Posted by: joshjasper | December 29, 2012

Killing Us Softly

I was driving home after giving a presentation on the effects of media violence recently when Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” came on the radio, remade by The Fugees.  I’m not sure what they intended with that song, but for me, it spoke perfectly to what is going on in our society with media violence.  I had just spent the last two hours talking about violent video games, music, television, movies, and the internet.  I explained how the exposure to media violence desensitizes all of us; how violence becomes normalized.  Afterwards, many of the audience members wanted to quickly make the case that violent video games and television were to blame for the massacre that took place in Newtown.  It’s just not that simple, I explained.  Something quite sinister is going on though, that much is for sure.

When I talk about how we prevent further exposure to violent video games, I don’t ask students to gather up their X-Box 360’s and Playstation’s so that we can burn them all in the campus parking lot.  The 100+ billion dollar video game industry is here to stay.  We are always going to have the CSI and Law & Order type of television shows that continue to sensationalize violence.  Sylvester Stallone will probably make another Expendables movie or may even surprise us all with a fifth installment of Rambo.  One person is not going to influence these very powerful industries, but that does not mean that we can’t make a difference.

Instead, our focus must be on the conversations that we need to start having with the consumers of these games, music, and television shows.  Those conversations simply are not happening with children and adults.  Forbes magazine recently printed an article reporting that the newly released Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 video game earned more than 500 million dollars in the first 24 hours of this game’s release.  500 million dollars in 24 hours!  What does it mean when what is considered to be the most violent video game also makes the most money, and how are we impacted by this?

Parents need to begin explaining to their children that these games are not real.  In real life, your actions have consequences.  Additionally, if parents witness their children playing violent video games or watching violent television shows and movies, this is a great opportunity to have a conversation about your respective values.  Children (and adults) are looking for role models, and if they are not getting them in real life, they are going to seek them out within our entertainment industry; an industry that earns billions of dollars inundating us with violence…killing us softly.

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