Back in the first half of the 20th century, Television and media outlets were very limited with language and visuals that were considered “racy”. The FCC had many laws implemented that included “Crime and immorality may never be portrayed in a positive light. If someone commits an immoral act they must be punished on screen” and no nudity or sex was ever allowed on screen. These laws were called the Hays Code and were used from the early 1930′s up until the late 1950′s when Television really began to pick up. Even after the Hays Code, people were weary of what was shown on television and in films in fear that it will corrupt children and citizens.
Today, the first amendment has really been pushed to its limits. Television and film have pretty much covered every corner of the reality of this dark world we live in. From Law and Order: SVU where women and children are being raped, strangled, killed and beaten in each episode and all of it is shown in gruesome detail to the audience. Although the show is developed around the detectives who in the end “catch the bad guys” it still is extremely graphic.
There are shows about serial killers, such as Dexter, that portrays the main character (Dexter) who is a serial killer as a “good serial killer” or a “vigilante”. This type of portrayal is giving viewers the idea that they can do what Dexter is doing. This particular show is on Showtime, a subscriber based channel that doesn’t have to follow any restriction from the FCC. Therefore, there are no limits to how graphic and gruesome this show can be. Dexter makes it seem that being a serial killer is gratifying. The “kill rooms” Dexter sets up for each of his victims are so elaborate it almost seems like to a viewer this could be fun or an exhilarating experience.
New shows that just started such as “The Following” on FX and “Hannibal” on NBC are other examples of how popular these shows are becoming. The plot of “Hannibal” is about a man who is conflicted because he actually sympathizes with serial killers. The first episode revolves around a case of missing college girls who were most likely raped and killed. The first two episodes already have over 4 Million viewers. ”The Following” is about a Hannibal Lector type serial killer who inspires followers to idolize him.
These are the types of shows consumers want to see. Shows like Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and more that every episode includes guns and drugs and other violence that our young generations are watching. Not only are these shows graphic, but they make these types of lifestyles seem normal.
We wonder why there is so much youth violence in the U.S. Anyone is capable of realizing that the media is somewhat glorifying these mass murders that we have had so much of in the past decade. Television shows are constantly teaching younger generations about murder, rape, and gun violence. According to Leonard Eron of The University of Michigan, 10% of youth violence is from television alone.
How much is too much?
I do feel slightly hypocritical because all of these shows I mention I do watch and are some of my favorite shows. The mass majority of people will not destroy and kill and rape, who watch these shows. But violence is rising in America and I do believe that the media and television have a great amount to do with it.