Can media effect reality in a negative matter?

You know, kinda like how Jaws cause people to more scared of sharks, and how fight club cause a rise in underground fight clubs exist. Why did these things happen if media can’t effect reality? I think I already know, but I want a opinion from you guys.

I think it can, but that’s not really the fiction’s fault, so much as the mindsets of those who allow fantasy to control them as such.

For the Jaws example, while it did lead to people becoming more violent towards sharks, the creator admitted they wished they never wrote the thing. They didn’t want their audience to start attacking sharks, the audience interpreted it that way.

Same with the Slenderman Mythos… The people who made those were just creating the stories for entertainment, then those two girls thought it was real and tried to kill their classmate as a tribute to a fictional character. The person who came up with the very first iteration of Slenderman outright said he didn’t want anyone trying such things and was disgusted that something he made years ago could lead to something like that.

In truth, the people who allow fiction to control them this much probably had issues with understanding reality from fiction. In a stable, sane adult, this wouldn’t be an issue. But in children (Slenderman stabbing) and fearful adults (Jaws), they can’t… They’re the issue, not the media they’re watching. Certain video games and violent movies were linked to murders, but the creators weren’t trying to get people to reenact the events of their stories, so much as mentally unstable people got ahold of it and tried to act it out.

So yes, it can… But the people it usually does this to tend to have issues (or are too young to understand the difference between reality and fiction).

If the media says “Sharks are killers” or “Punch each other is OK and fun” even in fiction, that has an effect in real life. But since I suspect that you are trying to compare this with things like lolicon, let me tell you the fundamental difference between those things: Lolicon doesn’t tell people that sex with children is Ok. A better comparison would be with violence in games, like GTA or so. In GTA you can kill and rob people, you can make chaos in the street and etc. But science proves that games like that don’t increase the chance of people do that in real life. And is for the same reason that lolicon doesn’t increase the chance of abuse in real life. Because those media doesn’t say to the consumer that those things are “Ok” to do in real life. On the contrary, the “message” in those things are: “Play with me, and not to your life”.

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Well… in those specific examples, it didn’t.

People have always been wary of large, carnivorous fish that can eat you and illegal/unregulated underground bare knuckle fight scenes have always been around.

People attribute sudden rises in awareness of these things to these movies because that’s merely a concept being brought into the spotlight that is the mainstream.
It’s perfectly reasonable to be afraid of sharks with or without watching Jaws and I have no recollection of any underground fight clubs that started as a result of people watching Fight Club and going “hey! that looks fun! let’s do that!”.

This isn’t to say that people aren’t influenced or driven by what they see/hear/read in movies or media. But there exists a degree of separation between extremes, capitalized and understood by the level of risk, consequence, etc.
There’s zero conclusive evidence that negative actions, attitudes, or ideas presented, even in a positive light, cause or drive people to imitate or commit those real-world equivalents, such as child abuse, rape, murder, etc.

The causal link between these types of things is often heavily contested and debated between scholars, but the bottom line is that there lacks an empirical consensus in this regard for a reason.

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