L. M. Lloyd (ubik@austin.rr.com)
Sat, 9 Sep 2000 18:53:10 -0500


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"Lesley M. Kinzel and Dennis C. Scimeca" wrote:

> It's not a matter of telling fantasy from reality. It is a
> matter of the constant buildup of media images in the psyche of the
> viewer. In the case of young children, who cannot truly understand
> concepts like morality, these violent images have a lasting effect.
> They
> cultivate the idea that violence is acceptable. This is not to say
> that someone who sees violent imagery goes out and kills a bunch of
> people, but it does create a society in which violence is viewed as
> an acceptable means for solving problems.

How, then do you explain that simple fact that violent crime is at an
all time low, and has been declining steadily since the early '70s?
Your entire theory rides on the presupposition that violence has been
increasing in our society, but this is not a supposition borne out by
the crime statistics! Beyond a shadow of a doubt, throughout human
history violence HAS been an acceptable way to solve problems. As
recently as 50 years ago, fighting was considered the "proper" way to
settle matters pertaining to ones personal honor. It seems to me that
if anything, our society has become *less* reliant on violence since
the introduction of television into our society.

> To say that an image-based media has no effect on a person's
> action or behavior is in complete disagreement with a host of
> scientific studies on the influence of media on psychology. Take
> the example of the Fiji islands/eating disorders study done that
> showed no presence of skinny-deal-body-image and anorexia in the
> islands before the introduction of television, and the existence of
> these phenomena no less that 5 years after the mainstream
> introduction of television.

This is a seemingly good argument, yet I ask you: What image-based
media was responsible for the Crusades, or the Spanish Inquisition,
or the eating disorders of the ancient Egyptians and Romans?
Certainly, if a society has never come in contact with a concept,
then it is hard for that concept to effect their society. However,
when you are talking about concepts as old as eating disorders, sex
appeal, violence, and body-image, it is hard to blame them on a
medium as young as television, much less video games. If you are
going to blame anyone for the transmission of these concepts, you
should really be pointing your finger at the first hominid to draw a
cave painting of a symbolic (meaning, by definition, idealized)
hominid. If you are looking for a scapegoat for violence, talk to the
first organism that fed on another organism.

What you are saying, is that we should do away with any form of
communication, for fear that what might be communicated is something
distasteful.

> Well, I agree that you cannot lay sole blame on video games and
> movies and television for child violence, but we have to
> acknowledge that these media are having some effect. How anyone
> can say otherwise after Columbine and the other 17 or so school
> shootings over the past several years, considering the type of
> media consistently reported as being viewed by these assailants.
>

We live in a society that is safer, less violent, less warlike, and
generally less likely to slaughter everyone on the other side of the
hill from us, than ever before in the history of mankind! Yet, you
are saying that there *must* be *something* to the fact that the tiny
handful of our youth that act violently, are all watching the exact
same shows that our well behaved youth watch. You assert that the
fact that 20 violent children played games that sold hundreds of
thousands of copies, therefore *proves* that there is some
correlation.

I think you need to listen to yourself, or more likely reexamine the
politically correct tripe you are parroting back, because the
demonstrable fact is that a miniscule percentage of our society acts
in a violent manner, whereas a vast majority of our population
partakes of the exact media you claim influences violent behavior.
The thing that really cracks me up is that if you look at how violent
our society was before any of these "warping" media were present, you
will find that there has been a dramatic drop in violence since these
media presented themselves. I mean, exactly what TV show told us to
slaughter the American Indians? Was there a first person shooter
running on a Babbage Machine, that warped Hitler into thinking the
Jews were a threat to him? For that matter, if I reverse all the
pinouts on my joystick, so that I am playing Unreal backwards, do I
receive secret messages from the devil?

> The fact of the matter is, as any child developmental
> psychologist could tell you, children cannot make a crystal-clearly
> discern fantasy from reality until the ages of 9-10, but it varies
> based on the
> child. Nonetheless, I can say with a large degree of certainty
> that children below these ages are watching Looney Toons and Tom
> and Jerry long before these ages. You cannot "teach the child
> properly" before the media has impacted on the psyche.
> And this certainly contributes to the "warping" of a child's
> mind.
>

I hate to break it to you, but even if they don't watch any cartoons,
they are going to have dreams before you can adequately explain to
them the difference between fantasy and reality, and those dreams are
going to be affected by what they see in the world around them. Now
here comes the nasty part... PEOPLE REALLY DO DIE! It is not
something that just happens on television. It is not something that
just happens in videogames. They die, they kill, they commit
violence, and they always will. If your kid never sees television,
never reads a book, never reads the newspaper, then their first
experience with violence will be when the first kid at school pushes
them down for their milk money. If you take your kid out of school
and move out to the country, then their first experience with
violence will be when the family dog gets mauled by a bobcat.

There is no getting around it. Violence is part of the world. If you
want to play ostrich and pretend it is not there, except on
television and videogames, then be my guest, but if you don't expect
your kid to stumble across it, you are deluding yourself. See, that
is the part developmental psychologists neglect to tell you: Your kid
can see reality much clearer than you can, because kids don't know
enough to be delusional.

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