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economic nature in the environment of children; of particular importance in this respect, are various kinds of parental delinquent behavior, poverty, malnutrition, and inadequate surroundings.
2. The presence of any organic abnormality, however slight, involving the nervous system, particularly the brain, in younger individuals, particularly when developed or acquired under the stresses outlined in condition No. 1.
3. Exposure to such environmental stress and suggestion as may be expected to promote interest in various aspects of crime and violence including programs of this nature on radio and television and comic sequences most particularly under circumstances outlined in conditions Nos. 1 and 2. In the absence of conditions Nos. 1 and 2, it is not very likely that environmental suggestion would be likely to have more than accidental influence on the development of crime and delinquency.
CONCLUSIONS REGARDING VIOLENCE AND BRUTALITY IN MOTION PICTURES
The following conclusions pinpoint the psychological mechanisms that may transpire in a child in the throes of a frustrating environmental situation and who focuses his attention on certain kinds of content in the mass media.
1. Certain children exhibit a need to watch motion pictures with an underlying theme of crime, violence, or brutality.
2. If a child has a need to watch motion pictures of a violent nature, or motion pictures with brutal or sadistic contents, the fact that these types of films make up a small percentage of the total output of the industry does not make any difference because if there were only a very small number produced, the child who needs this type of movie would seek it out and would still be saturated with this type of presentation. However, once again, the probability of finding one is increased, of course, if there is a greater percentage of this type of motion picture produced.
3. If a percentage of these children view crime, violence, and brutality in order to vicariously reduce aggressive impulses by watching and identifying with movie heroes, either lawful heroes or supermantype heroes, we can assume that after the movie is over the child is still in the real-life situation that is producing his frustration and leading to his aggressive impulses.
4. Thus, while the vicarious reduction of aggression sometimes can be accomplished temporarily by viewing motion pictures of this type, the basic causes of the frustration still remain and the child may increasingly focus his attention on this type of film.
5. By identifying with the movie heroes, the child develops a frame of reference for reacting to frustration, for example, aggression. It is conceivable that when a child experiences aggression in fantasy via watching motion pictures, he has learned to be aggressive in fantasy but not in reality. The carryover from fantasy to reality is something which occurs more easily in some children than in others. Some children learn the discrimination partly by being punished when they try to behave in reality as they would in fantasy. This means that it is by no means certain that a great deal of fantasy experience with aggression will carry over into real life, especially if there are firm real-life controls against the expression of aggression.
6. The long-range effect theoretically could be that the child, after a period of time, could reach the point where he may focus his aggression on the actual person or persons causing his frustration and the probability that he will react toward these real-life objects as his movie heroes did in fantasy is increased. In other words, instead of trying to solve the problem, he may knock it out of the way like the movie superman who, because he has continually provided this frame of reference, may offer the only course of action the child is aware of.
Many of the witnesses before the subcommittee from the movie industry referred to the statements of one another to the effect that movies do not create attitudes but that they reflect the already existing attitudes in our culture. Granting that the movies do reflect already existing attitudes in our society, the subcommittee believes that not only are the attitudes of acceptance which exist in our culture toward crime, violence, and brutality influencing these media but after a time these media pass on or transfer these attitudes to the younger generation.
Thus, it is found that while viewing a specific act will not cause an average child to go out and commit à similar act, looking at a great amount of these acts could create on impressionable young minds a permissive atmosphere for this type of behavior, and in emotionally disturbed children, could actually trigger behavior of a violent or brutal nature.
In summary, it may be said that a faithful representation of the opinions of the aforementioned clinically trained people coming into day-to-day contact with juvenile delinquency, may be stated as follows:
1. That the mass media, including the movies, reflect many of the socially undesirable attitudes, desires, wishes, etc., of the adult society and to that extent they are reflecting the prevailing atmosphere.
2. These media have a tremendous influence on the young child in his early development and that while reflecting the major attitudes of the society, they are in turn influencing, to a great degree, the attitudinal development of children. That given an emotionally stable child who has had what may be interpreted as the proper emotional relationship with his parents, this type of presentation in the mass media may have little or no effect in terms of influencing his behavior. However, given a child with a more or less undeveloped attitudinal framework, the mass media may go a long way toward providing ideas both in the development of attitudes and in predisposing the child for a certain type of behavior. It is likely that the movies exert the greatest influence when there is no alternative source of information or images in the environment of those who see them. For example, children may be temporarily influenced because they do not know any better. On the other hand, given a child who has had what may be interpreted as poor emotional relationships with his mother and father and who is in the throes of a frustration-aggression complex, this child may gain support and ideas from viewing aggressively brutal and violent scenes as presented in motion pictures, and as presented both in pictoral form and in the terminology present in motion-picture advertising. He may incorporate these ideas into his behavior pattern with the end result being a delinquent child.
