Graphic violence
Graphic violence is the depiction of especially vivid, brutal and realistic acts of violence in visual media such as literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

, film
A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects...

, television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

, and video games. It may be real, simulated live action
Live action
In filmmaking, video production, and other media, the term live action refers to cinematography, videography not produced using animation...

, or animated.

The "graphic" in graphic violence is a synonym for "explicit", referring to the clear and unabashed nature of the violence portrayed; this is what differentiates true graphic violence from lesser forms of violence in media productions, including "cartoon" violence and "fantasy" violence.


Graphic violence generally consists of any clear and uncensored depiction of various violent acts. Commonly included depictions include murder, assault with a deadly weapon, accidents which result in death or severe injury, suicide, and torture. In all cases, it is the explicitness of the violence and the injury inflicted which results in it being labelled "graphic". In fictional depictions, appropriately realistic plot elements are usually included to heighten the sense of realism (i.e. blood effects, prop weapons, CGI
Computer-generated imagery
Computer-generated imagery is the application of the field of computer graphics or, more specifically, 3D computer graphics to special effects in art, video games, films, television programs, commercials, simulators and simulation generally, and printed media...

). In order to qualify for the "graphic" designation, the violence depicted must generally be of a particularly unmitigated and unshielded nature; an example would be a video of a man being shot, bleeding from the wound, and crumpling to the ground.

Graphic violence arouses strong emotions, ranging from titillation and excitement to utter revulsion and even terror, depending on the mindset of the viewer and the method in which it is presented. A certain degree of graphic violence has become de rigueur in adult "action" genre, and it is presented in an amount and manner carefully deliberated to excite the emotions of the target demographic without inducing disgust or revulsion. Even more extreme and grotesque acts of graphic violence (generally revolving around mutilation) are often used in the horror genre in order to inspire even stronger emotions of fear and shock (which the viewing demographic would presumably be seeking).

It is a highly controversial topic. Many believe that exposure to graphic violence leads to desensitization
Desensitization can refer to:* Desensitization * Desensitization * Desensitization * Desensitization of explosives, see Phlegmatized...

 to committing acts of violence in person. It has led to censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 in extreme cases, and regulation in others. One notable case was the creation of the US Entertainment Software Rating Board
Entertainment Software Rating Board
The Entertainment Software Rating Board is a self-regulatory organization that assigns age and content ratings, enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines, and ensures responsible online privacy principles for computer and video games as well as entertainment software in Canada, Mexico and...

 in 1994. Many nations now require varying degrees of approval from television, movie, and software rating boards before a work can be released to the public.


In theatrical performances, films are rated using a motion picture rating system
Motion picture rating system
A motion picture rating system is designated to classify films with regard to suitability for audiences in terms of issues such as sex, violence, substance abuse, profanity, impudence or other types of mature content...

, in part based on the level of graphic violence. Television broadcasts are similarly rated using a television rating system
Television rating system
Television content rating systems give viewers an idea of the suitability of a television program for children or adults. Many countries have their own television rating system and each country's rating process may differ due to local priorities...

. Examples of films featuring graphic violence include: A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange (film)
A Clockwork Orange is a 1971 film adaptation of Anthony Burgess's 1962 novel of the same name. It was written, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick...

, Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver is a 1976 American drama film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Paul Schrader. The film is set in New York City, soon after the Vietnam War. The film stars Robert De Niro and features Jodie Foster, Harvey Keitel, and Cybill Shepherd. The film was nominated for four Academy...

, Goodfellas
Goodfellas is a 1990 American crime film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the 1986 non-fiction book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese...

, Reservoir Dogs
Reservoir Dogs
Reservoir Dogs is an American crime film marking debut of director and writer Quentin Tarantino. It depicts the events before and after a botched diamond heist, but not the heist itself. Reservoir Dogs stars an ensemble cast: Harvey Keitel, Steve Buscemi, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, and...

