Mean World Syndrome, Media & Tolle

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Media Violence and the Cultivation of Fear
A new film based on the late George Gerbner’s groundbreaking analysis of media influence and media violence

MEA's Mean World Syndrome

In A New Heaven New Earth, Eckart Tolle says that violence for violence sake is the pain body‘s way of seeking food. Violent films are made by pain bodies for pain bodies to view. He also wrote, however, that if a film, such as a documentary or drama about the Vietnam war or World War II for example,  use violence to illustrate the madness of the human mind, to wake us up to the insanity of the egoic mind, then violent depictions can have a role in showing us a way to becoming more fully conscious.   I’m still on the fence about Tolle’s comments. Meanwhile, the highly respected Media Education Foundation has just produced a new DVD called Mean World Syndrome.

“In an era dominated by simplified assumptions about the impact of television violence, Gerbner insisted on a broader perspective and a sharper analysis, arguing that the primary impact of the media was to reinforce, not to challenge, the structure of power.”
– Larry Gross, Director, USC Annenberg School of Communication

For years, debates have raged among scholars, politicians, and concerned parents about the effects of media violence on viewers. Too often these debates have descended into simplistic battles between those who claim that media messages directly cause violence and those who argue that activists exaggerate the impact of media exposure altogether.

The Mean World Syndrome, based on the groundbreaking work of media scholar George Gerbner, urges us to think about media effects in more nuanced ways. Ranging from Hollywood movies and prime-time dramas to reality programming and the local news, the film examines how media violence forms a pervasive cultural environment that cultivates in heavy viewers, especially, a heightened state of insecurity, exaggerated perceptions of risk and danger, and a fear-driven propensity for hard-line political solutions to social problems.

A provocative and accessible introduction to cultivation analysis, media effects research, and the subject of media influence and media violence more generally

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