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you will pick a one-hour drama series episode (preferably one that aired within the last 10 years), and apply your learning to

what you observed in the episodes in 2-3 pages. Please read the instructions in the file attached all instructions are there

Media Literacy
Reflection Paper #1
By this point, you have developed a firm understanding of audience and producing decisions
when it comes to creating a television show. For this paper, you will pick a one-hour drama
series episode (preferably one that aired within the last 10 years), and apply your learning to
what you observed in the episodes.
Some of the key topics you may want to apply to your analysis include:


Media content and reality
o Multiple dimensions of reality
o Audience perspective
o Programmer’s perspective
Entertainment and media
o Genre
o Challenges to producers
o Character patterns
â–ª Demographic patterns
â–ª Stereotypical portrayals
o Controversial content elements
You may choose to add any other research you feel so necessary to convey your thoughts,
however, remember to properly cite your sources. It would be wise to use some elements of
the article from class as some scholarly sources to support your argument. *hint*
DO NOT GIVE A SUMMARY OF THE EPISODES!! This assignment is to see how well you can take
some of themes of media literacy and apply the knowledge to consumed media.
You will be graded on your content analysis and overall application of themes and ideas
discussed in class. You will also be graded on grammar, syntax and use of language.
The final paper is expected to be 2-4 pages, though you may submit more if you have
developed strong enough arguments for your case.
Final grading will be done as outlined in the syllabus.
Due to the Dropbox by posted date.
American Academy of Political and Social Science
Cultural Indicators: The Case of Violence in Television Drama
Author(s): George Gerbner
Source: The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 388,
Political Intelligence for America’s Future (Mar., 1970), pp. 69-81
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. in association with the American Academy of
Political and Social Science
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/1038317
Accessed: 07-04-2020 17:38 UTC
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American Academy of Political and Social Science, Sage Publications, Inc. are
collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Annals of the
American Academy of Political and Social Science
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Cultural Indicators: The Case of Violence in
Television Drama
By GEORGE GERBNER
ABSTRACT: The cultural transformation of our time stems
from the extension of the industrial-technological revolution
into the sphere of message-production. The mass production
and rapid distribution of messages create new symbolic environ-
ments that reflect the structure and functions of the institutions
that transmit them. These institutional processes of the mass-
production messages short-circuit other networks of social
communication and superimpose their own forms of collective
consciousness-their own publics-upon other social relation-
ships. The consequences for the quality of life, for the cultivation of human tendencies and outlooks, and for the governing of
societies, are far-reaching. Informed policy-making and the
valid interpretation of social behavior require systematic indicators of the prevailing climate of the changing symbolic environment. A central aspect of cultural indicators would be the
periodic analysis of trends in the composition and structure of
message systems cultivating conceptions of life relevant to so-
cialization and public policy. Findings of studies of the portrayal of violence in network television drama illustrate the
terms of such analysis, and demonstrate the need for more
comprehensive, cumulative, and comparative information on
mass-cultural trends and configurations.
George Gerbner, Ph.D., is Professor of Communications and Dean of the Annenberg
School of Communications, University of Pennsylvania. He has been principal investigator on international communication research projects sponsored by the United States
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; UNESCO; the International Sociological
Association; and the National Science Foundation. Recently, he directed the study of
violence in television drama for the National Commission on Causes and Prevention of
Violence, and he is now continuing that research for the Scientific Advisory Panel of the
Surgeon General.
69
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70 THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY
T HE Nation has no comprehensive
set of statistics reflecting social
progress or retrogression,” begins the
recent Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) report to the
President.1 The report recommended a
procedure for the periodic stock-taking
of the social health of the nation. Steps
in that direction include pending legislation and the growing literature on social
and political accounting; the recent
are made with as little reliable, systematic, cumulative, and comparative infor-
mation about the actual state of affairs
as in the sphere of the mass production
of the common culture. Confused by
our own rhetoric of some automatic
mechanisms at work in some mythica
marketplace of ideas, we are only
vaguely aware of the fact that decisive
policy-making is going on, and that
cultural politics is as much a part of the
White House order setting up a Na- fabric of modern life as economic, wel-
tional Goals Research Staff, charged, fare, or military politics.3 Debates
among other things, with “developing about “censorship” obscure the realities
and monitoring social indicators that can of direction, constraints, and controls in
reflect the present and future quality of the mass production of messages. ApAmerican life, and the direction and rate plication of formal aesthetic categories
of its change”; and this issue of THE
ANNALS itself.
