Censorship on Television Violence Facts and Information
Overexposure to graphically violent movies, video games, and even music lyrics is commonplace today. This has become a major issue in today's society in lieu of all the recent school violence. The major concern of parents and legislature is the effect the violence in the media has on children. Does life imitate art or art imitate life? Ultimately, the parents are responsible for their children's upbringing. Parents not the government should decide what is proper and improper for their children. Passing this responsibility on to the government imposes more controls on everyone's lives. Censorship leads to ignorance. Censorship is the method of which totalitarian governments come into power. It threatens the very essence of the American spirit, which can be summed up in three words: Freedom of Speech.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." (http://serendipity.magnet.ch/cda.html)
Exposure to graphically violent movies has increased over the last one hundred years of cinema. Movies have always had a degree of violence but today violence in the media is much more graphic. In the beginning of cinema, movies were black and white. The guts and gore were not very realistic looking. Today, movies are very real. Violence scenes are portrayed in detail. Often these scenes are portrayed positively, where the hero is a bad guy. For example, "Bonnie and Clyde" came out in the early 1970's. This movie portrayed Bonnie and Clyde as being heroes, when in fact they were vicious killers. The viewer actually feels sorrow when Bonnie and Clyde meet their demise. Art imitates life. This movie was at the beginning of the graphical revolution. The graphics of this time period were not so vivid and life-life. The camera stepped back a few feet and allowed room for the imagination.
Overexposure to violence is also evident video game violence and violence in music lyrics are commonplace. Video games are interactive and becoming more realistic. They allow the player to portray a character and act out the game. Video Game Violence is common. Often the video games objective is to kill as many of the "enemy" as possible before the "enemy" kills the player.
Censorship: Music lyrics
Music is a powerful media. The music lyrics of songs can influence listeners. The music lyrics of 1970's advocated universal peace, love, and the use of illegal drugs influencing a whole generation.
"If you smile at me I will understand cause that is something everyone does in the same language." "If you smile at me I will understand cause that is something everyone does in the same language." (Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Wooden ships)
"One pill makes you smaller, ... and the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all ... go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall" "One pill makes you smaller, ... and the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all ... go ask Alice when she's ten feet tall" (Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit)
Much of the music of the 1990's and 2000 is a complete reversal of the music of the 1970's.
"Ya'; act like you never seen a white person before jaws all on the floor like Pam like Tommy just burst in the room and started whoopin her_ worse than before they first get divorced throwing her over furniture (scream) ... Dr. Dre said nothing you idiots ... Dr Dre's dead, he's locked in my basement." (The Real Slim Shady, http:www.eminem world.com/mmlp*html)
"*Violence is often rewarded and seldom has negative consequences. According to the 1992 National Television Violence Study by Media scope, perpetrators go unpunished in 73 percent of all television violence.
*Violence is everywhere. Slab tells the story of a preschooler who was informed of the death of her friend's father. "Who killed him?" she asked. Her question reflected the assumption, drawn from exposure to television violence that violence was the normal cause of death.
*Violence is justified. The "hero" of the show commits much of the violence on television. The National Television Violence Study found that aggression by " good guys" is rarely punished; even "bad guys" are punished only 62 percent of the time. Power Ranger, like countless war movies, teaches that violence by " good guys: is not only justified but also heroic.
*Violence is funny. Laugh tracks in shows like the Three Stooges often follow actions like whacking someone over the head. Children's cartoons are especially likely to present violence as funny.
*Violence is pleasurable. Clint Eastwood, in Dirty Harry, finds violence so enjoyable that he encourages people to provoke him - a violent act would "make my day." (http://www.4children.org/new/1-97toxl.htm)
Children and Television Violence
The recent school violence has brought much attention to the abhorrent use of violence in movies and other media. The children who committed the shooting at the schools were exposed to violence in much the same way every child in the world is exposed, movies, television, video games, and music lyrics. The argument for censorship on television violence is that exposure to television violence has influenced children to commit violent acts. When I was in high school, I did a Psychology project on television violence and the effect on children. I went to a 3rd grade classroom and asked the children what television cartoons they watched. In addition, I asked the teacher to rank each child on how aggressive they were. Then I watched the cartoons and ranked them according to the violent content. The outcome was no surprise. The children with the most aggression watched the most television violence via cartoons. The one child who had no television was the least aggressive. Life imitates art.
