The Bodacious Belgrade Blog

September 1, 2008

Violence and Media: Fatherhood turns you into a wuss

Filed under: Uncategorized — bunitingi @ 2:08 pm
Tags: , ,

Scientists haven’t discovered this, but mark my words, they will.

When a man’s sperm hits the egg and sets off the series of chain reactions that eventually become a little baby, it also often sets off a series of biochemical reactions in it’s parents brains, compounded and reinforced over time through follow up stimula such as looking at how cute their little woogie-boogie is, that conspire to turn them into uptight pussies.

Just like their parents were.

When i was but a wee lad, my mother brought home some bullshit parents’ association thing that talked about TV and children and violence. The part that i remember the most clearly was that it recommended watching ‘Little House On The Prairie’ instead of the ‘A-Team’. What uptight pussies. (Actually, i watched both. But the A-Team was way cooler.) Heck to this day i go all gooey whenever i see Mr. T

But now i feel the process occurring deep in my poor little brain, and for some demonic reason, i find myself reflecting on violence in TV and movies, and America’s role in this. (You really can’t dwell on this topic without dwelling on America. We invented, perfected, and champion this entire phenomenon.)

Not to be a prude, but seriously, how many movies have you seen in the past season where someone DIDN’T die? How many dramas on TV have you seen where there isn’t a dead body? Or someone getting shot. Heck, i love the show Lost. Love and will watch it like a little pimply fanboy to the end. But there are times when it seems to me everyone is just whipping out guns like you would a bag of chips. (and they’re on an isolated, tropical island fer….) I know why the writers do it. It’s because you want tension heightened as much as possible in order to grip the audience, and guns are the easiest way to accomplish this.

I feel like someone’s mother. (or maybe, more to the point, someone’s father) But once i started noticing this, i couldn’t stop. If it’s from the States and not specifically a comedy or children’s movie, there WILL, absolutely, positively be a dead body and someone gripping a gun shouting really loud in it. I don’t believe the average studio can conCEIVE of how to create gripping drama without using the Death Card.

(For the record, while i do hold writers of all these show and movies to be responsible and creatively lazy, i also no doubt that if they tried to write the script without a murder or gun being stuck in everyone’s face, some exec would waltz in and say “Eh, not quite… gripping enough. Throw a gun/dead body in there. Can we kill someone?”)

And American media IS the leader in violence, although we’re seeing other countries step up. In order to compete. Because we know how to sell shit, and this shit sells. Being in a foreign country, one can really see the difference in media violence. If i’m watching something with lots of guns, or guaranteed to have a dead body, 80% of the time, it’s coming from the good old US of A. You know it’s true. Everyone knows it.

“In 1998, for instance, the United States experienced 35 times as many gun deaths per capita as England and 285 times as many as Japan. Overall, a US child is about 300 times as likely to die from a firearm as a child from a typical industrialized nation” -AAFP report on violence in media.

I’m not arguing this is anything new: Between 2000 B.C. and 44 A.D., the ancient Egyptians entertained themselves with plays re-enacting the murder of their god Osiris — and the spectacle, history tells us, led to a number of copycat killings. The ancient Romans were given to lethal spectator sports as well, and in 380 B.C. Saint Augustine lamented that his society was addicted to gladiator games and “drunk with the fascination of bloodshed.”

And now the American Empire is playing out it’s role,  simply following the pattern of ancient footsteps.

It’s not one video game. It’s not one movie. It’s not one TV cop drama which MUST always have a dead body. (or rushing to save some woman from being mutilated by a psycho. Hell, how many dramas are there without a psycho? There’s almost as many psychos as guns. In fact, I stipulate, if it doesn’t have a gun that’s because it has a psycho with a knife.)

It’s not one thing, it’s everything together.

But I’m not telling anybody anything they don’t already know. Hell, you’re online. If you want to hear a bunch of prudish pussies bitch about this, with a few clicks you can sit up all night. So why am i wasting your time?

(“Because you’re pathetically bored from being stuck on the couch for an entire week with your gimp foot, will blather on about anything and eventually be blogging about the different subtle variations in your gaseous emissions?” Okay, aside from that answer)

Because i feel these strange tentacles taking over my brain. There’s too much bloody death being trumpeted from every media outlet my country has. Its an insane cacophony, a dissonant, symphonic ode to Death in the name of entertainment. Everything American media does has to be hysterical in order to grip the attention of the population (so that ultimately our sponsors can make more money).

How do i raise a good man? (i’m a bit ab sent positive male role models, i really don’t know.) Tell me i’m not going to tell my boy he should watch Little House On The Prairie instead of A-Team! Curse you, Parenthood!!!

Hell, i shocked myself the day i decided that there is NO way, NO how i am buying a video console for my family household. We can rent an X-box as a special occasion thing. When he is old enough to make money himself, if he wants to buy one with his own money, he is welcome to. But after watching the effects of having these insanely super neat video game platforms in various childrens’ homes (and they ARE incredibly awesome. I gave away my X-Box because it was just too addictive), i am not going to contribute to the creative retardation of my kid by bringing a console into my house. If i had an X-Box as a teenager, there’s a high probability i wouldn’t be a musician today. (of course, this might also mean i might make a lot more money… and for that matter i might be a game designer as a result, delighting in creating incredible game platform worlds much as i delight in making emotional sonic worlds.. ah, being a Libra is no easy burden)

No, no i’m not chancing it. No game platforms. And he will probably not like me for that. Because my reasons are prudish, pussy reasons. Just like my mom’s were. (She wouldn’t even buy me an Atari! EVERYone had an Atari. It wasn’t even violent or anything. She totally sucked for that.)

