There are two theories when it comes to extreme content in the media. It comes from the way we process media content and incorporate that content into our lives.
The first is based on social learning. People consuming media products learn behaviors from the media and expect people in real life to react the same. If I watch a romcom and see how a man pursues a woman until she allows him to be a part of her life, I may expect the same in the real world. I may try the same techniques in my relationships with potential romantic partners. At the same time, women in my life may judge my behavior against the fictional stories in their life.
The second is based on catharsis. People consume media products and release aggression or poor behaviors, so they do not have to behave that way in real life. If I recognize the misbehavior in the media as unrealistic, it becomes a safe harbor to experience those things I would never do. I can wat a program like The Purge and enjoy the violence. It does not become a part of my reality because I allowed myself to experience it in fantasy.
How we place the media content which, by definition, is unreal into our reality is essential to how we incorporate the behaviors we learn. It is not a simple process. It depends on the large effects of our culture, personal histories, and expectations from society. Understanding the relationship between the story and reality is essential to understanding media effects.
How do media presentation affect your life?