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Are Parents Responsible for Their Kids' Violence?

A response to Are Parents Responsible for Their Kids' Violence?:

>> "The overwhelming proof that...next to parents...excessive violence and the sexual brutalizing of women in entertainment and the media are the major causes of violence in society, in our homes, in our communities, and in the world." <<

>> What three words do you think grab my attention the most? You guessed it. NEXT TO PARENTS. Now, I have maintained all along that the violence in our society today is, in fact, brought on by the examples set, or NOT set, in the homes. <<

I've maintained all along that media violence is one of several sources of real violence. I've maintained it because the evidence shows it. I've also maintained that we can do something about media violence but can't do much about parents. I'm still waiting for you, Billy Jack, or anyone to suggest a remedy for bad parenting. Be a man and do it.

Parents don't parent only by setting an example. They also parent by shaping and controlling what their kids watch. The point is that what parents and kids face is an onslaught of media violence.

Let's reiterate the case made by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a leading crusader against media violence. From his letter to the LA Times, 6/30/01:

If you talk to the parents I have, you'll find that they have a hard job raising their kids today. The entertainment industry is making that job significantly harder by targeting hyper-violent, sexually explicit material directly to kids. Neither the government nor the entertainment industry raises kids; parents do. But we can each make it easier for parents to do their job.

Who could argue with that?

To recap: No media violence activist thinks parents don't have a central role in raising their kids. That would be as fatuous as saying the sun doesn't have a role in global warming. But media violence activists don't concentrate on the parental role because there's little they can do behind closed doors.

Nor have you proved any more adept than them. I've asked you a dozen times what's your solution for making parents better? You've ducked it every time. I think I'll start counting how many times you duck this challenge, just to disprove your false assertion that you never duck questions.

Like everyone else, Tom Laughlin is aware of the central role of parents. Like everyone else except you, he realizes he can't do much about America's parents. Unlike you, he's tackling the problems he can do something about. Foremost among them is media violence—a problem good and bad parents are trying to deal with.

He's acting while you sit on your butt mouthing black-and-white platitudes ("blame the parents") as empty-headed and vacuous as Nancy Reagan's "just say no." Thank God somebody cares enough about violence in America to do something about it.

>> If all their films except the violent ones flop, guess what? They're going to make more violent films. Once the "tamer" ones start to flop, they're going to make even more graphic ones. <<

This free-market theory is cute, but it doesn't reflect reality. Filmmakers, TV producers, and comic-book publishers continue to follow the herd and put out second- and third-rate work long after trends have changed. That may explain why these people consistently strike out 90% of the time.

Creators aren't necessarily producing what the audience wants now. For starters, they're looking at a time frame of two or three years. They also have to appease their bosses and shareholders, even if they understand what the market wants in 2-3 years and others don't.

The result is that everyone's basically guessing. Over a period of 5-10 years, the market may correct itself and produce what people want. That explains why hip-hop movies are just hitting the pipeline now, 10-plus years after hip-hop became a market force. But in the short term, anything can happen.

So people make what they guess will sell, not what's proven to sell. If they guess violence will sell, they're basing their guesses on information from years ago. Whether it's still true is, you guessed it, a guess.

In fact—as Laughlin states on his site and in his book—nonviolent, PG-rated movies tend to do better than violent, R-rated movies. Movies from "E.T." to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" to "Titanic" prove the point. Hollywood may be catching on, slowly, which is why more and more movies are coming in at PG-13 than at R.

>> I'd say that violence in our society may be on a "demand and supply" system. <<

"May be"...may not be.

>> They became more popular. Guess what? WWF RAW IS WAR is the highest rated cable TV show on today. <<

Vince McMahon also guessed the XFL was exactly what the public wanted and invested in it big-time. Up till the day NBC canceled it, he was telling the press how the XFL would correct its mistakes and flourish in its "second season." Oops. So much for his or anyone's ability to read the "supply and demand." Looks to me like he's batting .500 with his guesses.

>> Now, once it becomes a problem in THE HOME, then it calls for drastic action by...wait for it...THE PARENTS. You've heard of them, THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE IN A CHILD'S LIFE. <<

See my previous messages on how today's parents have to work two jobs, unlike my parents (and perhaps yours). And on how parents are spending more time with their children despite needing to work two jobs. Again, I'm waiting for solutions rather than slogans.

Parents have had and continue to have all the opportunity to take drastic action. If they're the problem, they haven't implemented their own solutions. You may be content to have kids going on shooting rampages, but the rest of society isn't.

We don't need to wait for your content-free "solution"—that parents miraculously wake up one day and decide to change themselves—to take effect. We can pursue real solutions that will have a real effect. While you're praying for divine intervention, we'll help parents protect their children from media violence.

>> It's a Catch 22, a vicious cycle, a dog chasing it's own tail. And you know what? I bet it'll never end. In fact, it'll probably just get worse. <<

I fail to see the "logic" of that claim. If it was better before, why couldn't it be better again?

>> You can chant "control and shape" the media all you want <<

Okay, thanks!

>> in the end, it's the people buying the tickets, watching the shows, reading the books, feeding the cash cow, that'll determine the face of the media. <<

No, people like George Lucas or J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter books) will determine the face of the media. Visionary creators like them see needs going unmet in the media and fill them. Market-driven hacks like Khan (and you?)—who do what the audience "wants," make a couple of bucks, and go out of business—determine the flavor of the month. Tastemakers like Lucas and Rowling determine the flavor for decades.

>> THEY will control and shape. They do now and always will. And, ultimately, they'll face the consequences of the monster they've made. <<

If this is true, then what's your problem with people like me trying to shape and control the media? According to you, our efforts are doomed to fail. Therefore, you should have no objection to them.

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