Influence of the Media on Violence

March 21, 2005

Q. When asked in the past how the violence in films influences violence in life, Michael's response was, basically, that it's a reflection of the culture. What aspects of the media aren't just a reflection of culture but actually influence culture? People are choosing to talk about Michael Jackson rather than drilling in Alaska or Medicare. What aspects really do influence culture?

A. The media, by which we take in all entertainment, all forms of news, all forms of sports and games, including computer games, and all manner of archetypal processing: these factors combine to create paradigms that are considerably more ephemeral than most ongoing mythic paradigms, but which address either current apprehensions or current ideals. This is particularly true in such ubiquitous forms as television and computer games, and these archetypal figures, based as they are upon immediate social and cultural pressures, tend to be heavily bound to the Zeitgeist. Because of this very specific time-related period of validity, these media concerns do indeed respond to cultural influences and create those of their own, in that they reflect brief interpretations of far more enduring and complex cultural archetypes.

As to the conflict between entertainment and news, the two in fact do considerably overlap and always have, and in general, most fragments prefer news that is titillating without being threatening, that reinforces social values, and does not in fact require any considerable investment of time or energy from the fragment as a condition of being provided the news or entertainment. This is not necessarily as much the case with Mature or Old Souls, but of course such groups are in the minority, at least in this country.

Let us point out that in instances such as but not limited to the Sage's [Michael Jackson's] scandal, this allows for shock and distress as well as the gleeful fall from greatness brought about by personal lapses, which tends to reiterate the Puritan view of perfection or nothing. In this case, this is complicated by the fact that most fragments in this and almost any other culture tend to be totally devastated in the face of the sexual abuse of children, and by being shocked by this particular Sage, they are in a position to "blame it on celebrity" rather than on emotional problems that cannot at this point be "corrected", as is usually the case in sexual compulsions of any kind.

But we would again wish to point out, as we have before, that the Puritan paradigm of perfectible humanity plays a role in the deliciousness of scandal, and also creates a climate that when trouble cannot be corrected, most fragments would prefer to avoid dealing with it at all than to face the possibility of failure to do so, which is also "a fall from grace".