April 23, 2007
Collaboration 2.0: Henry Jenkins and Media Violence

The opening session on Saturday morning for the Convergence Culture Consortium's Collaboration 2.0 was presented by Dr. Henry Jenkins, the director of the consortium here at MIT, who talked about media violence and media effects theory in relation to the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech.

For those not familiar with Henry's work, he is the director of the Comparative Media Studies program here at MIT and is the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities. He is the author of Convergence Culture, as well as Textual Poachers, Hop on Pop, From Barbie to Mortal Kombat, Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers, and The Wow Climax.

According to his biography, Jenkins

plays a significant role as a public advocate for fans, gamers, and bloggers: testifying before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee investigation into "Marketing Violence to Youth" following the Columbine shootings; advocating for media literacy education before the Federal Communications Commission; calling for a more consumer-oriented approach to intellectual property at a closed door meeting of the governing body of the World Economic Forum; signing amicus briefs in opposition to games censorship; and regularly speaking to the press and other media about aspects of media change and popular culture.

His talk at Collaboration 2.0 draws on that work, applying it to this tragedy and the public and media responses to acts of violence such as happened at Virginia Tech.

Jenkins will likely be writing in response to the shooting on his blog in the next few days, based on some of the research he has put together for his presentation here at the consortium. In the meantime, the following is one his prior posts on his blog about media effects research, called Slamming Media Effects and looking at media effects in relation to the world of professional wrestling.

This post is particularly relevant to the current discussion since the Associated Press piece about the Viriginia Tech piece explicitly mentioned that, among the many TV shows Cho Seung-Hui watched was "Friday night wrestling." (Another article later said that he watched a significant amount of Spike TV, so "Friday night wrestling" ended up not being the only specific content not singled out by the media.)