Friday, 5 November 2010

Violence on screen - is it worth the risk?

The final instalment of the horror franchise Saw has topped the box office in its opening weekend.

Saw 3D is the seventh film in the ultra-violent series which has been described as ‘torture porn’.  Earlier this year the franchise was named the most successful horror series of all time.

Saw 3D has been classified by the BBFC as suitable viewing for people over the age of 18.   Once a film has been passed by the BBFC with an 18 certificate it is then able to be shown on television in due course.  We are concerned that once this film is shown on television (as previous films in the franchise have been) it will be very easy for children to access - particularly on video-on-demand services such as iplayer, itvplayer and 4OD.  Ofcom research shows that fewer than a third of parents use the password protected services available to screen what their children have access to.

We can no longer ignore the fact that what viewers see on screen has an effect.  Even the Government recognises this and is reported to be asking the producers of soap operas to include safe sex messages in their programmes.  There are numerous studies linking exposure to violence in the media with violent behaviour.

If drug companies now have to pass the most stringent test to show their products don't harm even the smallest proportion of takers, should violence on the screen be any different?

Bearing in mind the cost to society, and the misery of the victims of violent behaviour, if there is the slightest possibility that media violence can cause harm is this worth the risk in the interests of entertainment?

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