V. MOTION-PICTURE ADVERTISING
The subcommittee questioned one of its previous witnesses from the television hearings, Dr. Ralph S. Banay, in regard to his attitude toward motion-picture advertising. He supplied the subcommittee with an editorial from the Journal of Social Therapy, which is the official publication of the Medical Correctional Association. Dr. Banay stated that the editorial reflected the opinions of the majority of the members of the association. The editorial was entitled, “Prurient MotionPicture Advertising in Times of Increased Sex Crimes." It reads as follows:
Censorship is a disagreeable, unpopular, and largely futile device, but there are times when it seems to become inevitable. Fortunately, a sort of spontaneous cultural safety valve usually operates to invoke self-control before public repression is necessiry. Publishers of books, magazines, newspapers, and comic books, film and theatrical producers, the radio and television industries--all have passed through the stage of having to agree that certain standards are indispensable if their contacts with the public are to be kept socially acceptable. Evils and abuses arise from time to time and are challenged on behalf of decency and good taste; the purveyors then face the choice of policing themselves or waving some form of outside pressure imposed upon them. The latest candidate for this prophylactic treatment is motion-picture theater advertising.
Readers of even the most respectable family newspapers must have noticed a steady recent increase in the insinuative pruriency of film publicity. In text and illustration, a considerable proportion of these ads have reached a point close to pornography. By crafty implication and innuendo, they appear to remain within the bounds of discretion, but their total impact, on children as well as adults, can only be provocative. It is hardly necessary to assemble an illustrative exhibit of this technique—it can be seen on almost any film advertising page almost any day. Supercharged sex is the dominant keynote. Bosomy, carnally glorified heroines are portrayed in the throes of passion. Couples are locked in frenetic embrace suggesting an inevitability of coition. Purple prose is keyed to a fererish tempo to celebrate the naturalness of seduction, the condonability of adultery, the spontaneity of adolescent relations. Boy gets girl, or vice versa, is the perennial theme. The gun and the bludgeon are complementary symbols as sadism is injected into the aphrodisiac dose. Violence, excitement, suspense, and climax are arrayed in hardly subtle paraphrases of the course of physical intimacy. The movie advertising men know their trade, and their public, and they ply one and exploit the other with highly charged but scarcely ethical gusto.
Parents and others concerned with keeping children's interests on a wholesome plane, find that their efforts are often made futile by the infiltration into the home of insidious influences of this kind. After taking pains to provide books, music, art, and amusements of a high order, they discover that by simply reading a newspaper their youngsters come under the sway of forces anything but edifying. It is true that the same children go to the theater to see the very films that the high-pitched advertising publicizes. But films are subject to censorship and are graded for adult or youthful patronage. Their advertising, on the other hand, plays up, exaggerates, and distorts lurid features that may be only incidental in the actual presentation, or may even have been eliminated.
Another factor worth noticing is that prurient use of the graphic arts for general distribution can affect the public welfare in many baleful ways. With sex crime so rampant as to constitute a serious community problem, it is not expedient to multiply the sources of aggravation to which psychopaths are subject, or to foster an impression that sexual promiscuity is a common inclination. It would he fatuous to argue that popular publications can or should be Bowdlerized for this purpose, but surely there is no need to encourage a trend to uncurbed license either.
It can be recognized that the cinema interests are goaded by the practical problem of maintaining their business against the competition of television and other public allurements. But neither Hollywood nor its exhibitors can conscientiously contend that the material end justifies the means of letting hucksterism run wild. Plainly they are moving in a direction that is bound to provoke an earnest public protest and they would be well advised to put their own house in order on their own initiative. 22
» Editorial, Prurient Motion-Picture Advertising in Times of Increased Sex (rimes, in the Journal of Social Therapy, vol. I, No. 3, April 1955, pp. 146-147.
