Antiviolence movement zeroes in on TVBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The recent spate of serial killings and “massacres” in schools and other hitherto “safe” places has triggered a national wave of concern and urgent calls for action and reform across the United States.
Much of the focus has been on limiting access to powerful weapons, so the reforms have met strong opposition from the influential gun lobby, which insists that Americans’ right to bear arms and defend themselves and their families is enshrined in the US Constitution. Still, with no less than President Barack Obama leading the way, the antiviolence movement in the US is fast gaining ground.
In fact, the outcry is so strong that it has prompted American leaders to look beyond weapons, all the way to the general “culture of violence” that they say has compromised and poisoned the American way of life for many years now.
All too logically, they note that much of Americans’ predisposition to violent behavior has been encouraged by the mass media, which expose children to numerous images of blood and mayhem way before they’re emotionally and psychologically ready to place them in the right context.
A lot of the focus has been on the excessive violence found in US movies and TV shows, some of which get young viewers
inured to the negative and tragic effects of violence by exposing them to so much of it.
Worse, violence is made to look attractive, entertaining and “exciting,” thus priming youths to engage in acts of violence in their own lives.
Access to violent films can be limited to some extent by the audience classification system for the movies, but TV violence is more difficult to filter, since the medium reaches all the way into people’s homes!
That’s why parents have been urged to install gadgets that screen what is deemed acceptable viewing fare for young children, especially when they are left alone.
But, violence and pornography on the Internet have presented new problems and challenges that have made parents and educators realize that what is needed isn’t more gadgets and inventions, but a general review and reform of the entire mass pop culture itself!
Naturally, industry people and viewers’ rights groups oppose such reforms on many grounds, but the problem has become so severe that the reformists aren’t giving up the fight.
They point out that some TV network owners themselves prohibit their own very young children from watching television at all, indicating that they’re aware of the medium’s potentially negative effects on young people.
In addition, they chillingly note that, by the time they’re 10 years old, many kids have been exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of acts of violence in the TV shows they watch, making them seem “ordinary” and even “acceptable.”
Aside from television, pop and rock songs have been criticized for making sex and violence sound desirable to young music fans, and “hot” music videos are seen to be adding to the problem by way of their kinetic and seductive images, some of which even make violence look and feel “sexy.”
Since the problem has become so pervasive, some people balk at the major and sweeping reforms needed to improve the situation. But reforms must be fought for and instituted, otherwise the situation will continue to go from worse to worst!
Concerned parents are urged to start in their own homes, determinedly ridding them of pop-cultural images and influences that poison their own children’s minds and psyches, in the name of knee-jerk and irresponsible “entertainment.”
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