Fictionalized violence. Does it cause violence in the real world? Hardly. Does watching Comedy Central make one funny? Of course not. Does watching The Natural make one a star baseball player? Don’t be ridiculous.
In my experience, violence is either a learned or innate behavior. People are either born violent or raised in a violent home. I was raised in a home with no violence. I’ve seen hundreds of violent movies. I’ve played thousands of hours of violent video games. I’ve read hundreds of books containing violence. Despite all of that, the last time I was in a fight was in elementary school. I despise real life violence. It’s pointless. It’s barbaric. It’s animalistic. I do not find entertainment in the likes of UFC, MMA, boxing, or hockey as a lot of people seem to. They love watching violence. They love watching people beat the crap out of each other. I honestly get a little nauseous when I see a fight. I don’t understand how it can ever come to that. I loathe confrontation. Sometimes, though, I understand that it’s unavoidable, but it hasn’t been for me for my entire adult life. To date, anyhow. Throughout human history the one constant has been violence. War. Murder. Rape. If violence on TV is to be blamed for real life violence then what caused violence before there were motion pictures? What caused entire nations to invade and murder citizens of other nations? What caused people such as Jack the Ripper to go on killing sprees? What barbaric programming influenced the likes of Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Hitler?
We are mammals. Mammals, by nature, are violent. While most of us are raised to believe violence is wrong and should be avoided at all costs, others are raised to believe that violence is the very key to solving every dispute. That might makes right. When I was in high school a friend and I were walking through our neighborhood talking when a fight broke out between a couple of young children. One boy’s mother came and broke up the fight. The other boy’s mom was shouting encouragement to her boy from her deck and then threatened to kick the other mom’s ass for breaking up the fight. I have no doubt that the second boy grew up living a life of violence and no amount of TV can be blamed for that. You can’t blame that child’s propensity for violence on TV when his mother, of all people, is encouraging him to fight other children.
I’ve talked at length about my first wife on this blog. She was prone to violence when angry. What I haven’t really ever talked about is her oldest son, who is very mentally ill. Psychotic was the last possible diagnosis he received before the state took custody of him….for sexually assaulting his sister. When he was 11 years old. I can assure you we never let him watch movies rated over PG. He was an extremely violent child, especially when upset. He lost all control and raged fiercely when upset. I can guarantee you that is not caused by anything he saw on TV. We had the police department on speed dial when he lived with us. We obviously couldn’t do anything to him when he got that way without it being considered child abuse so we had to have the police come and detain him until he calmed down. Multiple times per month. No, TV was not an influence there.
So what does violence on TV do? Just what Calvin says it does in the very first picture at the top of the post. It glamorizes violence. It desensitizes us to violence. Helps us tolerate it. Makes us less likely to be empathetic to our fellow human beings. In short, we have gotten used to it and it doesn’t bother us any longer. It absolutely does not, however, cause violence. If it did every person who has ever watched violence on TV would become violent and we’d have total anarchy. Hell, there’d be a riot every time Monday Night Raw came on. Or NCIS. Or American Idol (you know, because that show absolutely sucks). Violent people are going to be violent whether or not they’re sitting in front of a TV watching MacGuyver reruns. Murderers are still going to commit murder whether or not they’ve played the latest Grand Theft Auto game. Rapists are still going to rape whether or not….you know…I’ve seen a lot of movies and shows on TV, but I’ve never seen rape on TV or movie. So TV is definitely off the hook for that. The bottom line is this: people are responsible for their own actions. TV, books, video games, or any other form of violent media does not cause violence. It may lend ideas to those who already have violent tendencies, but it doesn’t cause those people to become violent.
*This week’s post was written for the Weekly Writing Challenge
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