'Criminological aesthetics' to 'Cultural distortion': Negative effects of popular films and TV series

Violence of heroes in Joker movie
Due to pandemic Corona Virus, the whole world is passing a stagnant situation with uncertainty. During this quarantine time, to cheer up and passing time, people are watching plethora of popular movies as well as TV series, but these influence them positively as well as negatively.

Why do people watch  films or TV series? Undoubtedly most of the people watch for entertainment, but few of them for academia, research or learning purposes. Alone in USA, there was an estimated 119.9 million TV households in the TV season 2018-19. Watching film or TV series  can have a positive effect on your brain chemistry too.

Research from Oxford University suggests that watching a traumatic film boosts the production of endorphins, a chemical associated with increased pain tolerance and, ironically, feeling good. Movies can help on a psychological level too, to the extent that some therapists now prescribe movies as a form of treatment. Though film has plethora of positive sides, its negative impacts also  undeniable.

In action, crime thriller and commercially popular movies, often action sequence is shown in such an aesthetic way , which creates 'Hyperreality' in our mind and affect us psychologically. After watching action sequence, we often become violent or feel to be violent.

Sometimes unnecessary violence is shown. Do we think how it affects our kids and young generation?  In some cases influenced by crime scene, people are  involving social crime. In 2017, a Delhi University student killed a minor to impress his girlfriend after being inspired by popular TV crime series 'Crime Patrol'. This kind of incident happened in Bangladesh also. Influenced by tv series, last year some mates of the victim tried to kill a 12 years old boy named Arafat in Ishwardi, Pabna.

Revengeful attitude, excessive violence, unnecessary violence of heroes to show heroic grandeur for impressing heroine impact our psychology and we think it is real.  So trying to implement it in real life often create violence.

Negative effects of popular films and TV series

We often see poster of films or graffiti based on films, where most of the cases specially in commercial films sensualness and violence are shown widely. Even we can consider a film as a piece of art. When Criminology is shown in an aesthetic way , its often called ' criminological aesthetics'. Do not these 'criminological aesthetics' impact our psychology negatively?

According  to  Kant,  subjectivity  of  aesthetic  taste  has  direct  relevance  to  the  acceptability or  otherwise  of  certain  anti-social  behaviours.  Following  Kant,  there  can  be  no  agreed  list  of  graffiti  or art  styles  that  are  always  aesthetically  acceptable.  In this case, gunfighting, violence aesthetics can't be acceptable always. It affects our young generation as well as child's psychology and encourage them to be violent.   

Rape scene is a common part in popular films. It affects our society brutally. Statistics says that it is one of the reason of increasing the number of rape cases day by day in our country. Giti Ara Nasreen, a film researcher and teacher of DU says in a interview with BBC that the way rape is represented in films, it doesn't happen only for story line but as a part of pornographic elements and commercial benefits. Watching such nasty scenes again and again make us feel that it's a part of our real life which act as a sensual stimuli.

Cultural distortion is may be the worst effect of films and TV series. Sometimes culture is misrepresented there. Our dress, language, eating habit, behaviour, social norm, morality and so many things are controlled by films. Even, the colonizer invisibly control us via these. Intrusion of foreign culture often destroy our own culture. Lunatic love, extramarital affair, household quarrelling etc. are represented in such a way that influence our society cruelly. 

violence in movie

Often heroes take action again villain in an illegal way and police appear after committing crime. Does not these make a negative stimuli on our society to  be disobeyal to law? 

Do popular films and TV series represent women properly? It's the burning question. Unfortunately for commercial purposes or creating nasty entertainment, often women are represented as a sensual object and inferior to men. Does it necessary to represent rape in almost every film? 

Psychology and emotional states are important aspect for every individual which is often controlled and influenced by films. When obscene, revengeful, traumatic things are shown,  it highly affect our psychology. Even we see suicidal tendency for not getting favourite dresses like Pakhi dress , Kironmala dress during festival.

Above discussions suggest us that films and TV series have strong influence in our society as well as psychology. So producer, sensor board as well as our film industry should be aware about it so that their materialistic thinking will not spoil our culture and society, rather it can take an important role to build up our society.

Amdadul H Sarker
Amdadul H Sarker
Student, Department of English
Comilla University, Bangladesh.

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