The media went into a frenzy, blaming violent videos and games saying that it led young children to re-enact scenarios that they had seen in various forms of media. However, further investigation into the lives of the two young killers exposed dysfunctional families where violence and neglect were common.
So, I leave you with this: is it really the media’s fault, or are we simply passing the blame to the left hand side?