derived from other times and places
ignore functions, resources, and power at
My purpose is to develop and illus- the heart of the cultural process.
trate a framework for cultural indicators
We know next to nothing about trends
as one aspect of social accounting.
in the composition and structure of
Cultural indicators have been alluded to, mass-produced message systems that
but have not yet been articulated in govern men’s lives and inform men’s
policy statements, legislative proposals,minds in urbanized societies. We know
or the research literature. I would first
little more about the institutional proclike to outline the case for indicators of
esses that compose and structure those
the mass-produced symbolic environ-message systems. Consequently, much
ment that I call the common culture.
of our high-powered research on how
Then I shall describe a central aspect of
people respond and behave in specific
the framework for such indicators, and
situations is unenlightened by insight
illustrate the framework with our
into the common cultural context in
study of television violence 2 and related
which and to which they respond.
research.
Historically, we are dealing with a still
galloping industrial revolution in methods of producing and distributing mesTHE CASE FOR CULTURAL INDICATORS
sages. The rise of mass communication
There is no area of significant social is a profound change in the management
policy in which far-reaching decisions of information, and in the creation of
the common symbolic environment that
1 U.S., Department of Health, Education
and Welfare, Toward a Social Report (Washgives public direction and meaning to
ington, D.C.: Government Printing Office,
3Governments, Presidents, and, more re1969) p. xi.
cently, a Vice-President, usually call attention
2 George Gerbner, Martin Brouwer, Cedric
C. Clark and Klaus Krippendorff, “Dimento this fact when a deep split in economic-
sions of Violence in Television Drama,” The
military-communications policy-making threat-
Annenberg School of Communications, Uni- ens their ability to cultivate mass support, or
versity of Pennsylvania, 1969 (hereinafter re- at least acquiescence. Any campaign to mobiferred to as the “television violence study”). lize a “silent majority” of the “forgotten man”
However, some findings are presented in thisis an attempt to force the media to publicize
views that such a campaign expects to elicit.
paper for the first time.
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CULTURAL INDICATORS: VIOLENCE IN TELEVISION DRAMA 71
human activity. The purpose of a
of messages organized, controlled, and
managed? What institutional and techtor those aspects of our system of gen-nological functions and what organizaerating bodies of broadly shared mes-tional decision-making processes govern
the production and distribution of these
sages that are most amenable-and
most relevant-to public policy deci- message systems? What common as-
scheme of cultural indicators is to moni-
sions, and to take the pulse and measure sumptions do message systems cultivate
the tempo of their transformations.
over and above those apparent in single
Selective habits of participation limit or selected messages or individual and
each of us to risky and usually faultyselective responses? And, finally, how
extrapolation about the cultural experi- does the cultivation of these collective
ence of different or heterogeneous com-assumptions shape the conduct of public
munities. The reliable observation of
affairs (and, of course, vice versa)?
The
regularities in large message systems
isquestions designate three areas of
analysis. Study of the composition and
a specialized enterprise that requires
structure of large bodies of mass-medinot only methodological sophistication,
ated messages is the analysis of message
but also a clear conception of dimensions
of analysis and of relevance to investisystems. Study of the organizational
forms, functions, and decision-making
gative purpose. What I have called
elsewhere the institutional approach
that to
compose and structure these systems
is what I called institutional process
analysis in mass communications. And
basis of such an enterprise. It is the
study of the relationships between instistudy of technologically mediated message systems and processes as historitutional processes, message systems, and
mass communications research 4 is the
cally new ways of looking at life, as new
the public assumptions, images, and
policies that they cultivate is what we
forms of institutionalized public acculturation, and the broadest commonmay call cultivation analysis.
bases of social interaction and policy- Social research into the “behavioral
formation in modern societies. Such
effects” of communications might be
study revolves around problems of messeen as having concentrated on the last
sage system theory and analysis, instiarea of studies. Yet, the area of cultivatutional process analysis, and the investition analysis is perhaps the least developed. The reason is that most “effects”
gation of relationships between message
systems, corporate forms and functions,
research stemmed from theoretical perspectives that did not consider relevance
collective image-formation, and public
policy. It asks these questions:
to the mass-cultural process a principal
What perspectives and relationships
criterion. From the point of view of
are expressed in message systems cultural
proindicators, therefore, such research will be inadequate to the task unduced for large and diverse communities? How do these systems vary over
til institutional process and messagesystem analysis can provide the necestime, across cultures, and in different
societies? How do media compose sary
and framework of common terms and
relevant dimensions to be investistructure these message systems? the
How
gated.
is the mass-production and distribution
Institutional process-analysis has a
4George Gerbner, “An Institutional Ap-research base in organization theory and
proach to Mass Communications Research,” in
Lee Thayer ed., Communication: Theory andstudies of management policy-formation.
