Violent Artistic Expression

What constitutes “violence” and “art” is a subject of cultural construction, conversation, and even contention. Media researchers generally operationalize violence according to levels of aggression, defined as relational (such as defaming, bullying, or isolating—causing social harm), verbal (such as yelling, ridiculing, or threatening—causing psychological harm), and physical (such as hitting, stabbing, or shooting—causing bodily harm) behavior that may be provoked or unprovoked. Scholars such as Nancy Signorelli and George Gerbner have further limited their study of violence to include only overt speech or behavior that threatens or aims to hurt or kill. Definitions focus on action and intention but not aesthetics. This entry discusses how violence is portrayed in various forms of artistic expression and how new technologies have caused changes in violent artistic expression.

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