Violence in the mass media has been a topic of much debate in recent years. Many studies have made the claim that the media is responsible for much of the violence seen in our country. One possible reason for this interest in a link between media violence and societal violence is that violence in the United States began to increase "fairly dramatically in 1965." "This is exactly when the first generation of children raised on TV began to reach the prime ages for committing violent crimes" (Bushman & Anderson, 2001, p.478). Violence is seemingly glorified, honored, and celebrated in mass media and signals to our people that violence is normal, glamorous, and widespread in our society (Brownback, 2001). Violence is not only found on television and in movies, but also in other forms of media such as music videos, cartoons, and video games. The violence seen in our media has a negative impact on both adults and children alike. When these messages of hate are targeted to children, its is not only scandalous, but also dangerous.
Defining media violence has been an issue that most of the literature seems to avoid. One article defines media violence as "Overt expression of physical force or the compelling of action against one's will with the threat of force" (Jones & Butterfield, 1996, n.p.). Often media violence is defined by the industry themselves (Surette, 2001). The Media Violence Labeling Act of 2000 requires a uniform labeling system for all movies, movie products, and video games. Warning labels are also required on all violent media products, including advertising (Melillo, 2000).
Violence is apparent in most forms of media and is especially noticeable in television, which includes cartoons. The American child watches an average of 28 hours of television a week. By the age of 18, children will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence in television alone (Muscari, 2002).