It is a more focused and limited area of
Research (Springfield, Ill.: Charles C. Thomas,
1966).
study. But research on the policy proc.
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72 THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY
ess in mass communications is scarce.5
action through such symbols is the “huMore importantly, such research cannot
manizing” process of our species. That
serve the purposes of cultural indicators
process creates the symbolic environ-
until media policies can be related ment
not from which behavior derives its
only to theories of organization and
distinctively human significance. It also
cultivates man’s notions of the facts and
decision-making, but also to specific
characteristics of message systems potentials
that
of existence, his orders of prithey shape.
orities and ranges of values, and the
The analysis of message systemsclusters
is,
of associations among all these
then, the starting point of research leaddimensions of imagery and imagination.
ing to cultural indicators. It is the step
The terms of our analysis stem from
that must be taken before the studyand
of relate to the dimensions of common
the institutional-policy and public-culticonsciousness that mass-produced mesvation processes can proceed on coherent
sage systems cultivate in large and
terms. The central dimensions of culheterogeneous publics. We have identi-
tural analysis stem, not from intentions
fied these dimensions as message-medi-
or policies or individual cognitions, but
ated assumptions about existence, prifrom the actually shared messages that
orities, values, and relationships. Table
mediate public perspectives and provide
1 summarizes the questions, terms, and
such common bases for social interacmeasures of analysis relevant to each
tion (both dissent and consensus) dimension.
as
shape the course of public events.
The dimension of assumptions about
existence deals with the question “What
MESSAGE SYSTEM ANALYSIS
is?,” that is, what is available (re-
The analysis of message systems rests ferred to) in public message systems at
on the conception of the role of com-all, how frequently, and in what propor-
munication in human life. Communica-
tions. The availability of shared mestion is interaction through messages.
sages defines the scope of public attenMessages are specialized events (or astion. The measure of attention, there-
pects of events) that signify other things
fore, indicates the presence, prevalence,
in enormously varied and creative ways
rate, complexity, and varying distribuunique to human culture.6 Social intertions of items, topics, themes, and the
like, represented in message systems.
5 Some illustrations and the beginnings of a
scheme for process analysis are contained The
in dimension of priorities raises the
question “What is important?” We may
George Gerbner, “Institutional Pressures upon
Mass Communicators,” in Paul Halmos, ed.,
use measures of emphasis to study the
The Sociology of Mass-Media Communicators,context of relative prominence and the
Sociological Review Monographs, no. 13 (University of Keele, England, 1969), pp. 205-248.order or degrees of centrality or impor-
6An earlier development of this definition tance. Measures of attention and emand its implications may be found in George phasis may be combined to indicate, not
Gerbner, “On Content Analysis and Critical
only the allocation, but also the channelResearch in Mass Communication,” 6 AV
ing attention in a message system.
Communication Review (Spring 1958), pp. 85108, reprinted in Lewis A. Dexter and DavidThe dimensions of values inquires
M. White, People, Society and Mass Communications (New York: Free Press, 1969),
Mediated Public Message Systems,” in George
pp. 476-501. The present discussion of mes- Gerbner, Ole R. Holsti, Klaus Krippendorff,
sage system analysis is a further developmentWilliam J. Paisley and Philip J. Stone, The
of ideas presented in George Gerbner, “Toward
Analysis of Communication Content (New
‘Cultural Indicators’: The Analysis of MassYork: Wiley & Sons, 1969), pp. 122-132.
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CULTURAL INDICATORS: VIOLENCE IN TELEVISION DRAMA 73
TABLE I-DIMENSIONS, QUESTIONS, TERMS, AND MEASURES OF
MESSAGE SYSTEM ANALYSIS
DIMENsloNS EXISTENCE PRTORITIES VALUES RELATIONSHIPS
Assumptions WHAT IS? WHAT IS WHAT IS WHAT IS
about: IMPORTANT? RIGHT OR RELATED TO
WRONG, GOOD WHAT, AND
OR BAD, ETC.? HOW?
Questions: What is available In what context or In what light, In what over-all
for public atten- order of import- from what point proximal, logical, or
tion? How much ance? of view, with causal structure?
and how fre- what associated
quently? judgments?
