The Man Who Counts The Killings Essay

, Research Paper

I. Personal Summary of Position Taken in this Reading

Scott Stossel writes the article of “The Man Who Counts the Killings.” This reading focuses on the lifetime works and studies of George Gerbner. He would be best known as “the man who counts the killings” because he had spent the last thirty years doing just that. A National Commission on the causes and prevention of violence selected George Gerbner in 1968 to study the effect of violence in the media by analyzing the amount of violence on television. George Gerbner presents study after in the Cultural Indicators Project. Through the quotes and accounts of Gerbner, the article suggests that with the increasing amount of television viewing there was an increasing amount of violence. Gerbner’s studies show that television may not just indicate our culture but also educate our culture on how to behave.

Scott Stossel supports Gerbner’s studies by the example of Ronny Zamora’s testimony of killing an eighty-two year old woman. Ronny Zamora’s defense was that he watched so much violence on television that he could no longer distinguish between right and wrong.

There is the suggestion that a device known as the V-chip could help curb the effects of violence on our culture, however it is not likely. Although the V-chip would put parents in control of television violence viewed by children, children will figure it out before the parents do. The problem diminishes the effectiveness of technology fighting technology.

In comprehension of Gerbner’s views, not all television is bad. The article indicates that our concern should be on the content of future programming. Furthermore, Gerbner believes that the awareness of effects of television violence is the first step to curbing the violence in our culture. Gerbner’s belief that television has the power to stifle our democracy strengthens the idea that television cultivates fascism.

II. Support Points

There are two most striking points that Stossel makes about Gerbner’s view. One, Stossel claims that “fascism is the specter that looms over all of Gerbner’s life.” Although this may “unduly color his world view,” he believes that Gerbner is on the right track. There is a need to be concerned of the effects of violence in daily television viewing (pg. 104).

Secondly, Stossel comments on the mean world syndrome agreeing with Gerbner. There is a volume of violence surfing prime time television that presents a wold that has a crime rate one hundred times worse than reality (pg. 91).

Most important Stossel supports Gerbener as an authority. Stossel refer to Gerbner as the “man who counts the killings (pg. 86).” Stossel presents Gerbner’s mass of studies and statistics (pg. 90).

III. An Extraordinary Statement

An extraordinary statement in the article is that Stossel refers to Neil Postman as a “self proclaimed Ludite. ( pg. 94)” It is true that Neil Postman’s views make those of Gerbner’s seem tame. In compairison, giving more authority to Gerbner’s views by not being so ridiculous and outrageous as Postman is.

IV. I Don’t Understand

At first, I did not understand why Stossel relied so heavily on Gerbner’s views. However, now I see how he counts on the authority of Gerbner to get the message out.

V. Group Discussion Summary

The group discussion has concluded that The article “The Man Who Counts The Killings” validates Gerbner with prestige on his studies of the Cultural Indicators Project. Although we should believe that his views might be a little far to the right, we should be concerned about the effects of television violence in our culture. Although no definite solutions are given, we should do something about it.


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