Monday, January 28, 2013

Does Television Encourage Killing?

I'm confused. There has been a lot of talk lately about the violence in computer games and whether or not that is generating murderous behavior. I don't play the kind of computer games that are under scrutiny but, after seeing a news story about combat computer games the other night, I couldn't help but wonder if computer gaming was the only problem. That news story was followed by a trailer for American Asylum.  The trailer graphically showed people being tortured. And that's hardly the only truly violent program.  How about Kevin Bacon's new series?  The trailers for that made my skin crawl.

Is violence on television less harmful than that depicted in computer games? Is there less impact because we don't "pull" the trigger ourselves?

It appears that many of our mass killers are teens and young adults.  We already know that by playing computers they develop incredible hand-eye coordination. But what else is created by those hours of "practice?" Perhaps a deadened sense of remorse or compassion? And does that apply to television? 

If we produce and promote violent television, are we somehow giving approval to the kind of behavior depicted in the programming? Are we saying that is OK because we depict killers who get away with it?

Since Cain killed Abel, humans have killed one another. I don't know many soldiers or law enforcement officers who felt good about killing, even when it was truly justified. Usually there were grave consequences, both moral and legal, to killing. What are the results when that isn't shown to happen? If the viewer does not see consequence to killing, what prevents that person from doing it themselves?

Does violence on television beget violence in real life? Or does it merely reflect the kind of society we've become? It's an old argument. Perhaps, at some point, it doesn't make any difference because it is a "chicken or the egg" situation.

So let's go ahead and have the discussion about computer games. But let's not ignore the elephant in the room - television.

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