Media Effects: Profanity In the Media

Essay by bshumsUniversity, Bachelor'sA, July 2014

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Media Effects Report

Bryan Shumway

What is the effect?

While many effects could have been chosen for study in this report, the effect chosen was that of profanity in the media and its subsequent effects on those influenced by that media. This report will examine the impact of profanity within three categories, namely printed media, video games, and television/film. The effect is worthy of study because even though content creators may not intend profanity, swearing, cursing, cussing, or foul language to have a negative impact on those who view or otherwise interact with their media, there is reason to believe there are unintended negative consequences of such language.

This report will focus on the effect of what are deemed obscenities by the American public and governing bodies who make decisions regarding what content American citizens interact with, namely the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and others.

Among words deemed vulgar, there are varying degrees or levels of offensiveness. For this reasons, the ratings boards mentioned above have devised various systems ideally in place to protect consumers from offensive words. Less offensive words can be more commonly found on broadcast television, "Everyone" or "Teen" rated games, and G or PG movies. More offensive words, including the "seven dirty words" are reserved for use only on cable and premium television channels, "Mature" rated games, and R or NC-17 movies. The effect of these words on the public continues to be studied, but current research indicates that profanity in television, movies, books, and games can lead to an increase in verbal aggression, physical aggression, and relational aggression. This is a result of increased acceptance of the words being used, along with their...