Terms and ATTENTION EMPHASIS TENDENCY STRUCTURE
measures of Prevalence, rate, Ordering, ranking, Measures of
analysis: complexity, varia- scaling for promi- cal and differe
tions nence, centrality, tendency; qualities, action
or intensity traits
into assumptions about right and wrong,
good and bad, and other associatedMeasures
qual- of attention
ities. It asks about the point of view
A mass-produced message system is
from which things are presented,the
about
result of institutional processes sethe characteristics, traits, or connotalecting some things to be brought to pub-
tions attached to different items of ref-
lic attention and ignoring or rejecting
erence and emphasis. Measures of ten-others. Measures of attention indicate
dency are used to assess the directionthe presence and distribution of suband intensity of value judgments ob- jects, topics, themes, and the like, seserved in messages.
lected to compose the system. Knowing
The dimension of relationships focuses something about the distribution of aton the more complex associations within tention over time and across cultures is
and among all measures. When we dealan elementary measure of the most comwith patterns of attention, emphasis, or monly available fund of raw materials
tendency, instead of only simple distri- out of which each age and place weaves
butions, or when we relate the clustering its own patterns of public imagination
of measures to one another, we illumi-and imagery.
nate the underlying structure of assump- Focusing on an issue such as violence,
tions about existence, priorities, and val-we can ask how prevalent its representaues represented in message systems.
tion is; what rate per natural contextThe four dimensions, then, yield mea- unit, for example, story or play, it ocsures of attention, emphasis, tendency,curs; and how its frequency varies by
and structure. I shall illustrate some of
different categories of analysis within
systems and across systems.
the terms of each measure with findings
of research on mass media violence, and The evidence, of course, is scattered,
suggest how such research might be de-fragmentary, and rarely comparable. In
veloped to serve the tasks of indicators
one of the first studies, Edgar Dale
of the role of cultural production infound that “crime” prevailed in 84 perimage-cultivation and policy-formation. cent of the movies of the early 1930’s,
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74 THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY
(an average of 3.9 per picture),
* Violence
and stuns, maims, and kills
without
much visible “hurt.”
violent death in 39 percent.’ Our
own
research noted violence in 66 percent
of was difficult to detect,
Suffering
some three thousand Hollywoodmaking
moviesviolence appear painless,
produced between 1950 and 1961.8
despite the “body count” of
Studies of television drama in the
about 400 casualties per week or
early 1950’s found that “in over threean average of five per violent
play.
quarters of the plays, acts of violence,
crime, or aggression occurred,”‘9 *
that
When witnesses appear on a
violent acts “predominated” in 56 perscene of violence, they are passive
cent or 3.7 per play,10 and that thein seven out of ten such episodes.
hourly rate doubled between 1952 and
When they are not passive, they
1954.11
are as likely to assist or encourOur television violence study analyzed
age as to try to prevent violence.
plays, cartoons, and feature films tele* The “generation gap” looms with
cast nationally during study periods repa vengeance. One young adult
resentative of 1967 and 1968 network
gets killed for every five young
programming. The study found violence killers. One middle-aged charportrayed in eight out of every ten plays acter gets killed for every two
for both years. The rate of violent epi- middle-aged killers. Old people
sodes was 5.0 per play in 1967 and 4.5 rarely appear in television plays
in 1968. An average dramatic program (6 percent of all characters), and
hour had seven, and a cartoon hour, even more seldom kill (2 percent
twenty-two, violent episodes. Half of all of all killers); but two old men
leading characters committed, and sixwere killed for one who was a
out of ten suffered, some violence. One killer. To look at only killers
in ten became a killer. One in twenty and their fate; one young killer
was killed.
out of fourteen is himself the
Variations by other categories begin fatal victim of violence; one midto form patterns of life manifest in the dle-aged killer out of five gets
world of television drama. The followkilled; the old man who kills is
ing highlights from the findings of our
killed in return.
1967-1968 television violence study
* Social class, too, makes a differcome from measures of attention across
ence. Half of all upper- and
such variables as personal and demomiddle-class characters, but
three-quarters of lower-class chargraphic aspects, social environment,
acters, commit violence. Six out
place, and time.
7 Edgar Dale, The Content of Motion Pic- of ten upper- and middle-class
tures (New York: The Macmillan Company, characters, but nine out of ten
1935), pp. 133-134.
8 Unpublished research data.
lower-class characters, fall victim
to violence. Almost one-third of
9 Sidney W. Head, “Television and Social upper- and middle-class characNorms: An Analysis of the Social Content
of Television Drama” (PhD. dissertation, New
York University, 1953), p. 2.