Sigh. Sometimes i feel my life is one long road towards settling into a hippy commune. And now, one step closer.

Peace, dudes.


  1. Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

    Comment by Chris Moran — September 1, 2008 @ 2:10 pm | Reply

  2. Okay, look…

    This is how it starts. Next you’ll be talking about the music these kids today listen to, and it’s only a small step from there to shaking your cane at the kids walking on your lawn.

    In everything there is abstinence, moderation, and overindulgence. You can watch no movies, or you can watch some movies, or you can watch every movie. You can play zero video games, play video games sometimes, or play video games all the time.

    My usual tack is moderation in all things. For instance, the kid and I will sit down to watch some Bob the Builder (no violence), then maybe some Tom & Jerry (violence), and then go play with tractors. Watching violent television programs will not be all your child does, if you make sure he is getting a balance of different activities.

    Abstinence is almost always a bad idea. Your child and mine have been born into a culture suffused with violent imagery, and they need exposure to it so that they know its place in amongst other things. I, too, watched the A-team, and to this day, I have not fired a gun or built a bomb out of a mattress. But I suspect that if my parents had specifically told me NOT to watch it, I might’ve thought those things were immeasurably cool, and maybe tried them.

    There are those who would even argue that children need to see violence, and learn about it in depth, because there is a likelihood that one day someone may attack them. I’m divided on that issue, because spending a great deal of time preparing for an event that may never happen could lead to an awful lot of wasted energy. On the other hand, if the day comes when you need to defend yourself or a loved one, and you’ve never in your life witnessed or thought about violence, you won’t have the first clue what to do.

    There is such a thing as ingesting too much violence. But I think you’ll definitely be vigilant in making sure that level is not reached.

    Just don’t become a fucking old lady on me. That would really be depressing. (however, don’t make me watch L&O SVU…scares the bejeezus out of me now)

    Comment by matthew — September 2, 2008 @ 1:29 am | Reply

  3. Oh my… I can’t wait for to see these theories played out. Isn’t parenting a lot like war? You only have a game plan before the fighting starts and then you feel good if you just make it out alive! My parents never let me have a game console untill I paid for it my self and as far as you know I have not killed anyone yet. I just round house kick people and pull thier spines out in one horrific move. But they get back up when I push the start botton again.

    Comment by Andrew — September 2, 2008 @ 9:24 am | Reply

  4. Matthew: as you know, i agree completely that the best way to fetishize something is to forbid it. And i like horror and some action movies (my mian problem with action movies is not really violence, they’re just insanely stupid), but i will be watching these with my kid.

    I’m not worried about him not seeing what everyone else is seeing. (hell, shield is back on, i LOVE the Shield. If my boy were old enough and wanted to sit with me while it was on, he’d be doing so and see Vic Macky in all his glory)

    I’m not raising a sheltered kid AT ALL (the hippy commune thing is a joke…) I guess i’m having one of those “it’s all going to hell in a handbasket” moments (which i usually shy away from) because what i’m noticing is just striking me so hard.

    But no worries, i wish to raise a well balanced boy, and to do that, he needs to see the world. My job is to help him develop the tools to process the world around him, so he can cope with it, navigate it, and one day rule it with an iron fist!

    Comment by bunitingi — September 2, 2008 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  5. Andrew: “I have not killed anyone yet”

    You can cut out the whole “i’m not a CIA assasin, i swear!” Your cover is so blown. I don’t even want to know the body count you’ve got racked up. (and probably wouldn’t live very long if i did…)

    I’m just proud that you managed to capture Karadzic alive. Hey, wait a sec, where were you the week the russians invaded georgia?

    Comment by bunitingi — September 2, 2008 @ 1:38 pm | Reply

  6. “Isn’t parenting a lot like war? You only have a game plan before the fighting starts and then you feel good if you just make it out alive!”

    That is an accurate assessment. However, it is possible to retain and implement enough vestiges of your plan so that to an outsider, it may look as though you know what you’re doing.

    Once the initial newborn thing was over (“OMGWTFHOLYSHIT!!!!”), I’ve managed to pull the train more or less back on the tracks. Not to say there aren’t periodic derailments. Come to think of it, parenting’s really more like Amtrak than anything else…

    Comment by matthew — September 2, 2008 @ 4:41 pm | Reply

  7. Uhm, we’re about 2 months away from lift off. What do you mean “OMGWTFHOLYSHIT”? This pregnancy thing has been pretty loaded all on it’s own. I’m actually looking forward to when it’s over (and i can walk) and we can finally unwind.

    Comment by bunitingi — September 2, 2008 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  8. “I’m actually looking forward to when it’s over (and i can walk) and we can finally unwind.”


    No, please, wait…


    Oh, man, you really had me there. “Unwind.” With a newborn. Good stuff, man. Keep it coming.

    Comment by matthew — September 2, 2008 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

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