Street Violence – Reflection

An issue which I found to be significant in the media is violence, and in particular, street violence. All kinds of mediascapes contribute to street violence in one way or another. This includes the influence from certain television programs, films, music etc. Not only is violence represented throughout the media, but violent related behaviour as a result of drug and alcohol abuse is common, sending an important yet persuasive message to audiences. Images and music film clips especially tend to present violence semiotically, particularly through the use of gender ideologies; such as men being portrayed as mysterious and dangerous.

In relation to street violence some popular topics I found the media liked to exaggerate were schoolies, riots, protests and nightlife. When the media focuses on these issues they tend to  single out certain vicinities as well, often producing a poor reputation for that area. An example would be the Cronulla riots in 2005 where the media played a significant role by influencing locals on which side to take in an discriminating manner. The series of incidents known as the Cronulla riots have echoed throughout the town and surrounding areas to this day. Right-wing media groups had been accused of broadcasting political agendas via radio and print media, flaring tension between locals. The media used this sense of community to connect with locals on a personal level,  and even encouraged violent behaviour.

Ageism is also a factor, especially when the media talks about schoolies violence. The ideology of teenagers is highly pressured within the media. For example it is easy to represent a group of teens as ‘out of control’ rather than, say, a group of elderly people. Violence is an easy topic for the media to nudge on the emotions of readers. Language if often in a negative tone which can make the reader feel uncomfortable, concerned, and scared. The way information is presented is just as important as the content itself, as emphasis is placed on particular words and phrases, audiences are more likely to be convinced.

 Violence portrayed in the media through television, films, video games and music has been known to increase the likelihood of aggressive and violent behaviour. This material is harmful especially to the young, prompting immediate and long-term effects. Representations of violence in the media directly provides a child with  particular ideas and experiences which shape their attitudes and influence their behaviours. It is important to consider these mediums as elements in a controlled societal media among children especially. This is because certain characteristics, environments and media content can affect the degree of media violence.

Many people don’t actually realise how powerful the media is. It’s power derives from accessibility and the fact that it is all around us, everywhere we go. Following initial presentations of media violence, other forms of media are then used to perpetuate and emphasise outcomes. This is common within traditional news media such as TV broadcasting, radio, magazines, newspapers and other forms of print media. The media achieves this by blasting biased perspectives on violence related issues, in hopes to mould the minds of viewers to their own attitudes. Language, tone, lighting and sound all add to this effect of influential media.

BUT something I find to be more significant is that…

As violence is continuously targeted and now this new era of social media is evolving, now criticism of violence is also in the hands of the audience – of what is known as the outbreak of citizen journalism. There are new, different, instant types of distribution which are hard to keep up with, proving difficulty when trying to regulate user content. Within the public sphere, sites such as Facebook and YouTube are used to discuss and propel violent behaviour. Violence can often be fuelled or expanded by nasty comments, videos or images online through these platforms. Online video streaming has become an explosive medium, and YouTube has presented a dominance in this area. Whilst this user generated content may be used for research and entertainment, it has also been treated as as a medium for expression or documentation regarding violent behaviour. These videos uploaded by users which incorporate violence are often in public places such as schools, parks and just on the streets.

It’s issues like these which fuel moral panic about the media, as we are told to trust and believe what they say; however the outcome is not always favourable. As citizen journalists, the role of the media is ever-changing in a free and open public sphere. The representation of violence within the media is already being altered as a result of online prosumers.

Street Violence – Media Influence

Violence portrayed in the media through television, films, video games and music has been known to increase the likelihood of aggressive and violent behaviour. This material is harmful especially to the young, prompting immediate and long-term effects. Representations of violence in the media directly provides a child with  particular ideas and experiences which shape their attitudes and influence their behaviours. It is important to consider these mediums as elements in a controlled societal media among children especially. This is because certain characteristics, environments and media content can sway affect the degree of media violence. This content is threatening to young children as they cannot comprehend the connection between violence and its consequences. For example in many children’s programs there is a “good guy” and a “bad guy”. In the majority of cases both are included in violent acts yet the “good guy” isn’t punished. Children are then able to observe that cartoon characters typically recover from severe violent acts almost immediately. This type of exposure is then placing a false interpretation on reality to the child. It leads them to believe that in real life, victims of violent acts are rarely hurt.

