This article has me slightly worried about some things that’ll probably be making more headlines in the coming months:
Washington may take up TV violence
Amid rising criticism of gore, some members of Congress are pushing for action that could include letting the FCC punish broadcasters.By Jim Puzzanghera, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Despite efforts to quell complaints that they air too much death, blood and mayhem, broadcasters are facing a renewed battle over regulating televised violence.
With a fresh Congress sworn in and a major federal report expected soon on TV gore, pressure is likely to mount to more aggressively stem graphic and gratuitous scenes in shows. One proposal would give regulators powers similar to those they have now to punish indecency and coarse language over the airwaves.
In addition, TV violence is shaping up as a 2008 presidential campaign issue with some of the leading potential candidates already at the forefront of the issue. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has long talked about the effect of gory TV shows and video games on children. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) favors allowing families to buy cable channels separately so they can spurn objectionable shows. Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) also have bemoaned TV violence.
“It’s such an easy thing to do, curse Hollywood, curse television,” said Jack Valenti, the former top movie studio lobbyist who is leading an industry initiative to head off government action by teaching parents how to block objectionable TV shows. “It makes headlines…. It looks like they’re doing something and they get political brownie points for it.”
This month, the Parents Television Council stoked the fires by unveiling “Dying to Entertain,” a report that concluded that TV violence had reached epidemic proportions. The media watchdog found that broadcast TV violence rose 75% in six years.
This is one issue where I seem to be out on my own, as both Democratic and Republican parties seem to be able to agree on something. And it’s the one issue where I don’t want them to agree on something.
The way that I see it is this isn’t something that can be solved by regulation alone, if at all. As of now, I have yet to see a paper (from someone besides the Parents Television Council – I’ll get to them in a moment) that can with certainty, link youth violence to violent television programs. Not while there are still issues of parental abuse, problems in public schools, the ease to which youths have access to firearms and other weapons and things of that nature. Same goes for video games. There are headlining articles every now and then about a school shooting and youth violence, and it seems that the one thing that they always have in common are poor parenting and that the kids were big fans of the latest first person shooter game.
This is something that can be solved mainly with education. Not necessarily education at school, but with parents as well. I work at a summer camp, and I see a good number of kids – kids who come from good households and kids who come from ones where the parents just don’t give a shit. The real message is that a television should not be placed in a home where it’ll essentially replace the parent, because then the kid will get ideas. And instead of learning to control his/her/it’s temper, they learn how to take their anger out on something, and don’t learn how to deal with problems at school and things like that.
The Parent’s Television Council – from everything I know about them – a load of idiots. They’re responsible for over 90% of all the lawsuits that are brought to the FCC. Godforbid that someone should hear a bad word after hours or see a little skin because of a mistake or even if it’s not a mistake. And godforbid, that they should travel outside the country and see how other societies work with television. If they went to England and turned on one of the five public channels, I’d bet that they’d have a stroke. Instead of complaining about how the tube is ruining the nation, they would be better off focusing their efforts on informing parents where the ‘off’ button on the television is, and teach parents to set limits for their kids – not banning violence, sex or obesenity from television all together.
While I’m not saying that those things are especially welcome on TV, they do form elements of TV shows, that when used correctly, can drive a good story. Some of the best television out there right now has all those elements in them. Battlestar Galactica, Veronica Mars, Prison Break, Heroes, Stargate SG-1, House MD, LOST, and Supernatural, just to name a few. If I had kids, they definently wouldn’t be allowed to watch a couple of those, and if/when they were allowed, there’d be a good couple of conversations about some of the elements.
Banning violence / suspect behavior is not the right thing to do. Education, hell, even talking to your kids is something that should be pushed or even thought about. Now, ratings and some regulation, such as sticking up a warning before the show, as most of the Fox shows and Battlestar Galactica use at times, that’s something better. Prohibiting sales of really violent games to six year olds? Same thing. But outright banning of something is the same as censoring it.