"Our kids have been carefully taught - by toy guns as big as bazookas; by movies and TV with shooting after shooting, killing after killing; by song lyrics advocating violence; by computer and arcade games where a kid wins by killing; by seeing on the news our country bombing and killing in Kosovo to stop another country from shooting and killing its own.
So let not the commentators say, "Everyone's wondering why, why, why?" The kids who shoot have been carefully taught; that's why."(http://olive-live.webnet.advance.net/oped/99/04/ed042213.html)
Some Media Violence is Justified
However, some stories cannot be told without the graphical violence. Violence gives essential impact to historical tales such as Gladiator and Saving Private Ryan. Gladiator was a story reflecting the violence of ancient times. The legacy of the Roman Empire is one of violence, cruelty, and injustice. Conquest was how they ruled and violence was how they conquered. The story could not have been told without the addition of violence. Saving Private Ryan is a story that had to be told. Many young people have forgotten the sacrifices made for their freedom. The violence was necessary to demonstrate the horrors of war and to demonstrate the sacrifice veterans made for America's freedom, particularly freedom of speech. After viewing Saving Private Ryan many walked away with a newfound respect for the aging World War ii population. The movie helped spur the movement for the long overdue monument for the veterans who served in that war. It is soon to be erected in Washington, D.C. The violence portrayed in these movies was a necessary part of the stories. It was both controlled and contained in both tales. The movies both had R ratings. Parents knew there was violence in these movies by the title and the rating. If they did not want their children to see the movies then they did not have to take them to see them. Parents can exercise control if they just would. Movie producers have a responsibility to the public to portray violence in the right way. Violence is a part of history to leave it out would be to rewrite history.
Censorship and where does it end?
If government is able to censor, where does it begin or end? Who decides what is appropriate and what is not? The Bible has numerous stories of mass killings. Samson and the Philistines is an example. Most religions were born in violence and have many stories containing violence in the context of their religious books. To censor violence would censor religion. Freedom of Speech is the key to all American rights. Censorship would be the same thing as eliminating freedom one step at a time. Government would have the power to dictate what is said or not said at religious gathering, ball games, and where any groups of people assemble. It could even infringe on the right to assemble. Censorship threatens the American way of life.
Censorship in the Media is a Parental Responsibility
Parents are responsible for their children's upbringing. Parents, not the government should decide what is proper and improper for their children. There are controls in effect now. These controls are called ratings. They can work if parents take the ratings seriously and enforce them. Children have gotten the upper hand in our society. Parents let the children make the decision what to view, play, and listen to. Many times children are "dropped off" at the movies, and are free to sneak into the R rated movies. Children get their parents to buy or rent movies, video games, or music CD's that are clearly marked violent content, parental discretion advised. Another problem to consider in this overall issue is both parents work. This leaves children at home without any parental supervision. Children are free to do as they please. A solution to this problem would be to return to a society where one parent stayed at home to mind the children. This would mean providing a livable wage for all.
Book banning and totalitarian governments
Passing censorship to the government imposes more controls on everyone's lives. Censorship leads to ignorance. Censorship is the method of which totalitarian governments gain power. When the Nazis in Germany were rising to power the first thing they did was establish censorship. The Nazis had book bonfires in which they burned Jewish literature, and any other material they deemed subversive. Hitler decided what was appropriate for the masses to read and what was not. Thousands were killed for expressing opinions against the Nazi regime. In communist Russia under Stalin, millions were killed for the same reason. Censorship is a part of totalitarian governments. Freedom to think and speak as one chooses is the enemy of totalitarianism.
Overexposure to violence in the media, video game violence, and even violence in music lyrics is commonplace. This has become a major issue in today's society. There is strong evidence that television violence does affect children. Does life imitate art or art imitate life? Ultimately, the parents are responsible for their children's upbringing. Parents can and should enforce censorship within their own domain. However, government censorship threatens the American spirit. In essence, the American spirit is freedom of speech.