Thursday, January 24, 2013

Opinion: Entertainment industry has blood on its hands

From: Melissa Henson -

It looks like Big Entertainment gets a pass again. After Vice President Joe Biden’s “fact finding” meetings in recent weeks with representatives of the entertainment industry to evaluate what can be done to change America’s culture of violence, the most this administration is willing to push for is more research into the link between media violence and violence in the real world.

More information is always beneficial, but at what point do we decide we know enough to move forward in a meaningful way? After all, we already have more than 60 years of research on the link between media violence and aggression and more than 3,000 studies, dozens of which focus specifically on violent video games. The consensus of the medical community is and has been that viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behaviors, particularly in children.

In fact, a position paper by the American Psychiatric Association on media violence begins by declaring: “The debate is over.”

So why do we need more studies?

In the days following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School came the announcements that violent movies scheduled for release would be pushed back. Episodes of TV shows were pulled from the schedule out of sensitivity to the families affected by the tragedy and to a nation in mourning. Perhaps, also, it was a tacit admission that violent entertainment negatively affects culture.

But why is Hollywood concerned about the potential impact of violent media content only in the wake of such tragedy? And why is it only temporary? The answer isn’t to delay release of films that glorify violence but to stop making them. It’s not to pull episodes of “Family Guy” and “American Dad” (only to air them a week later), but to reevaluate the messages they communicate to kids every day.
Because let’s face it … we’ve seen this happen before.

After Columbine, shows were yanked from the schedule, movie releases were delayed, celebrities made their public mea culpas. We had congressional hearings during which executives from the film, television and video game industries promised to change business as usual. CBS President Les Moonves even said, “Anyone who thinks the media has nothing to do with [the bloodshed] is an idiot.”

But in Hollywood, talk is cheap and there is a fortune to be made by producing and distributing ever-more graphic, ever-more gruesome and ever-more grotesque violence. As the nation’s focus shifted beyond Columbine, Hollywood got back to business and the violence came creeping back — this time in greater quantity and degree than ever before. “Not our fault” was its response. “Blame the parents.”

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