Wednesday, June 29, 2022


December 20, 2012 by · 2 Comments 


Even before we record our first memories, we are entertained by images of violence. (“When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all.”) And few have ever challenged the Bible’s account, taught to a large majority of American children, of God killing off all the first-born children of the Egyptians. Centuries of psychoanalysis have failed to provide conclusive validation of the theory that exposure to such lore produces violent individuals. Yet there remains the nagging suspicion that if entertainment can influence us to buy products or speak in a certain way or smoke cigarettes, it can also influence us to imitate the violence we see on our screens or read about in our books or hear about in our music. And so, in the aftermath of the Newtown, CT school shooting, broadcast and television executives and motion picture producers have been scrambling to remove material that could subject them to public censure. Today’s (Thursday) New York Times observed that the public’s reaction to the incident “has been so strong that many movie studios and television networks have been forced to make more changes to their publicity campaigns and nightly lineups than first anticipated.” Premieres of movies with violent scenes have been canceled; episodes of television shows, even some including comic violence, have been replaced. Discovery Channel announced on Wednesday that it had canceled two TV series, Ted Nugent’s Gun Crazy and American Guns. But Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center for the Study of Entertainment and Society at the University of Southern California, told the Times: “Violence is both a moneymaker — audiences love it — and an artist’s tool. Of course, it can be gratuitous. For every Scorsese or Peckinpah, there’s a schlockmeister who’s only in it for the dough. But who do we want to empower to decide whether Quentin Tarantino or a Grand Theft Auto goes over the line? The government? The industry? Or the audience, which is where Hollywood wants to put the control.”