10oSidney W. Head, “Content Analysis of
Television Programs,” 9 Quarterly of Film,
Radio, and Television, 1954, pp. 184-185.
11 H. H. Remmers, Four Years of New York
Television (Urbana, Ill.: National Association
of Educational Broadcasters, 1954), pp. 37-38.
ters escape both violence and
victimization; none of the lowerclass characters does. When it
comes to fatal violence, upperclass killers number 11 percent,
middle-class killers, 12 percent,
and lower-class killers, 16 percent
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CULTURAL INDICATORS: VIOLENCE IN TELEVISION DRAMA 75
of all characters in their class.
Middle-class killers outnumber
Violence was involved in three-
middle-class killed 3 to 1, but for
every upper- and lower-class killer, there is an upper- and lower-
porary or domestic setting. But
it was featured in 98 percent of
fourths of all plays in a contem-
plays set in the past, every single
play set in the future, and 92
class character killed.
* Ethnic and race distinctions are
percent of all plays depicting for-
related and equally striking.
eign lands or people. To look at
The violents comprise half of all
it another way, the past was nine
times as likely to be depicted
white American characters, six
when there was some violence
than when there was none. The
out of every ten white foreigners,
and two-thirds of all nonwhites.
future was always violent. The
The same groups suffer from vio-
outside world was three times as
lence in the same order, with
likely to be violent as nonviolent. And, as we have seen, the
violence extracts a higher price-
nearly six out of ten whites, but
eight out of ten nonwhites falling
victim to some violence. Both
inflicting and suffering violence
themselves were 39 percent of
white Americans, 46 percent of
white non-Americans, and 60 per-
a tooth for a tooth-from its
predominantly violent strangers
than it does from its violent native whites.
cent of nonwhites. Escaping
Crude as they are, these patterns begin
to lay bare some assumptions cultiwere 35 percent of white Amerivated
in these message systems. They
cans, 32 percent of white nonalso
begin
to give substance to the conAmericans, and only 13 percent
tention that without a more specific
of nonwhites. However, the
knowledge of these assumptions about
proportion of killers was one out
both violence and victimization
of every five white foreigners, one
out of every eight white Americans, and one out of every fifteen
nonwhites. There seems to be
the role of violence, research on “effects”
may be shallow and misdirected.
Measures of emphasis
something like “violent effi- “Emphasis” is that aspect of the
composition of message systems which
ciency” at work here, too: one-
establishes a context of priorities of imthird of all violent foreign whites
and nearly one-fourth of all vio-portance or relevance. The distribution
of emphases sets up a field of differential
lent white Americans, but only
appeal in which certain things stand out.
one-tenth of all violent nonwhites,
Emphasis orders the agenda of public
succeed in killing an opponent.
conceptions and discourse cultivated in
The pattern of fatal victimization
also shows that while white
message systems. Measures of emphaAmerican killers outnumbered
sis may be based on indications of size,
killed 4 to 1, and white foreigners intensity, or stress, or on the featuring
3 to 2, for every nonwhite killer of certain topics or themes as the major
there was a nonwhite killed.
points of stories, and are usually ex* Time and place also affect the pressed in ranks or ratios.
Measures of emphasis are most useful
patterns of violence and justice
implicit in the way things work when it is necessary to examine orders
out in the world of television.
of priority channeling or even command-
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76 THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY
The broadest
over-all dimension of
ing attention independently of terms
of
prevalence and rate of messages
availjudgment
is a summary evaluation of the
able for attention. For example,
in an
goodness
or badness, rightness or wronginternational study,12 we foundness,
thatofthe
things. A measure of the favorratios of films in which violence was
able-unfavorable associations expressed
“essential to the plot” to those in whichin message systems may be called “criti-
violence was “secondary” was higher in
cal tendency.” It is based primarily on
Polish films (2.5) than in United States
whether a subject or topic appears in a
films (1.3), despite the fact that the supportive or critical context. But value
prevalence of violent portrayals was
judgment is, of course, multidimensional.
higher in the United States films. Yugo-Measures of “differential tendency” can
slav films with a very high, and Czechobe used which indicate directionality of
slovak films with a very low, prevalencejudgment in many different dimensions.
of violence both yielded the lowest em- In fiction and drama, tendency may
phasis ratios of six countries (0.8).
