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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2018

18. Morality in Entertainment

Helena Bilandzic

Abstract

Media entertainment, while often staged, artificial, unrealistic, fictional, or distant from everyday life, generates and perpetuates moral configurations. How good and bad conduct is portrayed in media, constitutes the “moral imaginary” of entertainment and matters for potential effects on audiences. This chapter reviews research on the moral content of entertainment media, with a specific focus on narratives and television. Stories are often not intended to be moral educators; nonetheless, they show good and bad behavior and characters as well as the enforcement and sanction of norms. The chapter synthesizes studies that explore values, prosocial behaviors and ethical discourse in entertainment and reports research about norm violations and moral transgressions in television content and their narrative context (such as motivation, justification and punishment). The potential for effects on moral thinking and ethical reflection are discussed as well as the recent development in television entertainment that characters and plots become morally ambivalent and complex.

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston