One of the factors promoting imitation is the current tendency associated with the desire of the authors of a media text to make violence aesthetically attractive, “glamorous”ť. For example, attractive actors are invited for the roles of gangsters and their girlfriends, the “bad guys”ť enjoy the sweet life in the casino, restaurants, luxury spas, etc. In such plots criminals are often depicted as normal and even nice people who do well their job for good money, they know what the real friendship and love is, and their “job”ť is shown as norm that has an equal right for existing, and even more attractive or promising certain privileges (Krcmar and Vieira 273). Another, opposite but still dangerous, example of the aestheticized violence are superheroes, often becoming role models for youth (Krcmar and Vieira 275). The typical scenario of using violence for a righteous cause may be retranslated in the daily life as a justification for using violence to retaliate against perceived victimizers. Vulnerable youth who have been victimized may be tempted to use violent means to resolve problems.
Moreover, in the course of a comprehensive study of TV programs in the U.S. it was found that three-quarters of violent characters remain unpunished; about half of violence scenes do not show wounds or suffering of the victim; only one-sixth of them represent examples of long-term abuse of emotional or economic nature, and only a very a small part of TV programs (4%) critically approached the displayed violence or suggested possible non-violent solutions to problems (Olson 146). Basta’s (227) content-analysis showed that in 55% of cases the on-screen aggression was not even disapproved.
Observation of violence scenes also reduces sensitivity to cruelty. Desensitization of aggression is a loss of emotional sensitivity to the acts of violence, which is closely associated with the reduction of empathy, i.e., the ability to empathize with the victim, and now there is every reason to believe that repeated observation of violence makes the observer indifferent to acts of violence in the future, making one perceive them as the facts of life (Anderson et al. 85-86). Thus, the experiments of Ronald Drabman and Margaret Thomas (cited in Freedman 141-42) recorded the participants’ changes in the emotional state (through galvanic skin response) while watching a video or television programs with violence, or an exciting volleyball championship. It was found that both records equally cause emotional lift. Then, during the second phase of the study, the participants observed the real situation that looked like a clear confrontation threatening with physical violence to the participants. As the researchers expected, those subjects who watched a TV program with the elements of violence responded to aggression less emotionally than others. Obviously, watching television programs showing violence made these participants less susceptible to cases of violence in the real life.
Currently, many studies have shown cause-effect connection between media violence and child aggression. Violent media can cause harm to children, because the excessive consumption of audio-visual information filed with a realistic scenes of cruelty may: distort the reality perception; suggest that violence is an acceptable way of resolving social conflicts; provide a role model for applying violence in real life; make children indifferent to human sufferings; as well as cause fears of becoming a victim of violence.
Constant and frequent viewing of aestheticized media violence affects the attitude of children towards violence as such, contributing to their emotional induration and sometimes – their own aggressive and even criminal behavior in the future.
Agreeing with Gerbner (134), we should mark that despite the common assertion that the public finally gets what it wants, media violence is not a result of viewer’s selection, and therefore its provision to children, as well as their consumption of media violence should be strictly dozed and controlled by both state authorities’ measures and family regulations