be implicit in justifications for action,
Some evidence of trends in emphasis
consequences of action, and the characover time comes from television studies. terization of persons assigned different
The 1952 television research found vio-
roles and fates. The international film
lent acts “predominating” in 56 percent
study cited above found that principal
characters in all countries’ films resorted
of plays analyzed.1″ Our 1967-1968
study found violence integral to the plot to violence for defense, protection, and
(essential for a brief plot description) other sanctioned or legal ends from over
in 66 percent of the plays in 1967 and two to more than four times as fre56 percent in 1968. However, when
quently as for illegal or immoral ends.
television drama portrayed violence, it But illegal and immoral reasons for vioemphasized it as an essential plot ele- lence were portrayed twice or more as
ment in from seven to eight out of frequently in the West as in Eastern
every ten plays in both the early 1950’s Europe. The ratio of the tendency to
and the late 1960’s.
commit “socially sanctioned” violence
Measures of tendency
versus antisocial violence was 2.5 in
French films, 2.6 in United States films,
The position of an institution (or an3.5 in Italian films, 3.8 in Czechoslovak
individual) in time and space, and in
films, 4.1 in Yugoslav films, and 4.4 in
the over-all structure of social relaPolish films. (The higher the ratio, the
tions, enters into the approach, point of
lower the proportion of antisocial vioview, or direction from which that instilence.)
tution or individual presents aspects of
The 1967-1968 television study traced
existence. The investigation of “tenthe tendency to present violence as seridency” deals with the explicit or conous, or as slapstick or “just for fun.”
textual value judgments and other qualiFour-fifths of all violent episodes (inties that such vantage points impart cluding
to
comedy) were judged “serious.”
message systems.
The proportion of “serious” episodes de-
clined from 87 percent of all violent
12 Based on research data for Georgescenes in 1967 to 74 percent in 1968.
Gerbner, “The Film Hero: A Cross-Cultural
The more complex judgments inherent
Study,” University of Minnesota Journalism
in the world of dramatic violence can
Monographs, no. 13 (Minneapolis: University
be illuminated by combining dimensions
of Minnesota, 1969).
:s Head, “Television and Social Norms.” again to weave fuller patterns of life.
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CULTURAL INDICATORS: VIOLENCE IN TELEVISION DRAMA 77
Measures of structure
those who commit no violence, on scales
found to be reliably used by analysts
Systematic measurement of patterns
on the television violence study. Aside
of relationships requires the analysis
of the sex difference which results, in
from
correlations or clusters among measures.
part, from the larger proportion of
Such methods depend on the developwomen among nonviolents, the traits
ment of sophisticated and flexible comthat distinguish nonviolents from vioputer programs that can reveal complex
lents and killers are “usualness,” effiinterrelations of different types of ciency,
data. attractiveness, emotionality, and
I am limited to the few relatively simple
logic. Nonviolents are more usual, less
examples available to illustrate someefficient,
posmore emotional, and less logical
than
violents. Killers are the most effisibilities. These examples, from
the
1967-1968 television violence study,
cient and the least emotional. (We shall
involve certain aspects of purpose, charcome to “attractiveness” later.)
acterization, role, and fate.
Now let us see how a happy fate-practically identical with virtue- affects
* Most violence is interpersonal
the portrayals. Figure 2 compares vioand at close range, but relatively
lents and nonviolents by fate. The
impersonal. Strangers assault
each other for reasons of private
gain, power, or duty. In a world
of specialized relationships, violence is one more specialty that
rarely involves intimates and seldom stems from great emotion
or from fighting for a noble cause.
greatest difference, aside from violence
itself, is that the “happies” are attractive whether violent or not. The “un-
happies” are repulsive when violent.
Violence does not mar, nor nonviolence improve, the attraction of the
happy hero. But violence does appear
to have logic on its side. And the key
to violent happiness is efficiency. Let
* Happy are the good guys and
unhappy the bad (at least in the
us take a closer look.
end). Good guys initiate as
Attractive characters reach a happy
much violence as bad guys, but
end, (or vice versa) whether violent or
hurt less and kill less. Good guys
not. Attractive, happy, and violent
suffer more from violence, but
characters are also the most logical, but
heroes never die. Bad guys get
the repulsive, unhappy, violent charachurt less than good guys, but, of
ters are nearly equally logical. Thus, all
course, they lose out in the end.
violents are more logical than all non* Half of all killers are good guys
violents. Nonviolents-whether happy
who reach a happy end in the
or
unhappy-are more emotional and instories.
tuitive than violents. Unhappy nonviolents are also more irrational. Cool
If virtue suffers more than evil, the
logic is all on the side of violence.
ultimately happy hero must be more
decisive and efficient to triumph in the Violence with a happy ending, further-
end. “Personality-differential” scales
more, is a matter of efficiency. Su-
used to measure the intensity of selected
perior efficiency separates happy viocharacter traits support that inference,
lents from all others. Efficient, cool
and add more dimensions to the struclogic is the unbeatable combination that
ture of judgments.
makes for the happy violent hero.
