This page has been accessed since 28 May 1996.
During the course of the last ten years or so, I've written many comments to students on their papers. Some of those comments, I believe, are valuable to other students, particularly those that explain where they have made errors or missed something. Thus, I've included here some of those commentaries in hopes they may guide present and future students to avoid those same errors or omissions (especially since they AFFECT YOUR GRADES!!! (not too subtle, I trust)).
I've also included elements of various articles I'm working on. They are incomplete, being in the process, but may be of use as you work on your own writings.
LAWYER SHOWS 1949-1996 TITLE YEARS TYPE
Arrest and Trial
Asphalt Jungle, The
Blue Knight, The
Body of Proof
Burke's Law ('94)
Cagney and Lacey
Criminal Minds: Suspect
CSI: Crime Scene Invest.
Eleventh Hour, The
For the People
Get Christie Love
Good Guys, The
Law and Order
Law and Order: SVU
Law and Order: CI
Law and Order: LA
Life on Mars
Magruder and Loud
Mann and Machine
New Breed, The
O'Hara, US Treasury
Person of Interest
Rizzoli and Isles
Robbery Homicide Div.
Starsky and Hutch
Without a Trace
Crazy Like a Fox
Devlin Connection, The
Faraday and Company
Father Dowling Mysteries
Hardcastle and McCormack
Hart to Hart
Jake and the Fatman
Law and Harry McGraw
Lie to Me
McMillan and Wife
Murder, She Wrote
My Friend Tony
Over My Dead Body
Partners in Crime
Pros and Cons
Richard Diamond, Private Eye
77 Sunset Strip
Simon and Simon
South of Sunset
Spencer: For Hire
Thin Man, The
I do have some caveats about what you've said here. Let's look at some.
First, you say, "When television and movies
first began [I presume you realize that movies and television began about 50
years apart?] people were fully clothed and basically
polite and non-violent." However, one of the first major films, "The
Great Train Robbery," was almost non-stop shooting and beating (apparently
part of your definition of violence, although you never actually define the
term). "Birth of a Nation" was filled with shootings, beatings, lynchings, sexual assaults, etc..
Biblical spectacles, such as DeMille's "Ben Hur" and "The Ten Commandments" (the silent
versions, not the modern ones) and
However, most of the above is moot, since you state that you are writing about violence, not sex, in the media, thus comments about nudity are not clearly applicable to your topic.
Next point: you state, "Many would contend that violent crime and pornography rates have risen." This needs some discussion. Who are those "many"? Are they right? What evidence do they, or you, provide to support that contention? Risen since when? Risen in what way? How do they, or you, define pornography (nudity? sexual activity? to what degree? in what way?). FBI crime statistics indicate that the level of most violent crimes (armed robbery and burglary, muggings, assaults, etc.) has actually fallen over the last decade; has pornography actually risen or merely come out of the closet (the Victorian Era, when pornography was absolutely suppressed and outlawed, was also the era of the raunchiest, most explicit and violent pornography in history and produced in great quantity, bearing out the old cliché, that which is forbidden is the most attractive and desired; that which is common attracts little attention.).
Also, in regards to your quote from Eysenck and Nias (1978), they state, uncategorically, "There is no doubt, . . . that the increase in crime, violence and vandalism, and what might be called unorthodox or unsual sex practices,* over the past twenty or thirty years has been paralleled by an increase in the portrayal of violence in the media, particularly films and TV ..." This quote implied a cause and effect relationship. What proof do they provide that such a relationship exists, always assuming that they've proven that there has, indeed, been an increase in both crime and unusual sex practices and an increase in the portrayal of violence in the media? Parallel developments do not prove cause and effect, only that different things happen at the same time. The airplane was developed at the same time as motion pictures -- does that mean planes caused movies, or that movies caused planes? Has the parallel improvements in aircraft design and improvements in motion picture technology been the result of a cause and effect relationship? As stated above about the Victorian Era, there was a parallel increase in the suppression of violence and pornography, and the increase in the production and debasing quality of pornography and the increase in violence, both criminal and sexual. Is there thus a cause and effect relationship between the suppression of violence and pornography and the increase in both? Does that then imply that pornography and portrayals of violence should be increased to reduce the actuality of violence? The arguments are mirror-images of each other, yet the former, Eysenck and Nias', appears to be accepted as axiomatic while the latter (mine) is rejected out of hand as ridiculous. Yet, what's the difference? A priori assumptions about what is "right and proper"? An attempt by someone to promote a "utopian concept" without regard to the real world? A desire to maintain the belief of humans as "next to the angels" rather than "heir to the temptations of the flesh"? Is either argument viable at all?
