Hey! Where are your kids right now?! In front of a television?! Oh lordy NO!!!! You have to stop them before it sucks out their brains and replaces them with brains of serial killers!!! Or not. A bit dramatic, but that seems to be what certain "concerned" citizens and possibly biassed politicians would have you believe. Violent video games, movies, and television shows have the finger of blame pointed squarely at them whenever a shooting tragedy occurs in a school or even when kids get into fights with other kids. Obviously, there are things all over the place in every aspect of society that can influence children and really people of all ages. And also one would hope its obvious that there is a certain responsibility of the parents to instill and explain the differences between those movies, video games, etc. and the real world to their kids. This argument has gone on for years and years though. So, how do we prove one side or the other?
Well, I think it might be time to look to our entertainment of the past. To my knowledge, John Wayne starred in the leading role of more movies than any other hollywood star.... ever. Now, I'm not a hundred percent certain on that number, but I did do some research and I have never seen an actor with more starring credits to his or her name. Don't believe me, look it up. If you go to a site like wikipedia, you'll have to go to a separate page to find John Wayne's filmography. In fact, it's been a while since I looked, but I'm pretty sure they even had to separate it into two sections even after putting it on a different page. So, why am I telling you this? Because John Wayne really only did one kind of movie in his carreer and that was violent. Now, don't get me wrong. There were important things like morals and romantic plots and there was acting. I'm not saying John Wayne couldn't act. I'm just saying that whether he was playing a cowboy, a green beret, or an ex boxing pro who moved to Ireland to get away from violence, there was pretty much always some form of violence in his movies. He was a role model to kids if ever there was one. Yet, you didn't see school shootings, suicides, or any of the like on the scale we see these days, did you? Now, the reasons for that could be several. For one thing, news has never travelled as quickly as it can today thanks to the internet, cell phones, etc. So, maybe these things have always happened, but we just didn't know before. But I doubt it. Some people will say that games and movies and such are just more graphic today and give kids ideas.
To that, I point to what are still probably some of the scariest movies and television shows ever.... "The Birds", "The Exorcist", "The Twilight Zone", "Alfred Hitchcock Presents". These are all examples of scary as crap entertainment and all were made before the 1980s AND none of them were graphic by today's standards. So, we have more people seeing movies and getting exposed to this type of thing now, right? Well, maybe that's because there are more people in general. One of the interesting things you can do if you look up movie boxoffice records is look for adjusted gross, because ticket prices were a lot different in say the 1940s than the 2000s. If we saw the numbers of the original Star Wars movies at today's prices, maybe the Twilight movies along with quite a few others wouldn't look so impressive. Another thing to think about though is viewing public as a percentage. The population in the United States alone has more than doubled since the 1950s. The moon landing was the most watched thing on television in history at the time of its original broadcast at an estimated 600 million viewers and that record took fourteen years to break. That was in the late sixties and it probably included close to every television set in the world at the time. And back then, there wasn't a television in every home. Now, there are somewhere around seven BILLION people in the world and I don't have an exact number for how many of those have television sets or some type of media watching device, but you have to assume its at least twice the previous number. Yet we have so many options on so many channels and so much going on that you will never see the same types of ratings from a percentage standpoint that something like the moon landing or even "I love Lucy" got when they were first on the air.
The point here is that people were watching back in the day. They were probably watching more than a lot of us do now. I know people who don't go to movies and don't even have cable, because they have a computer. At this point, there is absolutely no way to completely shelter children or really much of anyone from violence in some form of media short of taking them to an Amish community to raise them or out into the woods to be a hermit or something of that nature. Its out there and they're going to see it. And it will influence them, but that doesn't mean they will turn into psychopathic lunatics, because of what they watched.... Speaking of which, remember that old movie, "Psycho"? That was quite a while back and a lot of people saw that movie. Yet, I've been to my share of hotels and I've never run into a Norman Bates yet. Not that I'm aware of anyway.
What I'm trying to say with this article is simply that modern media isn't all that new. It's more high tech maybe. It's prettier some times. It's uglier others. But the ideas aren't really ground breaking and new. Just take a look at how many sequels are coming out this year if you doubt that . And remakes of the old classics. If anything, Hollywood is trying to capitalise on the past, not leave it behind. And in the past, we didn't have these headaches. We had people who knew the difference between a movie and reality. That is the truth of violence in modern media. I for one am still a big fan of super heroes, video games, action movies, and some nice exploding cars here and there in my movies.