Figure 1 charts the mean scores of allCharacters can remain happy and lack
violent characters, all killers, and allefficiency only if nonviolent. Violent
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78 THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY
the quality
they must possess to win,
heroes must be efficient to in
win,
while
than all violent heroes: effinonviolent heroes may, andeven
allmore
villains
(a little older than the rest), ciency.
must bunUnhappy killers and all victims presgle the job.
Further confirmation comes from a
ent, by comparison, an image of repulsive bunglers. The victims of fatal viocomparison of happy and unhappy killence, half of them killers but some of
lers, and their, naturally, unhappy victhem innocents themselves, are also the
tims. (See Figure 3.) Unhappy killers
oldest and least masculine. Otherwise
and killed present similar profiles bethey are almost as repulsive and buncause their numbers overlap; half of the
unhappy killers are themselves killed. gling as are those of their killers who
The happy killers stand out in manli-come to an unhappy end.
ness and attractiveness; they are heroes. Cool efficiency, and, to a lesser extent,
manliness and youth, appear to be the
The happy killers are “first among
equals” in rational and unemotional chief correlates of success and virtue in
logic, for they, too, are killers. But the a fairly impersonal, self-seeking, and
happy killers are the most distinguished specialized structure of violent action.
FIGURE 1-PERSONALITY PROFILES OF CHARACTERS BY VIOLENCE-RELATED ROLES
IN TELEVISION DRAMA
1
2
3
4
5
OLD
Y
_
6
7
OUNG
MASCULINE . .. .. FEMININE
USUAL . … … ._ UNUSUAL
BUNGLING – E . . EFFICIENT
REPULSIVE
ATTRACTIVE
EMOTIONAL -lotUNEMOTIONAL
INTUITIVE
IRRATIONAL
VIOLENT

.
LOGICAL
RATIONAL
—-
NONVIOLENT
S VIOLENTS (N -240)
I” KILLERS(N-53)
,, ma ,,, NONVIOLENTS(N -215)
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CULTURAL INDICATORS: VIOLENCE IN TELEVISION DRAMA 79
FIGURE 2-PERSONALITY PROFILES OF CHARACTERS BY FINAL OUTCOME
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
OL __ D . YOUNG
MASCULINE
USUAL
BUNGLING

FEMININE
UNUSUAL
_____-
REPULSIVE
EMOTIONAL
.EFFICIENT
ATTRACTIVE
UNEMOTIONAL

INTUITIVE

IRRATIONAL
LOGICAL
RATIONAL
VIOLENT
VIOLENTS

i

__
FINAL.
VIOLENTS-FINAL
O
OU
,,nB,,-,NONVIOLENTS
– – – — -NONVIOLENTS-FINAL OUTCOME: UNHAPPY (N -28)
There is a need for more sensitive and
not a single or simple dimension of becomprehensive indicators of the struc- havior. Much of it is not a problem of
ture of assumptions cultivated in pub- behavior at all, in the sense of violent
lic-message systems than we have yet motion. It is equally a question of pubbeen able to develop. What should they lic assumptions about the role of force
encompass? What will they show? I and the distribution of justice; it is also
would like to conclude with some sug- a problem of shared expectations of the
gestions about the potentials and limita- kinds and effects of violence that “we”
tions of such development.
expect from different types of “others.”
Violence involves resistance to or acquiPOTENTIALS AND LIMITATIONS
escence in its private and public uses;
support for or opposition to policies re-
Understanding the structure of culti- lated to its use; and other responses to
vation is especially necessary when the its distant, as well as to its nearby,
focus of attention is a complex issue of manifestations.
life or policy. Violence, for example, is These are culturally learned assump-
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80 THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY
uniquely human
capacity of our species,
tions and expectations. Indicators
of
to interact and even collide
public-message systems givethe
uscapacity
a basis
creatively
through symbols and mesfor judging the role of cultural
production in their cultivation. Such indicators
sages. Symbolic representation of viocan also help place cultural policy in lence is, therefore, a vital function of
information and art in their illumination
perspective. “How much violence
of its real-life manifestations and conse-
should there be on television?” is a
quences.
shallow question, useful mainly for
ad-
Institutional
compulsions to present
ministrative purposes. If used alone,
it
life in
can only lead to a new rating game
in salable packages exploit existing
assumptions about violence. Our telewhich networks compete for the lowest
vision study found that portrayals of
score, regardless of its meaning.