A classic representation of violence in children’s cartoon shows is Tom & Jerry (1975). This show has been hotly debated because of the quirky violent behaviour between a cat and a mouse. Another important feature is that the show does not incorporate dialogue., which then demands more focus on the physical actions. Within the context or cartoon/animals it seems harmless, but the actual behaviour still seems unreasonable to some. An article in The Guardian described the show as “ultra violent” “morally unquestionable”.  However, other types of media have poked fun at the cartoon. One example would be in “The Simpsons” where a parody of Tom & Jerry is made, known by the characters as “Itchy and scratchy”. Scenes where Itchy and Scratchy feature in The Simpsons, Bart and Lisa are always laughing in hysterics after each episode, which consistently entail gruesome (for cartoons) and violent behaviour.

Street Violence – Online Media

Violence can often be fuelled or expanded by nasty comments, videos or images online. This ‘cyber hate’ is typically used to discriminate, threat, and warn victims. Sites such as Facebook and YouTube have been known to propel violent behaviour.

Facebook, for example, has been proven as a powerful tool with relation to violent intimidation. In some cases it is used to organise a meeting time and place for violent behaviour. When this information is posted on networking sites such as Facebook, it is then able to be dispersed online within the public sphere. Subsequently, this causes more people to be involved in acts of violence.

In August 2010, an article posted by The Economist outlined an issue where  two teenagers were gunned down while riding a motorcycle in Columbia. Their names had appeared on a “hit list” which was posted on Facebook that included death threats and menacing messages. The victims were warned and told they  had three days to depart or else they would be in danger of these violent acts once again.

Online video streaming has become an explosive medium, and YouTube has presented a dominance in this area. Whilst it may be used for research and entertainment it has also been treated as as a medium for expression or documentation regarding violent behaviour. In 2006, the issue became so extensive that politicians in the U.K. sought to legislate against violence on YouTube, with U.K. ministers claiming that the videos “fuel random acts of violence.”

An example would be an incident which occurred  in April 2008 where six teenage girls in Florida beat up their peer whilst recording the attack with the intention of posting it on YouTube. Some news media responses blamed the incident on YouTube itself, however arguments were made that YouTube merely reflected violence. In this instance YouTube was used as a catalyst to the violence as the camera’s presence during the assault was purely for the footage to be uploaded for ‘popularity’. Online reactions included  YouTube videos uploaded by users commenting on the story, an example of citizen journalism. Other users posted amateur re-inactments of the video in an attempt for humorous exposure. Traditional news media such as newspapers and TV shows covered the story, most with a biased perspective using language such as “animalistic behaviour”.

Street violence – Cronulla riots

The Cronulla riots is renowned for its racial and alcohol fuelled battle in December 2005. An out of control group of 5 thousand people gathered on Cronulla beach and surrounding streets to protest against a recent outbreak of violence against locals. The riots were triggered by the bashing of 2 volunteer lifesavers followed by ongoing tensions between locals and visitors between the beach. The investigation of why the riots erupted on the beach indicated  a strong sense of ‘surfie culture’ which was blown up by the media. Locals have stated that it was purely an act of defending their territory and national identity and the media assisted to intensify this.

The media played a very significant role throughout the Cronulla riots. On December 11 tensions flared between predominantly anglo-european ‘aussies’ and muslims ‘lebs’. There were varying  responses from locals – some expressed shame and fear while others were not surprised. Right-wing media groups had been accused of broadcasting political agendas. Alan Jones voiced on a local radio station a biased argument against “middle eastern bastards” bringing attention to the issue and stating that Cronulla beach has been “taken over by scum”. Jones openly advocated and encourages violent behaviour against middle-easterners implying that they were the cause of all problems. This public, upfront argument struck citizens with fear and rage. Newspapers also enhanced racial discrimination and violence, the Telegraph posting headlines such as “Fight for Cronulla: We want our beach back”. By saying ‘we’ this indicates a biased opinion and that they are siding with locals and subtly hoping to encourage the community to ‘fight’ for the beach. This implies that the media is okay with violent acts which may break out. The media uses this sense of community to connect with locals on a person level which is an evident point proving media were a partial cause of the riots, presenting it as something that was longing to happen.

Street violence – Wollongong nightlife

Street violence generally occurs late at night in and out of pubs and nightclubs typically fuelled by alcohol and/or illicit substances. Sometimes the perpetrator is not provoked at all and just looking to start a fight. Usually no weapons are involved but in some cases items found or brought are used e.g. glasses/bottles, knives.

