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Creatures of Cain$
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Erika Lorraine Milam

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691181882

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691181882.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 22 May 2022

A Dangerous Medium

A Dangerous Medium

(p.190) 11 A Dangerous Medium
Creatures of Cain

Erika Lorraine Milam

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how Hollywood depictions of violence on screen, almost always performed by men, perpetuated popular conceptions of human nature as inherently brutal. They also served as a focal point for the concerns of parents, psychologists, and educators about the potential effects of violence in the media on sensitive viewers like children or adults with emotional disturbances. Renewed debates over what constituted “appropriate” content on television and in the theaters quickly followed. Some parents, meanwhile, argued that violence was an inevitable aspect of modern life and therefore children should be taught to understand and deal with it. Film provided one means of doing so. A great many more (or at least a more vocal subset) insisted that through a steady consumption of shoot-'em-up westerns and other tales of revenge and mayhem, innocent children could turn into troubled youths. Of all the concerns parents and teachers raised about the subtle lessons children would learn through violence in film and on television, two repeatedly recur: that the line between criminality and justice was nebulous, and that all men had the potential for violent action when subjected to great pressure.

Keywords:   Hollywood, violence, media, film, television, human nature

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