from the wrong dept
Not long ago, I wrote a post about the aftermath of the Oregon mass shooting and how every media outlet would retreat to familiar stances looking to blame all manner of things on idealogical grounds. That, of course, happened. Left out of that post is how grandstanding politicians would do the same: shifting attention toward familiar punching bags while diverting attention from other targets in their own interests. One of the first to do so, as it turns out, is Bobby Jindal, who certainly doesn't get any points for originality in trotting out the violent media scapegoat to sate some of the public's need to place blame for the shooting.
First on his hitlist was Hollywood.
We glorify sick and senseless acts of violence in virtually every element of our pop culture, and we have been doing that for at least a generation. Our movies and TV shows feature a continuous stream of grotesque killing of every kind imaginable. And this is true of virtually every genre, from horror to drama to comedy. We celebrate and document every kind of deviant behavior and we give out awards to producers who can push the envelope as far as possible. Rape, torture, murder, mass murder, all are cinematic achievements.This, obviously, is overstating things by several orders of magnitude. First, it's noteworthy that Jindal's suggestion that violent movies, ever ramping up, cause violence within the real world fly in the face of simple statistical analysis. The national murder rate, for instance, is roughly 60% of what it was in the 1970s. Does anyone want to argue that movies have become less violent since the 70s? I didn't think so. But, assuming that Jindal is solely talking about the mass shooting phenomenon, the data doesn't get any better for Jindal. An otherwise dumb opinion piece at National Review at least helpfully included the fact that, when taking the long view and looking at mass shooting incidents over the past century, they are no more common today than in the past. In fact, the high water mark for mass killings looks to have been achieved in the 1920s. Again, anyone want to argue that media in the 20s was more violent than it is today? I didn't think so.
I shouldn't have to say this, but none of this is to suggest that America doesn't have a very real violence and mass killing problem. We do. But it simply doesn't correlate to violence in movies. Nor in video games, which were Jindal's second target.
We have generations of young boys who were raised on video games where they compete with other young boys around the country and the world to see who can kill the most humans. We make it so fun, so realistic, so sensational.Quick show of hands: who is totally chill with their children watching people get murdered and raped on the internet after school every day? Actually, what the hell is Jindal talking about here? I'm fairly connected in the world of internet-ing, and I'm also a father, and I have no idea what Jindal is referring to. Where is this place where kids go to sit and watch people get raped and tortured? Is he referring to video games here, as he does in his culminating line, where kids are sitting down and super-murdering digital humans for 2 hours every day? Because does that really happen, either? Keep in mind, for all the hand-wringing over violent video games, the average age of the average gamer is going up and currently stands at something like "probably balding or in mid-management by now." For youths that find themselves playing games meant for adults, that's strictly a parenting issue, not a culture issue (for all the reasons described for violent movies above). And, regardless, there's nothing even remotely close to a scientific consensus that violent video games have any negative effect on children at all. In fact, many studies indicate there is no link between gaming and violence at all.
Oh, we make sure that we stop them from bullying at school, but we are completely fine with them watching people get murdered and raped on the internet after school, and we are willing to let them go to the basement and join a fantasy world where they pretend they are killing people for 2 hours after school.
So what is this? Well, it's a politician employing the aftermath of tragedy to gain support, headlines, and attention so as to better compete with a god damned reality show host in a presidential election cycle. And if that doesn't make you sick, no amount of violence in movies or games will either.