Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Wish for a Moratorium on TV Violence

Back in the oh-so-naive 70's I wrote a term paper in college called "The Effect of Television Violence on Children." The findings were remarkable, chilling and irrefutable. Children who were exposed to more violence on TV were 1) less likely to react as profoundly to violence when they saw it again and 2) were FAR more likely to act out violent acts on the playground with other children. I remember writing to network executives at the time, receiving no response to speak of, and being told by well-meaning people to blow it off– violent TV got higher ratings, no use fighting it, "if you don't like what's on TV read a book", etc., etc.

Today the world we're living is SO much more violent than when I was a kid, network TV today is almost wall-to-wall crime shows, and the graphicness of the violence shown has reached horror show proportions—buckets of blood, dismemberments, intense and lingering close-ups of things I don't want to see. I have flashbacks to horror scenes I saw on TV weeks later sometimes. Scenes that cause post-traumatic stress disorder to the average person when it happens in real life, things real firemen and policemen wish they had never seen, things normal people require counseling for, are what we're shown for "entertainment" hour after hour, night after night.

Why?! Why are we doing this to ourselves?! And why are those of us who are becoming so aware of the power of our thoughts (you know, the Power of Attraction, "Secret"-lovers) are so willing to be silent about the influence of what we're allowing corporate executives to put into our society's collective heads? I don't care that I can shut the TV off. I care that my neighbors down the street with the big vicious dogs and their stash of guns under their beds are not. I care that kids have been seeing such violent images for so many years that movies that made me scream as a child strike them as boring. I worry about what it means that TV executives think they need to up the violence ante each season in order to keep the public's interest in their programming.

It's like drug addiction. Oops, this dosage doesn't supply the agreed-upon high, better use some more. We all KNOW this doesn't bode well. But nobody says anything. Nobody does anything. "Just turn the TV off."

That's my answer part of the time. Tonight, for instance, I'm writing in this online diary and will probably hit send and broadcast my thoughts who knows where. I've been known to write books, do artwork, play musical instruments and do all kinds of things. But later this week I'm probably going to want to watch a little TV. And there it's going to be again. Such and such a crime show with the cute repartee between the actors that just amuses me and draws me in. Sometimes I really like to put my feet up and enjoy an evening at home with my boyfriend, housemate and cats watching TV together. I just wish there wasn't such a high price to pay.

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