The inquiry above is one that the student packet, as well as many others, have asked in wake of the stream of violent imagery that the media utilizes to garner attention and ratings. The question in and of itself is flawed from the outset, though. When asking something like that, it is usually because whoever is asking is trying to actually say that, ‘yes, we are,’ but posing it in a way that invites the thoughts of the audience that has been asked. The way things are now, in terms of violent act, is really no different than the way they have been for centuries. In fact, it would seem that the burden of proof ought to be on those who agree, considering that the amount of violent crime in America has only been decreasing lately.
To draw from my own field of “expertise,” there has actually been a lot of buzz surrounding a PC game that is to come out, titled “Hatred.” The game has only had one trailer, and if the reaction that many gamers are having to it is a sign of anything, then the answer is very much “no” on the subject of desensitization. The gaming press has picked up on the game and since then, many have gone out of their way to say the game is deplorable, or have feedback in the comments section detesting the game due to the nature in which the game harkens on tropes of real life tragedies. The gameplay trailer is only a minute and a half, but features execution-style murders by a lone gunman (the player character) who is to kill as many innocent civilians as possible before dying. The game almost seems like a parody. As though it were a reflection on games through the eyes of those who do not play them. Suddenly, the imaginings of those who have criticized games for causing real-world violence, has been realized with “Hatred.” People are being sickened by what this game has on offer. Many of the gaming community are absolutely repulsed seeing a game where putting the barrel of a gun in the mouth of a defenseless woman and firing is the point of the entire game. The reason I bring this up is because of how often the charge of being “desensitized” is lobbied at those who play Mature rated videogames. It would appear that there are indeed limits to what people are capable of handling.
Going back now to the content of the student packet, it makes mention of psychologists rethinking their take on violence in the media. However, it doesn’t cite or refer to any scientists or studies of any kind. Again, the burden of proof makes itself prevalent. Also, in terms of photographs and video of real life violence, the idea that we could lose our humanity by seeing on the news is a little ridiculous. You would have to be one sick puppy to not find yourself feeling anything seeing the devastation in the Middle East. The correlation between the audience the sense of a lost connection however, is not stemming from the controversial imagery. People will abhor and be grossed out by depressing and despicable acts no matter what; it’s hard-wired into our minds to feel sympathy. I think that many of the news corporations are just struggling to gain the same sort of viewership despite the fact that what they are showing has been a hook for so long. People still care for each other. But they don’t really care to watch the TV.