Closely related to the consequence of desensitization is the media construction of crime and its outcomes as pleasurable. As real violence is rampant in young people’s entertainment they accrue enjoyment over violent and crime. It is not surprising to find young people watching a film, rejoicing over the violent killing of a character and as they often indulge in such activities in groups the effects become even more heightened. This attitude arises from the media’s depiction of violence as pleasurable and a source of immense enjoyment.
Azarian, Hassan and Osman (2009:153) assert that there is a high correlation between affection towards violent media content and their attitudes towards aggression. Affection for violence is displayed among young people when they respond positively to watching films with violent content. Research studies have shown that most young males are more interested in watching action films which have fighting, violent scenes and more dead bodies. This affinity for such content especially amongst adolescents is due to the arousal effect derived from these films.
This form of arousal is physically exhilarating and the constant watching of these films may enhance sympathetic activation of arousal. Young people as such, may develop the belief that violence can be a source of such arousal and this can account for why young people are attracted to violent crimes. In addition, their addiction to the feeling of arousal can heighten their need to indulge in violent behaviors. Apart from pleasure, Presdee (2000:78) also indicates that the media also displays humiliation as a positive force which can be used in gaining power over others.
Television and other mass media provide humiliation as a form of entertainment which amounts to young people recognizing that they can prey on others’ confidence and degrade others in order to have their way. Ultimately, creators of these forms of popular culture aim at invoking pleasure in situations where normally individuals are expected to show concern and sympathy. Young people are easily influenced and at a time when they are searching for their identity, violence can become their form of identity.
Huesmann and Taylor (2006:396) showcases experimental studies which have indicated that exposure to violence especially in young people through films and TV increases the possibilities for them to engage in aggressive behaviors. In fact, immediately after interacting with such violent content most of these young people engage in an aggressive behavior. This constant exposure reflects a capacity for these children to remember violent content and even the rate of its occurrence in the media. Such young people are likely to recall the number of people killed or raped by a character in the films.
This factor also insinuates that they become more and more comfortable with the notion of violence and with time they experiment and are even comfortable committing similar crimes. Violent video games are among the most used forms of entertainment by young people. Violent video games are quite problematic in recent times as they have been directly assigned blame for violent crimes committed by young people. Anderson (2004:113) illustrates such scenarios like school shootings orchestrated by avid video game players in the United States.
Just like other media forms of entertainment, video games are constructed under particular circumstances which are supposed to further encourage young people to play and indulge themselves. One characteristic of video games which directly impacts on young people’s attitudes towards certain elements of crime is the superhuman portrayal of criminal predators. Barak (1995:133) asserts that such predator icons are only evident in media forms as not many people have experienced such forms of crimes. As the main characters are portrayed as powerful and invincible, young people especially of the male gender become more attracted to such characters.
In their minds, they yearn to possess that kind of power and control others just like their favorite characters do in the video games. Following this, they strive to become the ultimate villains or victors who triumph over their enemies using aggression. This strong identification with such characters shapes how these young people relate to others and their use of violence and aggression. It is in their endeavor to be like these video game characters that they indulge in extreme criminal offenses like school shootings. Another common characteristic of most video games is the portrayal of women as victims, helpless or even as sexual objects.
As young people play these games constantly, they become familiar with women as objects for abuse and to whom violence should be directed. This is especially so because there are not many video games which have female lead characters depicted as powerful or superhuman. Children and young people are bound to become disrespectful to women, to view them as inferior and to victimize them. These attitudes are responsible for sexual crimes committed by young males on their female counterparts as a way of subjugating and controlling them.