violence
mirror, rather than illuminate,
“What kinds of violence, what for,
and
our society’s prejudices. Cultural poliin what contexts?” are the key issues.
cies can expose the role of violence
Violence is a symptom of irreconciled
can use its images as instruments of
conflict, destruction, hurt, and or
waste.
very negation of humanity that it
It is, in a sense, the opposite of that
comrepresents. Indicators of the structure
munication. It negates the most
FIGURE 3-PERSONALITY PROFILES OF “KILLERS” AND “KILLED”
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
OLD .. .-YOUNG
MASCULINE

FEMININE
USUAL…..—
UNUSUAL
BUNGLING
EFF
CIEfT
REPULSIVE . .. . . I — ATTRACTIVE
EMOTIONAL
UNEMOTIONAL
INTUITIVE

IRRATIONAL
VIOLENT
.
_
LOGICAL
RATIONAL
NONVIOLENT
in KILLERS- FINAL OUTCOME: HAPPY (N- 25)
KILLERS-FINAL OUTCOME: UNHAPPY (N-lb)
e””‘””m”””””””””” KILLED- FINAL OUTCOME: UNHAPPY (N-25)
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CULTURAL INDICATORS: VIOLENCE IN TELEVISION DRAMA 81
of assumptions imbedded in our message
crime, business, education, art, illness
systems can help make these distinctions.
and health, peace and war, and sex,
They can also reveal trends in attenlove, and friendship, as well as conflict
and violence, should be analyzed. Roles,
tion, emphasis, tendency, and structure,
and their relationship to cultural policy.
traits, goals, values, and fates of charI have used the issue of violence to
acters engaged in dramatic action should
to the symbolic worlds in
illustrate aspects of the case, and be
ofrelated
a
which they act and the issues with which
scheme, for cultural indicators. But
representations of any aspect of life they
can grapple.
best be seen in the context of others,
The analysis of message systems can
across conventional distinctions of media
provide a framework in which compreor modes of representation, and against hensive, coherent, cumulative, and com-
the background of changes in time andparative information can be systematiplace. Sources of information should cally assembled and periodically rerange from existing indices and guidesported. Indicators relevant to specific
(often compiled for reference but usable problems or policies can then be seen in
as trend-indicators) to regular monitor- the context of the entire structure of
ing of the massive flow of messages and assumptions cultivated at a particular
images. The accounting should begin time and place.
These indicators will not necessarily
with the message systems most broadly
shared by the most heterogeneous pub- tell us what people think or do. But
lics. Cutting across all these sources, they will tell us what most people think
media, modes, and forms should be theor do something about and in common,
common terms and categories of analy- and suggest reasons why. They will tell
sis. These should include categories as us much about the shared representacomparable as possible to those studied tions of life, the issues, the prevailing
before and to those in other cultures, butpoints of view that capture public attenwhich are also sensitive to new and
tion, occupy people’s time, and animate
changing issues of public policy. their
Theyimagination. They will help to
understand, judge, and shape more inshould survey the history, geography,
telligently the changing symbolic climate
and demography of the symbolic worlds
that affects all we think and do. We
produced for common vicarious experience and learning. Interpersonalcan
andthen inquire into who thinks and
what, how, and why in sharper
group relationships portrayed indoes
these
awareness of the currents that tug and
message systems should be studied.
Themes of nature, science, politics, law, pull us all.
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Reaction Paper #2
Our chapter 12 has to do with interactive media which includes cooperative experiences such
as the utilization of social media platforms. While we are familiar with some of them, they are
not without criticism and scrutiny.
I’d like for you to listen to Act One from an episode of This American Life entitled, “Status
Update.” Consider the implications that these young people make about how social media
platforms such as Instagram play a pivotal role in their lives and social encounters. How do the
intricacies of face-to-face communication vary compared to computer-mediated
communication? Do you think that these platforms have a positive or negative impact on social
constructs? Is there a potential difference between the ways in which males and females use
these platforms and their subsequent repercussions? How about from the perspective of age?
Are there any specific stories or examples of interactions you have had via social media that
then influence relationships and communication in your “real” life? When we think back to
individuals making the argument that social media reinforces narcissism, do we think that
comes to fruition here?
You do not necessarily need to review the chapter prior to completing this reaction paper. All
papers should be 2-3 pages and submitted to the Dropbox. If you have any questions, please
don’t hesitate to let me know.

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