The vast majority of parents, pediatricians and media researchers all believe that violent movies, video games and television shows can lead to increased aggression in children, according to a new study published in the journal, Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
Screen violence remains a big hit with the public, despite calls for the entertainment industry to tone it down in the aftermath of the mass shootings at Aurora, Colo., Newtown, Conn, and elsewhere in the U.S. during the last 12 months.
As the Senate inches closer to considering a bipartisan proposal to expand gun background checks, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is offering to add his bill on the study of media violence as an amendment.
What strikes me about the arguments of gun advocates is how similar they are to the ones that I and other free speech advocates regularly make. For instance, they say the answer to too much gun violence is more guns. We say the answer to false, hateful and pernicious speech is more speech. Maybe you just can’t cherry pick the Bill of Rights.
Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, says his Violent Content Research Act would authorize the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent content, including video games and video programming, on children.
Jim Tuthill, attorney and UC Berkeley School of Law lecturer: “Our debate about how to reduce gun violence in our country has focused almost entirely on gun control since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. And that’s appropriate. But another critical element almost has been ignored: the harmful effect of violence in the media. Even more surprising is that the federal agency with knowledge of these effects has been mute on the subject.”
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is not giving up and plans to reintroduce his bill that calls for the National Academy of Sciences to study the impact of violent video games and programming on children. And now that he’s announced he will not seek re-election in 2014, the chairman of the Commerce Committee has nothing to lose by pursuing an aggressive agenda.
President Obama’s plans for curbing gun violence announced Wednesday did not suggest any connection between bloody entertainment fictions and real-life violence. Instead, the White House is calling on research on the effect of media and video games on gun violence.
As a media critic, I will limit myself to the disingenuous attack on the media from NRA VP Wayne LaPierre. Of course, it’s a shameless attempt to avoid accepting any responsibility by his organization. But in the interest of a sane discussion about media violence — rather than the demagogued, crazy-right-wing-paranoid speechifying of LaPierre — some social science research, facts and context need to be presented.
The National Rifle Association broke its silence today on last week’s shooting rampage at a Connecticut elementary school. The group’s top lobbyist, Wayne LaPierre blamed video games, movies and music videos for exposing children to a violent culture day in and day out. “In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty right into our homes,” he said.
Hollywood often scours its product output to appear sensitive when a tragic event dominates the news, and makes adjustments like adding disclaimers. To date, there’s been no evidence of a network pulling the plug entirely on a series because of violent content in the wake of Newtown. While gun control and problems with the mental health system have grabbed the most attention as ways to prevent further incidents, the level of violence in entertainment has been mentioned, too. There have been unconfirmed reports that gunman Adam Lanza was a video game devotee.
It’s interesting that so little of the outrage over the Aurora killings has been directed at the media. The national conversation about how this could happen and how can it be prevented from happening again has been mostly about guns. That’s in marked contrast to the aftermath of the Columbine killings 13 years ago. Perhaps it’s because broadcasting — the medium most easily regulated and most scrutinized — is not so violent anymore. Or perhaps it’s the nation’s acceptance that such shootings, whatever the reason or reasons, are now an inextricable part of our society