The barbaric incidents of sexual violence seen in Delhi recently has raised a question on the effect of Bollywood, TV and Computer Games on the psyche of people and whether they are contributing to the growing violence and sexual assaults in the society.
There have been some discussions on the Twitter and on the TV in this regard in the last few days. Some of the Bollywood celebrities including Ms Sharmila Tagore tried to defend the current trends in Cinema where women are shown in a highly degrading manner on the screen as a natural development because of commercial considerations. They also tried to say that even in the 70’s the every movie had at least one rape scene and there was no corruption of the society as we see today. Hence they expressed a view that Bollywood cannot be blamed for the current status of women in cities like Del
Ms Kiran Bedi on the Twitter has drawn attention to a scientific survey on the impact of violence on TV and Movies on the viewing public. The details of the study are available here.
The researchers have confirmed that “when participants watched violent images, networks of nerve cells started to rapidly reorganize themselves throughout the brain: the participants’ brain function was changing in response to what they were seeing on the screen. The volunteers’ attention was reoriented, their perceptions were heightened, and their autonomic nervous system became highly active, all of which are indicative of the stress response”.
The research also stated that “When you are engrossed in watching a TV show, movie, or news footage, your unconscious sees the violent images and doesn’t know they are on a screen; your unconscious believes you are right there in the action.”
The observations made above in respect of violence on TV/Cinema screen indicates that the effect of Computer games could be even worse. Unlike the TV or Cinema, the viewers in a Computer Game actually take a role in the game and become part of the experience. Hence they absorb all the effects of the game including the desires that are associated with the character in the games. There are many computer games where the character is involved in “killing” or “Raping” other characters. One can imagine what would be the impact of such games on the society.
One of the studies on video games indicate as follows:
” teens who play violent video games for extended periods of time:Tend to be more aggressive, Are more prone to confrontation with their teachers, May engage in fights with their peers and See a decline in school achievements. (Gentile et al, 2004).” (Details are available here) There could be many other studies of this nature which may give us some kind of a link to the growing menace of female abuse in the society today.
Even if we restrict our discussion to the movies, one classical difference between the movies of 70’s and today are that in those days there was a clear distinction between the heroes and villains and the heroines and side characters. Normally the heroes were always good and it was the villain who indulged in rape or other bad acts. Similarly it was not the heroine who was subjected to violent sexual abuse but it was other less important characters. The viewers always identified themselves with the heroes or heroines and hence they were not too much involved with the bad characters or bad acts.
On the other hand today we see heroes also frequently engaging themselves in violent acts. Similarly the heroines with whom people would like to identify themselves indulge in “Item dances” which are fundamentally obscene depiction of women.
As a result, the effect of TV and Movies of today are also very negative.
I wish the celebrities of the Bollywood as well as other regional industries appreciate this view point and seriously review their negative contribution to the society in pursuance of money.
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