Wayne Lapierre, NRA CEO and Executive Vice President
Ok, so some of you are going to call me a big fat liar, since I swore
that I wouldn't again address the fallacy that violence in video games causes violence in real life. And I not going to argue against any such allegations should they come, because this article isn't really about that. Rather, I'd like to address the idea that older generations tend to find fault with the actions of new generations. And it comes off the back of the recent comments from Wayne Lapierre, the CEO and Executive Vice President of America's National Rifle Association, a body advocates for firearm ownership which is major constitutional right in America.
In the shadow of the mass shooting that happened in America, Lapierre placed the blame for the tragedy squarely on TV, movies and video games, saying that “there exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.”
“And then they have the nerve to call it ‘entertainment,’” LaPierre added, “but is that what it really is? Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography? In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year.”
To LaPierre, protecting children from the supposed vile filth that is TV, movies and video games is more important than freedom of speech and expression. And that's fine, his entitled to his opinion. And he’s not the only one and his sentiments aren't new. There are many NGO’s and government/political leaders that have spoken out against modern media and it's corrupting influence.
But I’m not going to debate whether video games or TV are having an undue influence on the children. Instead, I like to point out that LaPierre is simply regurgitating criticisms that our grandfathers and their grandfathers have spat out for generations. Whenever a new generation puts out a new form of media or expression of art, that medium has come under attack from the generation before. Every. Single. Time.
And this isn’t only a problem of the modern era. Oh no, this attack by our parents on the stuff we like goes back a heckuva long way. For example:
Rock and Roll
"The effect of rock and roll on young people, is to turn them into devil worshippers; to stimulate self-expression through sex; to provoke lawlessness; impair nervous stability and destroy the sanctity of marriage. It is an evil influence on the youth of our country."
- Minister Albert Carter, 1956
"Many adults think that the crimes described in comic books are so far removed from the child's life that for children they are merely something imaginative or fantastic. But we have found this to be a great error. Comic books and life are connected. A bank robbery is easily translated into the rifling of a candy store. Delinquencies formerly restricted to adults are increasingly committed by young people and children... All child drug addicts, and all children drawn into the narcotics traffic as messengers, with whom we have had contact, were inveterate comic-book readers This kind of thing is not good mental nourishment for children!"
- Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, 1954
"Does the telephone make men more active or more lazy? Does [it] break up home life and the old practice of visiting friends?"
- Survey conducted by the Knights of Columbus Adult Education Committee, San Francisco Bay Area, 1926
"This new form of entertainment has gone far to blast maidenhood... Depraved adults with candies and pennies beguile children with the inevitable result. The Society has prosecuted many for leading girls astray through these picture shows, but God alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives begun at the 'moving pictures.'"
- The Annual Report of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1909
"The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced ... at the English Court on Friday last ... It is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs, and close compressure of the bodies... to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is ... forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion."
- The Times of London, 1816
"The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth; and prevented others from improving their minds in useful knowledge. Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?"
- Reverend Enos Hitchcock, Memoirs of the Bloomsgrove Family, 1790
The Written Word
“…for this discovery [the written word] of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.”
- Socrates, The Phaedrus 370 BC
All those quotes through the ages prove two things. Firstly, that old people hate young people :P And secondly, with hindsight, we see that the world never came to an end once those innovations were accepted. Video games are the youngest of the new mediums and as such it will reserve the bulk of hate. But this criticism of the medium we love is something we'll just have to deal with, ironically, in the same way our critics had to deal with their parents hating on the things they loved.
The question we have to ask ourselves is this: Once our kids come around with their new medium are we going to give them a hard time; or are we going to just accept it and move on?
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