, Pulp Fiction
Pulp fiction
Pulp fiction may refer to:* pulp magazines, short stories presented in a magazine format, printed on cheaply made wood-pulp paper* Pulp Fiction, a 1994 film directed by Quentin Tarantino...

, the Saw franchise, the Final Destination
Final Destination (film series)
The Final Destination series is a series of horror films based on an unproduced script written by Jeffrey Reddick for the X-Files television series. Distributed by New Line Cinema, all five films are centered on the themes of fatalism, predestination, and precognition, in relation to death...

series, Hostel
Hostels provide budget oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available...

, Natural Born Killers
Natural Born Killers
Natural Born Killers is a 1994 crime/black comedy film directed by Oliver Stone about two victims of traumatic childhoods who became lovers and psychopathic serial killers, and are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media...

, Full Metal Jacket
Full Metal Jacket
Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 war film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. It is an adaptation of the 1979 novel The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford and stars Matthew Modine, Vincent D'Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Arliss Howard and Adam Baldwin. The film follows a platoon of U.S...

, The Thin Red Line
The Thin Red Line (1998 film)
The Thin Red Line is a 1998 American war film which tells a fictional story of United States forces during the Battle of Mount Austen in World War II. It portrays men in: C Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division; in particular those soldiers played by Sean Penn, Jim...

, Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan is a 1998 American war film set during the invasion of Normandy in World War II. It was directed by Steven Spielberg, with a screenplay by Robert Rodat. The film is notable for the intensity of its opening 27 minutes, which depicts the Omaha Beach assault of June 6, 1944....

, Schindler's List
Schindler's List
Schindler's List is a 1993 American film about Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saved the lives of more than a thousand mostly Polish-Jewish refugees during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. The film was directed by Steven Spielberg, and based on the novel Schindler's Ark...

, The Wild Bunch
The Wild Bunch
The Wild Bunch is a 1969 American Western film directed by Sam Peckinpah about an aging outlaw gang on the Texas-Mexico border, trying to exist in the changing "modern" world of 1913...

, Inglourious Basterds, and The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ is a 2004 American drama film directed by Mel Gibson and starring Jim Caviezel as Jesus. It depicts the Passion of Jesus largely according to the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John...


News media

News media
News media
The news media are those elements of the mass media that focus on delivering news to the general public or a target public.These include print media , broadcast news , and more recently the Internet .-Etymology:A medium is a carrier of something...

 on television and online video may cover violent acts. The coverage may be preceded with a warning, stating that the footage may be disturbing to some viewers.

Sometimes graphic images are censored, by blurring or blocking a portion of the image, cutting the violent portions out of an image sequence or by removing certain portions of film footage from viewing. However, more and more throughout the years, it has been a ploy for media companies to attract more and more viewers by trivializing various events like the ones mentioned above for shock appeal.

Video games

Violent content has been a central part of video game controversy
Video game controversy
Violent video game debates often center on topics such as video game graphic violence, sex and sexism, violent and gory scenes, partial or full nudity, portrayal of criminal behavior, racism, and other provocative and objectionable material. Video games have been studied for links to addiction and...

. Because violence in video games is interactive and not passive, critics such as Dave Grossman
Dave Grossman (author)
Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman is an author who has specialized in the study of the psychology of killing, which has been termed 'killology'.In February 1998 Grossman retired from the military as Professor of Military Science at Arkansas State University...

  and Jack Thompson
Jack Thompson (attorney)
John Bruce "Jack" Thompson is an American activist and disbarred attorney, based in Coral Gables, Florida. Thompson is known for his role as an anti-video-game activist, particularly against violence and sex in video games....

 argue that violence in games hardens children to unethical acts, calling first-person shooter
First-person shooter
First-person shooter is a video game genre that centers the gameplay on gun and projectile weapon-based combat through first-person perspective; i.e., the player experiences the action through the eyes of a protagonist. Generally speaking, the first-person shooter shares common traits with other...

 games "murder simulators", although no conclusive evidence has supported this belief.

