The Glorification of Violence in Movies: Should we be Concerned?

Glorification of Violence in movies

Violence has been a part of cinema since its very conception. Of late, there have been certain movies like “Animal” and “Kabir Singh” that have been commercial hits despite the aggressive content in them. This raises concerns about the psycho-social impact of viewing such aggressive and violent content. 

Understanding Aggression

Aggression is commonly defined as behaviour intended to cause harm or injury to another individual or object. It can manifest in various forms, including physical violence, verbal hostility, or destructive actions. Psychologically, aggression is often driven by frustration, anger, fear, or the desire to assert dominance. Multiple types of aggression can be seen in movies – here are a few: 

1. Physical Aggression

This type of aggression involves direct physical harm or violence inflicted upon others. It can include fistfights, combat scenes, gunfights, martial arts sequences, and other forms of physical confrontation commonly depicted in action, thriller, and war films. This was seen in ‘Animal.”

2. Sexual Aggression

Sexual aggression involves the use of sexual advances, coercion, or violence to assert power, control, or dominance over another person. It can include scenes depicting sexual assault, harassment, exploitation, or coercion, often portrayed in films addressing themes of gender dynamics, sexuality, and power dynamics. This kind of aggression was seen in “Kabir Singh.”

3. Psychological Aggression

Psychological aggression targets a person’s emotions, beliefs, or mental well-being, aiming to manipulate, control, or undermine them psychologically. This can include emotional manipulation, gaslighting, psychological warfare, and other forms of psychological torment depicted in psychological thrillers, horror films, and dramas. This kind of aggression was seen in  “Drishyam.”

4. Verbal Aggression

Verbal aggression involves using hostile language, insults, threats, or verbal attacks to intimidate, demean, or provoke others. This aggression is often seen in tense dialogue scenes, confrontations between characters, or verbal sparring matches intended to showcase wit or power dynamics. Since language is censored in cinema, this kind of aggression is seen mainly in content on OTT platforms. 

Glorification of Aggression in Cinema

In cinema, glorification refers to portraying certain behaviours, themes, or elements in a highly positive, idealised, or romantic manner. It involves presenting aspects of a story, character, or action in a way that exalts or celebrates them, often emphasising their appeal or desirability to the audience. Glorification can manifest in various forms- Characters who engage in violence are portrayed as heroic, brave, admirable, and “larger than life” despite their aggressive actions. It can also be glorified through the striking visuals, cinematography, intense music and grand visuals- a typical characteristic of action films now a days, which have a trademark characteristic of vehicles flying and getting destroyed during fights. Glorification in cinema is a complex phenomenon that raises ethical, artistic, and social questions. While it can add depth, excitement, and emotional resonance to storytelling, it also risks romanticising harmful or destructive behaviours, perpetuating stereotypes, and desensitising audiences to real-world issues. 

The Psychological Impact of Viewing Aggression in Films

There are several outcomes of viewing violence and aggression. These include: 

1. Desensitisation: Viewing aggressive content can lead to the normalisation of violence and aggression, where there is desensitisation to violence and a lack of empathy for people who have genuinely suffered due to violence and aggression.

2. Fear and Anxiety: While aggression is often depicted as thrilling or exciting in movies, exposure to violent or aggressive content can also evoke feelings of fear, anxiety, and distress among viewers, especially children and individuals who are more sensitive to media influences. 

3. Imitation of Aggressive Behavior: Some research suggests that exposure to aggressive content in movies can lead to the imitation of aggressive behaviours observed on screen. This is particularly true for children and adolescents who may model their behaviour after characters they admire or identify with in movies.

4. Learning faulty ways of conflict resolution: Viewing violence and aggression as ways to solve problems can lead to learning that these are methods to resolve conflicts instead of resorting to communication and negotiation. 

5. Gender Stereotypes and Role Models: Studies have also explored the portrayal of gender stereotypes and role models in movies, particularly regarding the depiction of masculinity, femininity, and gender roles. Aggressive male characters, in particular, may perpetuate stereotypes of male dominance and aggression, influencing audience perceptions of gender norms and behaviour. 

Glorification of violence and aggression has its perils. Hence, viewership requires discretion and critical thinking to prevent cinema from having a more significant impact than it should. It requires responsibility from the viewers, filmmakers, and censor authorities alike to create a cinematic experience that does not hurt the larger society.  


Baron, R. A., & Richardson, D. R. (1994). Human aggression (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Plenum Press. 

Smith, S. L., & Donnerstein, E. (1998). Harmful effects of exposure to media violence: Learning of aggression, emotional desensitisation, and fear. In Human aggression (pp. 167-202). Academic Press. 

Huesmann, L. R. (2005). 12 Imitation and the Effects of Observing Media Violence on Behavior. Perspectives on Imitation: Imitation, human development, and culture, 257. 

Wolf, B. (2013). Gender-based violence and the challenge of visual representation. Comunicació: revista de recerca i d’anàlisi, 193-216.

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