TYPES OF ADVERTISIXG (OXSIDERED OBJECTIONABLE
It the Los Angeles hearings, the subcommittee presented a display «lepicting various types of movie advertising. The display included an ad for the motion picture Five Against the House. It was described as the story of a perfect crime, which is a violation of the Motion Picture Production Code. One of the group contained ads for the motion pictures, Chicago Syndicate, New York Confidential, New Orleans Uncensored, Big Combo, and Big Tip Off. All of these ads described, in lurid detail, big city or syndicate crime. Another exhibit contained ads for Shield for Murder, the story of a killer-cop, and Rogue (op, the story of a brutal cop. Other ads on display included Crashout and Black Tuesday, both of which were advertised as pictures containing excessive brutality and violence. In fact, the whole emphasis on the advertising was to the effect that these films outdid any previous films as regards brutality and violence and, therefore, they should be seen. Two ads of the type described in the editorial in the Journal of Social Therapy included Kiss Me Deadly and Hell's Island. These ads portrayed females in the height of either sexual passion or anger, each holding a revolver in her hand, combining sex and violence in a most graphic manner. Another set of ads was on the current film, The Blackboard Jungle, in which the attempted rape scene of the schoolteacher by a young hoodlum, although lasting only a few moments in the movie, constitutes the majority of advertising for the film. Advertising for the movies Big Combo, Violent Saturday, Woman's Prison, East of Eden, The Prodigal, and Shotgun, all had very suggestive scenes of a sexual nature. In the ads on Woman's Prison, are such statements as "Prison love nest bared-Man smuggled into woman's prison," and "Prison revels exposed.” On viewing the motion picture, the subcommittee found that the advertising in no way reflected the film's contents.
In the advertising for the film, Violent Saturday, many of the ads seemed to dwell on the adventures of a peeping tom and his successes in this venture. One ad in particular, for the motion picture, The Prodigal, came into much discussion during the hearings. It was felt to be highly suggestive, and in fact may have been interpreted with a double meaning.
Dr. Marcel Frym suggested that these motion-picture ads may also act as "trigger-mechanisms“ for the initiating of antisocial behavior on the part of predisposed delinquents, even more so than in the movies that they depict. This may be true not only because the ads are sometimes more suggestive than the actual films, but also because they are la-ting, permanent, and do not pass in a few moments as a scene from a motion picture does.
Of all the motion-picture executives who appeared before the subcommittee, not one would defend the motion-picture advertising that was on display. In fact, the Motion Picture Advertising Code administrator, Mr. Gordon S. White, stated that if he had to pass on the advertising presented at the hearings again, he would, in all probability, change the content of the ads on display.
Gordon S. White has been director of the Advertising Code Administration of the Motion Picture Association of America for the last 10 vears. Prior to joining the association, he was a newspaper reporter, an editor, and an advertising executive. The Advertising Code is an integral part of the motion-picture industry's voluntarily adopted system of self-regulation and has been in effect since 1930.
As with the Production Code, all members of the association subscribe to the Advertising Code and its services are open to members and nonmembers alike. Any producer or distributor of a motion picture bearing the Production Code certificate of approval voluntarily agrees in advance to bring the film's advertising into line with the Advertising Code. In conformity with the principles of the Advertising Code, it is the job of the Advertising Code Administration to maintain good moral standards and decency in advertising copys submitted to it.
The Advertising Code Administration has two offices. One is in New York, where Mr. White is located and where much of the film advertising originates. The other is in Hollywood, in charge of Mr. Simon Levy, associate administrator.
While the Production Code Administration and the Advertising Code Administration have identical principles and purposes, there are important differences in operations that Mr. White discussed at the hearings.
The Production Code Administration deals with a motion picture as a whole, i. e., with the entire content. It is concerned with the subject matter, the treatment, and the development and unfolding of the theme, to insure that the completed picture in its entirety meets the standards of the code. It deals with the picture as the public actually sees it in the theater. Moreover, the total number of pictures is for less than the total items of advertising copy. For instance, last year the Production Code Administration approved 303 feature films. The Advertising Code Administration passed on 129,229 pieces of advertising and publicity copy.
Of necessity, motion-picture advertising can deal only with a part of a film and its contents. It can only highlight what is in the motion picture. It reflects, represents, and treats symbolically with a film. A motion-picture ad is designed to attract attention to sell the product and to induce the potential patron to go out of the house and to the theater. In these days of strong competition from television, motionpicture advertising seeks to be especially striking and effective in the field. It attempts to convince in a line, in a word, in an illustrationand it must convince quickly.
All of these are perfectly understandable designs and ends; however, Mr. White felt that they also are the root of some of the misunderstanding about film advertising copy. He felt that like all other advertising, motion-picture advertising does not and should not be expected to give a verbatim report of everything that is in a film. There is neither space nor time. What it does seek to do, and what it is designed to do, is to convey the spirit, the atmosphere, the feeling, and the general impression of the photoplay. This is fair, proper, and accepted advertising practice and is neither misleading nor misrepresentative. Mr. White gave as an illustration an automobile ad portraying a beautiful model in a bathing suit stepping out of a convertible in front of a pillared mansion. Ile pointed out, however, that when you buy the car, you don't get the mansion or the girl. Mr. White felt this exemplified the type of movie advertising which, in actuality, may not specifically portray scenes or situations which appear in the film it is representing.