An article printed in The Daily Telegraph February 19, 2011 reports about violence in NSW focusses on Wollongong’s CBD  as a video of collaborated brawls caught on CCTV shows “grim footage that proves alcohol-related violence is out of control in NSW”. This footage has been brought to the attention of local police and discussion of new laws is said to be put in place to hopefully prevent these occurrences. Violence is an easy topic for the media to nudge on the emotions of readers. The language used in the article presents a negative tone which can make the reader feel uncomfortable, concerned, and sometimes scared. For example “grim, brutal, out of control, graphic” and phrases such as “beat each other to a pulp”. When reading this article online, footage of brawls on the streets of Wollongong is available to watch above the text. The video contains no sound, just clips of several of the worst fights caught on camera portraying an alarming state of violence in Wollongong at night time. By the audience watching this before reading the article it assists to sway the minds of the public to agree with regulations debating to be put in place (lock out times, clubs closing earlier etc).

Street violence – Schoolies

The media likes to blow up or exaggerate Schoolies violence. It is a hot topic in society because 1- A high per cent of the population have children or are people who attend schoolies 2- Teenagers are an easy target when acting out (they represent our future generations) 3- Considering the amount of people in one vicinity for schoolies, violence does occur, yet it’s not as ruthless as the media makes it out to be.

An example would be A Current Affair’s (ACA) report on Schoolies in Bali (many Australian high school graduates travel here and is a popular tourist destination). ACA uses a very biased review on this issue aiming for the audience to ‘take their side’ by not showing the full story making it difficult for viewers to form another opinion. This is created by presenting only one perspective of the issue. They have achieved this by using snippets of chaotic and violent behaviour indicating that’s all that happens at schoolies. This is further amplified through the use of evocative language when describing incidents which have occurred such as ‘alarming temptations’ the title of the story, ‘Berserk in Bali’ and the repetition of stating there is ‘no rules’ due to the corrupt environment.

Other popular Schoolies destinations for Australian high school leavers are QLD’s Gold coast and Byron Bay where destructive and violent behaviour also occurs. Yet Schoolies in Bali is more relentlessly targeted in a very negative way by the media. Alcohol and drug related violence occurs everywhere, especially places which embrace tourism (such as the Gold Coast). It also needs to be taken into consideration that there is a high possibility of increased violence and crime in peak seasons when certain areas are overpopulated. The portrayal the media places on Schoolies tends to shock and concern viewers, especially parents with teenagers yet to travel to Schoolies destinations.

BCM110 – INTRO: STREET VIOLENCE PRESENTED IN THE MEDIA

A “hot button issue” which I find significant and recurring throughout all forms of the media is Violence. I plan to focus on the way media portrays violence on the streets or in schools with the influence of things such as drugs, alcohol, TV, films, games, music etc.

Violence can be defined as the “intentional use of physical force against another person or against oneself, which either results in, or has a high likelihood of resulting in, injury or death” (Rosenberg, O’Carroll and Powell 1992, p. 3071). Violence is generally classified according to the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator (e.g. gang violence), as well as the location in which it takes place (e.g. street violence).

I will be approaching each theme of street violence from various perspectives in hopes to create both an educational and controversial blog, regarding how the media conveys this topic and its effect on target audiences.

ME & THE MEDIA

My name is Loren, I’m a 19 year old student studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media / Journalism degree at UOW.

I am very familiar with being connected online and have been since my early adolescence. Myspace, Bebo, Msn messenger, Piczo, Blogspot, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Google+ are just some social networking sites off the top of my head that have come and gone since I have been a part of the online world. Sure, all of these sites still exist but the boom in popularity have differed. This just goes to show how rapidly the media is actually converging.

I find myself using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram regularly (daily) because they are the easiest to access when on the go (via iPhone apps). I feel that these media platforms are also the most popular within my age group which creates an instant convenience when I feel the need to share thoughts, photos, videos and much more.

I love social networking and being a part of a ‘wireless’ generation. I feel it is the most powerful way in today’s society to communicate because it is easily accessible, instant, and not to mention global. Furthermore I think that people really underestimate the power in online media – one click of a button and it’s there for anyone to see. This is a major advantage to the media industry as they are able to get more information out there in a smaller amount of time with comparison to, for example, print media.

I am really looking forward to learning more about technological convergence. Hello and welcome BCM students.