LETTER : TV violence: case studies and role models in the visual media

Related Topics
From Mr Mervyn Benford

Sir: Melvyn Bragg defends TV ("You can't blame it on the box", 4 August) typically robustly in terms of its alleged influence on young people but it seems too much a riposte to TV's detractors. He explicitly accepts TV as one of a range of potential influences upon the young. In being prepared to share the blame, he offers no ideas to contain such influence. Parents and the other cited sources of influence receive regular advice. Why should not TV and the media?

Hard-nosed commercialism supports the worth of TV advertising. Though aimed more at maintaining brand name and image, few dispute that it achieves such. Ever since The Archers, and maybe earlier, "soaps" on radio and TV have consistently incorporated into storylines current issues and a socially responsible attitude towards them. Surely this affirms that influence is possible through characters recognised as potential role models. Mr Bragg rightly argues the potential for good example to influence us.

Mr Bragg cites playground experience. What once was plain fist-fights has changed in recent years to include kicking persons on the ground. Footballers and football fans set this example, often faithfully reported on TV. The news media report horrific scenes of violence perceived not as fiction but fact. Real people are seen to be violent to one another. Vicariously these, too, are role models. It would be wrong to blame the escalating violence of our world on TV and film alone, but there has been a concurrent trend within the visual media in which scales of violence have escalated. It is fatuous to dissociate TV and film from engagement with an issue that may reflect similar, earlier debate but which has reached vastly more worrying proportions.

Mr Bragg does not deny that children rely on role models to establish accepted norms of behaviour. Respected sociology points to the probing employed by newcomers to social groups to discover what is or is not acceptable. It includes behaviour the particular group may deem undesirable, or anti- social. The group retains the right to set its own requirements and not see its best efforts undermined. The adult world is just the group to which a child comes as the newcomer.

It is well known in education that where home and school work together, the messages have more chance of sinking in. When school and home are opposed, home will usually win, though distress for the child may also show. Where society's messages conflict with other more personal impressions, including novelty, excitement, experiment, the first tendency will be to ignore society or authority. It remains important for society to work in harmony with its potential rivals for influence, but influence and modelling do occur. It is not always necessary to endure the distress of unacceptable behaviour. It remains possible to learn from others' experience and avoid the misery. It takes a full community partnership and TV has a role to play. It is dangerous to polarise the debate as pro- or anti- TV. It is myopic to confine it to violence. And despite the fact the British film censor may not become depraved by Lady Chatterley, it is clear adult attitudes to sexual licence have changed during a time when media licence in such matters has expanded.

Yours faithfully,

Mervyn Benford



4 August

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

Read Next

i Editor's Letter: Our representatives must represent us

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot