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The way in which offenders "extract" fantasy from television, videos and the printed media deserves special attention. While complaints about sexually explicit material in the mass media are familiar, little of the material used by the offenders is indecent, let alone pornographic.

[Page 180]

One of the traditional dichotomies in the mass communications literature is between the direct influence of the media on the audience and the use of the mass media by the audience in ways that "fit in" with their general personal and social values, interests, attitudes, needs and lifestyles (Howitt, 1982). 

A similar distinction seems appropriate about the mass media's influence on fantasy; fantasy may draw from the mass media but is not directly caused by the media. The alternative is that the media put fantasies directly into the minds of individuals. Thus there are at least three ways in which the media might be involved in paedophiliac fantasy: 

(1) As a direct cause of paedophiliac fantasy; 
(2) As a source of imagery to be incorporated into existing fantasies and used by the paedophile; and  

(3) As a cause of sexual arousal. 

The detail of the material that the offenders found stimulating is in many ways bizarre and only fully understandable if we assume that what the offender puts into his experience of the media is important, not just the media's objective content. Brian reported: 

"... you'd see young children getting into bed, or young children undressed naked, there was quite a lot of that on TV, and even simple things like adverts. There is a Comfort advert on at the moment where the young girl is just standing naked and then wrapped in a towel ... you don't get a full frontal shot but like it's enough to start off the imagination. [And that would lead to masturbation] sometimes not always. It depends on how I'm feeling emotionally myself ..." 

Terry reported: 

"[T]here's a really pretty girl in My Two Dads I don't know if you have seen that on telly? It's an American programme ... and there is a 14-year-old girl in there and she is really a pretty girl, and she has got a relatively nice body and she sometimes wears very ... short skirts and sexy clothing, but it doesn't do anything for me. I have never actually had a sexual fantasy about her. ... I have thought about that girl in My Two Dads when I have been masturbating ... she has flashed in and flashed out, and I have pushed her out. ... There was one actually a little while back, she was in ... My Girl and Me ... she was quite stimulating, quite nice, I think. ... She was a schoolgirl in that but she wasn't actually, she was about 17, 18, but she was made up to look like a schoolgirl, I had quite a good time with her." 

[Page 181] 

The information gathered about the role of the media is remarkable. In particular, it illustrates that apparently innocuous material may become incorporated into the fantasy of paedophiles. Walt Disney films, situation comedies and the like were moulded around the psychosexual needs of the paedophile in ways that might be virtually exclusive to him.

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