The way of the world

Here’s one that will bring the warm tinglies to your cockles.

Gun violence has increased in movies over the last 30 years, so say researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center and Ohio State University.

The Internet Movie DataBase put it quite succinctly: “Gun violence in PG-13 movies has more than tripled since 1985, the study’s authors write. In fact, last year movies with that rating contained more gun violence than the top-grossing R-rated movies. Since 2009, the amount of carnage in PG-13 films has been roughly equivalent to films that are rated R.

“’It’s disturbing that PG-13 movies are filled with so much gun violence,’ Dan Romer, director of the Adolescent Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) and a co-author of the study, said in a statement. ’We know that movies teach children how adults behave, and they make gun use appear exciting and attractive.’”

That is where we find fault. We know that establishment culture likes to blame music, movies and games for the violence in our youth. That doesn’t make it true. In fact, one thing we know about conventional wisdom is if its logic is scratched with a Q-Tip, it’s going to take the surface off.

But, no, not in the actual study, which can be read at Researchers also made the claim that the simple presence of imaginary guns on screen can increase aggression. The scientists call the effect “the weapons effect.” But the truth is that there are also many studies that found little correlation between imaginary and real violence. In fact, not that this group is the personification of logic or wisdom, but presented with many arguments to support both sides of the debate, in June 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that banned the sale of violent video games to children because games don’t cause violence in children.

We know that children’s minds are not developed, but we also know that the human animal is particularly keyed into images of danger. Children, at least those of age to watch PG-13 movies, know the difference between movie violence and real violence. They play video games. They own pets. They know the difference.

And yet, we also know that those old cartoons, like Disney’s Snow White and Bambi, were enough to give us nightmares, and that was even before Disney vertically integrated news and entertainment.

It’s not the movies, folks. It’s the culture. Children acting violently isn’t just fictional, it’s real. Children follow the examples of their peers. They follow the examples of their parents. They see the newspaper with images of dead school shooters, or they listen to the radio, or they see the TV news and its images of war-torn countries and their children that we tore apart. Watched the NFL lately?

Of course children are violent. Violence is the only logical reaction to a culture that instructs them that the only way they will survive is to be prepared for violence. Not cartoon violence. Not two-dimensional violence. Real violence. Our militarized society sets them with a hair trigger and then moans about the movies.