An example is the display of "gibs" (short for giblets), little bits or giant chunks of internal organs, flesh
In vertebrate animals, flesh is the colloquial for biological tissue which consists of skeletal muscles and fat as opposed to bones, viscera and integuments. Flesh may be used as food, in which case it is called meat....

, and bone
Bones are rigid organs that constitute part of the endoskeleton of vertebrates. They support, and protect the various organs of the body, produce red and white blood cells and store minerals. Bone tissue is a type of dense connective tissue...

, when a character is killed. This was prominently featured in and popularized by games such as Doom, Manhunt
Manhunt (video game)
Manhunt is a stealth game developed by Rockstar Games. It was released to the public on November 18, 2003 for the PlayStation 2 console, and on April 20, 2004 for Xbox and PC. Although it was generally well-received by critics, Manhunt created a controversy due to the graphic violence the player...

, Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat (series)
Mortal Kombat, commonly abbreviated MK, is a science fantasy series of fighting games created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. The first four renditions and their updates were developed by Midway Games and initially released on arcade machines. The arcade titles were later picked up by Acclaim...

and Conker's Bad Fur Day
Conker's Bad Fur Day
Conker's Bad Fur Day is an action-platform video game developed and published by Rare. It was released for the Nintendo 64 in 2001 and was Rare's last game published for the console. The game was in development for four years; it was originally intended for a young audience, but was redesigned and...

, and, more recently, Gears of War
Gears of War
Gears of War is a military science fiction third-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games and published by Microsoft Game Studios...

and Left 4 Dead 2
Left 4 Dead 2
Left 4 Dead 2 is a cooperative first-person shooter video game. It is the sequel to Valve Corporation's award-winning Left 4 Dead. The game launched on November 17, 2009, for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 in the United States and November 20 in Europe; in 2010, Left 4 Dead 2 was made available to...

. Unreal Tournament
Unreal Tournament
Unreal Tournament is a futuristic first-person shooter video game co-developed by Epic Games and Digital Extremes. It was published in 1999 by GT Interactive. Retrospectively, the game has also been referred to as UT99 or UT Classic to differentiate it from its numbered sequels...

included an Instagib game mode wherein a single shot causes the recipient to explode into gibs. Recently, the use of gibs has declined due to the ability to portray more realistic deaths (see also: ragdoll physics
Ragdoll physics
In computer physics engines, ragdoll physics is a type of procedural animation that is often used as a replacement for traditional static death animations.-Introduction:Early video games used manually-created animations for characters' death sequences...


See also

  • Aestheticization of violence
    Aestheticization of violence
    The aestheticization of violence in high culture art or mass media is the depiction of or references to violence in what Indiana University film studies professor Margaret Bruder calls a "stylistically excessive," "significant and sustained way." When violence is depicted in this fashion in films,...

  • Media influence
    Media influence
    Media influence or media effects are used in media studies, psychology, communication theory and sociology to refer to the theories about the ways in which mass media affect how their audiences think and behave....

  • Media violence research
    Media violence research
    Research into the media and violence examines whether links between consuming media violence and subsequent aggressive and violent behavior exists...

  • Motion picture rating system
    Motion picture rating system
    A motion picture rating system is designated to classify films with regard to suitability for audiences in terms of issues such as sex, violence, substance abuse, profanity, impudence or other types of mature content...

  • Snuff film
    Snuff film
    A snuff film is a motion picture genre that depicts the actual death or murder of a person or people, without the aid of special effects, for the express purpose of distribution and entertainment or financial exploitation. For-profit snuff films are generally regarded as an urban legend, whose...

  • Splatter film
    Splatter film
    A splatter film or gore film is a subgenre of horror film that deliberately focuses on graphic portrayals of gore and graphic violence. These films, through the use of special effects and excessive blood and guts, tend to display an overt interest in the vulnerability of the human body and the...

  • Television rating system
    Television rating system
    Television content rating systems give viewers an idea of the suitability of a television program for children or adults. Many countries have their own television rating system and each country's rating process may differ due to local priorities...

  • Violence in the media
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