The Mean World Syndrome
Media Violence & the Cultivation of Fear
A new film based on the late George Gerbner’s groundbreaking analysis of media influence and media violence.
Featuring George Gerbner and Michael Morgan
For years, debates have raged among scholars, politicians, and concerned parents about the effects of media violence on viewers. Too often these debates have descended into simplistic battles between those who claim that media messages directly cause violence and those who argue that activists exaggerate the impact of media exposure altogether. The Mean World Syndrome, based on the groundbreaking work of media scholar George Gerbner, urges us to think about media effects in more nuanced ways. Ranging from Hollywood movies and prime-time dramas to reality programming and the local news, the film examines how media violence forms a pervasive cultural environment that cultivates in heavy viewers, especially, a heightened state of insecurity, exaggerated perceptions of risk and danger, and a fear-driven propensity for hard-line political solutions to social problems. A provocative and accessible introduction to cultivation analysis, media effects research, and the subject of media influence and media violence more generally.