Can Cartoons Promote Violence?

August 2, 2009

In sociology there is a theory called “modeling.” It refers to a process through which we watch other people and learn from their behavior. For example, if a person always dresses in a business suit and we notice he is promoted faster than those who don’t—some of us might start wearing more formal attire if we want to get promoted, too! In more scholarly terms, we copy behavior we associate with positive outcomes in society. Now, the rub is, how responsible are we in the behavior we choose to copy? Watch the cartoon below and see if it associates violence with social success:

Would you like to discuss this cartoon? If so select one of the topics below and reply to it.

1. How did the characters in the cartoon attempt to dominate each other through education or violence? What might this suggest about the social utility of violence versus intelligence in social competition ?

2. How much credibility do you think cartoons would have in determining your own social behavior? Do you think a nine-year-old would view the content of the cartoon differently? What are the possible implications of the modeling theory being applied to determine the possible effects of violence in cartoon content?

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One comment

  1. Cartoons promote whatever you want them to. Personally I like to view them as a reminder that you can’t take life too seriously. If anything cartoons promote a new society where your imagination has no limits. There is not violence because you cannot get hurt. A perfect example of this can be seen in the movie Space Jam when Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck explain to Michael Jordan that, “this is loony toon land” and that you can puff a character full of air, let him buzz around a room and leave on a stretcher only to come back a minute later perfectly untouched. As far as determining our own social behavior I can’t help but feel as though the only thing you might learn from Popeye wouldn’t be violence but new mannerisms for speaking and your concept of joking might change. Asking if cartoons are too violent is like asking if Groucho Marx is too condescending or if it would make you a rude person to ask for respect if you listened to too much Rodney Dangerfield. Life is too short to take comedy and cartoons this serious, they are meant to help escape from the real world. If you can’t distinguish the two then you need to get rid of your HD.

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