Death on the Small Screen: The Psychology of Viewing Violent Television (Paperback)
Mortality remains a taboo topic in much of Western society, but death and violence continue to be staples of popular television. We can better understand the appeal of violence by investigating psychological theories surrounding anxiety about death and the defenses we use to manage that anxiety. This book examines five recent television series--Game of Thrones, The Punisher, Jessica Jones, Sons of Anarchy and Hannibal--and shows how fictional characters' motivations teach viewers about both the constructive and destructive ways we try to deal with our own mortality. Instead of dismissing violent television as harmless entertainment or completely condemning it as a dangerous trigger of hostile behavior, this book shows its effects on viewers in a more nuanced manner. It provides a new perspective on the enjoyment of violent television, enhancing fans' appreciation and sparking ongoing discussions about their value to both the individual and society.
Jonathan F. Bassett, PhD is a professor of psychology at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina, where he teaches courses on death and dying. His research focuses on the application of existential psychology, especially Terror Management Theory, to the analysis of popular culture in the areas of literature, television and movies.