Monday, December 13, 2004

On Media Violence

How many times have you heard this: media violence desensitizes impressionable youth to violence, normalizes its use, and results in more violence in society. This conclusion is often used as an excuse to condemn musicians, directors, comic book artists, game designers, and anyone else whom the busybodies in the media regulation business dislike. Every christmas, for instance, there's a list of the ten worst toys, worst video games, etc.

What utter shite.

The truth is, the amount of media violence seems to be inversely proportional to the actual level of violence in society. My generation, for instance, has been exposed to far more violence in the media than, I think, any generation before. When we were kids, it was He-Man, G.I. Joe, and Transformers. A little later - when I was in my early teens - saw the rise of hyperviolent, gore-soaked comic books. Then came video games, which have only gotten more violent with time. Oh, and metal, which experienced a spike in popularity just about the time I was turning 18, with bands such as Marilyn Manson and Slipknot leading the way, much of it glorifying violence, anger, and flat-out irrational hatred to a degree never before seen in music.

My generation also happens to have been raised with historically low levels of actual violence in our lives. Zero-tolerance policies at high schools, for instance, meant that even an innocent scuffle in the schoolyard could result in expulsion. Many of us had ex-hippie parents convinced that the testosterone-fueled escapades of growing males were the source of all evil, and did everything in their power to squash their childrens' natural desire for rough-and-tumble play.

Is it any wonder we salivated over Thundercats, bought Image comics by the truckload, and damn near shat ourselves with glee when upon discovering doom? That Fight Club is on every red-blooded male's list of 'best movie of the 90's'?

People don't seek out a reflection of their lives in media; rather, the look for those things which their lives lack entirely. Remove violence from everyday life, and it will express itself in art.

The fact that our media gets more violent with every increasing year should be taken not as a condemnation of depraved artists and debased content corporations, but as a ringing endorsement for the success at our society.


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