Finally, there is the comment that people are being desensitized to violence to the point that they find it humorous, that they laugh at depictions of violence. However, using "Natural Born Killers" (hereinafter, NBK) as the proof of this contention has some problems. If you examine the criteria for humor (see "A Theory of Comedy" in Sitcom: What It Is, How It Works), people laugh at that which violates societal norms. Obviously, NBK must violate societal norms about depictions of violence; that is, it is so violent that it's ridiculous. Another criterion is that people perceive the event as harmless. NBK is so far out that it's cartoonish, it's Road Runner/Coyote violence, not reality. Those that laugh at it perceive the violence as harmless since it is obviously unreal, just actors. (Those that don't laugh, of course, perceive some harm, either to the actors, or to their own well-being, to the well-being of other audience members, or to society at large.) In any case, NBK cannot be equated with the nightly news, that "Viewers see and hear reports of horrible massacres, rapes and beatings, and they laugh" (provide citations in support of this contention); NBK is fictional, uses recognizable actors rather than real people, and is over-blown (no pun intended) to the point of parody. Thus, I don't see support for your final contention, "Viewers have difficulty distinguishing between real life pain and violent fantasy crafted by film makers, thus real life tragedy has become everyday news."
*Whatever that means: how do they define unorthodox or unusual sex practices -- hanging from trapezes? Anything but the missionary position between middle-aged married couples on Thursday nights with the lights off and the door locked? What are their qualifications to make such judgments about what other people do?
Generally excellent: well written, well organized, a nice lit review on the topic. I only have a caveat about the support. In your conclusion you state, "Today's media representations of women does not reflect the significant strides made by women in the last two decades toward equality and into the workforce." This may be true. However, you are basing that conclusion on content analysis research that is, in the main, 10 or more years old (the major exception being magazine article topics). Thus, you cannot arrive at a conclusion about the last 10 years, and thus you cannot arrive at a conclusion about the present. To counter this caveat, it would be advisable to do your own random sample content analysis of what you are discussing, such as commercials (multiple products, multiple target audiences), magazine ads (multiple products, multiple target audiences (of both the ads and the magazines)), comic books, TV shows and newspaper story gender content in order to confirm (or dispute) that the results of the old analyses are still current. One must always bear in mind, when doing sociological analysis, particularly in the United States over the last several years, that structures, institutions and relationships, especially those relating to gender, are constantly under massive flux, and that what was true 10 years ago is not necessarily true today (think of attitudes and presentations on or about sexual harassment, date rape, employment, child abuse and repressed memories, spousal abuse, dating and courtship customs and mores, parenting, etc., etc.). It is exactly such research as you cite that has led to much of the change in media depictions of women in the last 10 years or so; it is the change or lack thereof that you need to document.
However, in the modern world greed is more
than a societal issue. It is now a global issue. Greed is altering (many people
say destroying) the world. For some African tribes, such as the Watusi, wealth is measured in cattle: the more cattle, the
wealthier a person is. Thus, each person tries to have as large a herd as
possible, is greedy for more cattle. However, all these cattle need to eat, and
they are stripping the arid African lands bare of grass and shrubs, and
churning up the land with their hooves. These lands have a difficult time recovering,
even if they are given a chance, which is rare. Thus, the African deserts
constantly expand (the
Even worse, the legal and religious proscriptions against greed do not apply to the greatest reason why excessive greed can be considered harmful to society. Indeed, their proscriptions are against fighting this reason. Remember that "the real problem arose when the population increased and the possible wealth became limited. There was only so much land and money and other resources to go around. Thus, for one person to amass a lot of wealth, rhe had to reduce what somebody else could get. This created conflict in the society between the haves and have-nots, the go-getters and the no-getters." Thus, greed is not much of a problem until the population rises to the point where it outstrips the available resources.
However, laws and especially religious tenets insist that nothing be done to restrict population growth. Indeed, they demand that people do their best to increase the population. At one time, such proscriptions made sense: population was low, mortality was high, every society or culture was xenophobic, bodies were needed to do the work before they died. However, with the increase in life span and medical science, the decrease in mortality and viable environmental support, policies and proscriptions that require an ignorance of the effects of human over-population on the world are counterproductive (read, stupid).
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