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The Dark Side of Media and Technology

A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy

Edited By Edward Downs

The Dark Side of Media and Technology: A 21st Century Guide to Media and Technological Literacy is Herculean in its effort to survey for landmines in a rapidly changing media landscape. The book identifies four dark outcomes related to media and technology use in the 21st century, and balances the dark side with four points of light that are the keys to taking ownership of a media- and technology-saturated world. The text contains an impressive list of multi-disciplinary experts and cutting-edge researchers who approach 25 separate dark side issues with concise, highly readable chapters, replete with unique recommendations for navigating our mediated present and future.

The Dark Side of Media and Technology is grounded in theory and current research, but possesses an appeal similar to a page-turning dystopian novel; as a result, this volume should be of interest to scholars, students, and curious lay-readers alike. It should be the "go-to" text for anyone who is interested in learning what the research says about how we use media and technology, as well as how media and technology use us.

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Chapter Nine: The Bad Guys: Evil and Immorality in Media Entertainment (Mary Beth Oliver / Arienne Ferchaud)


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The Bad Guys

Evil and Immorality in Media Entertainment


From ancient Greek writings to Shakespearean dramas to comic books to motion pictures—heroes and protagonists have formed the basis of entertainment throughout history, with audiences experiencing deep admiration and inspiration in response to portrayals of their beloved characters. But just as we relish cheering on our heroes, we also seem to take delight in believable and formidable villains who strike terror into the hearts of fictional characters and audiences alike. Freddy Kruger, the Wicked Witch of the West, Slender Man, and Darth Vader not only represent some of our deepest fears, but they also seem to elicit a fascination that keeps us returning to their evil clutches again and again. In short, the study of media entertainment would not be complete without a recognition of the importance of both “good guys” and “bad guys.” This chapter focuses on evil and immoral characters in media entertainment. We first consider prototypical traits associated with media villains, and then turn our attention to how they function in audience enjoyment of narrative. We then turn our attention to accounts of individuals’ attraction to media villains, including both individual differences that may be consequential, as well as media portrayals and contexts that may heighten audiences’ attraction to the “dark side” of media characters. Finally, we end our chapter by considering possible effects of media...

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