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Media Violence: An Assignment

I'd like to give a brief introduction before the serious stuff:

I'm currently training to become an engineer, and as such I attend the local college occasionally to prove that my skills in maths, physics and all the mechanical and electronic things in-between are up to scratch.

Here in the UK we have something called Key Skills, which basically is a bunch of boring, rubbish assignments that the colleges makes it's students (even the part timers) go through to ensure they get funded from the govornments. One of these assignments is a piece demonstrating the ability to communicate with written words on a topic of my choosing. I chose videogame and movie violence as, simply put, it is a topic that many people get wrong and it irritates me.

I'd love to hear what the Destructoid community thinks of it, I also apologise for the worn out topic (be warned it's supposed to be serious so don't expect lame jokes!)

Here it goes...

With the atrocious Sandy Hook shootings still fresh in people�s memories many designers and directors have come under fire for their work. Through a tenuous link the news media has been quick to point to the shooters fascination with violent videogames and films. The response to this statement has been drastic to say the least; one of the more extreme examples was the proposed public burning of what was deemed �violent media�. Residents of the Connecticut town Southington were encouraged to bring children along and were invited to bring copies of films, television shows, video games and even books to a public burning, the likes of which have not been seen since the religious outrage and public burnings of the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden�s catalogue in protest to supposed Satanist themes. The event was proposed by the help group SouthingtonSOS.

While an event like this will surely send a message, will it send the right message?
At the very least demonstrating to children that bad things can be removed through violence is going to be detrimental to their development, if not worse for them by substituting the often over embellished, ridiculous violence of the fictional realm with a very real and very scary mass burning.

Experts will say that it is a parent�s duty to ensure that their children are either;
� Kept away from material that is deemed inappropriate by them or organisations such as the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), PEGI (Pan European Game Information) and the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification).
� Kept under parental guidance when exposed to content that may be deemed questionable.
� Consulted by an expert if the parent suspects their child may have a mental disorder, anger issues or psychopathic tendancies.

Despite actual evidence suggesting that the shooter was exposed no more to violent media than every other average young male, and research showing that with the soaring popularity of videogames youth violence has actually declined to its lowest level within 40 plus years people are convinced that children and young adults are rapidly becoming desensitized to violence in the real world due to it�s increasing presence in the virtual one, and with newspapers and other news media regularly skewing views and leaving minor yet important details out of research results actual problems, issues and events that may be the actual cause of horrific events such as the Sandy Hook and Aurora shootings are being pushed aside in favour of an easier target to pin the blame on.

For example the statement �A study reported that 60 per cent of schoolboys who played a game above their age limit hit someone� not only neglects to mention any details about who these schoolboys hit but also neglects to mention who these schoolboys actually are, is the sample actually representative of every schoolboy in the world, or was it just 10 boys taken from a disadvantaged area. There is no direct evidence to state that video games or movies make children violence. For one, all research carried out is inaccurate, as to perform an appropriate experiment on children would require exposing children to mature content, which is wholly unethical. There is also the failure of mentioning that the research shows a correlation rather than a cause and effect relationship. A correlation is not direct proof, for example there is a correlation between eating chocolate and being fat but to assume that this means that everyone who eats chocolate is fat (or conversely everyone who is fat always eats chocolate) is wrong.

The prestigious director Quentin Tarantino has also recently come under fire for his recent Bafta winning blockbuster Django Unchained, critics have not only commented on the films liberal (but completely justified) use of the N word but in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting the directors trademark use of over the top fantasy violence has been questioned.
Tarantino�s response to this included remarks about how tired he was of defending his films every time there is a shooting in America, he finished with the quote; �I just think you know there's violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers. It's a western. Give me a break." followed up then by stating that the blame for violence should remain squarely with the perpetrators.

Although whether the blame lies with the �fetishization� of violence or the actual perpetrator still only comes down to personal opinion, it is a sad truth that there are mentally ill people in the world that can�t be helped or who go unnoticed until a tragedy occurs, and in the case of John Lennon�s murder it is shown that religion or the belief that you are carrying out the will of god can be just as effective as videogames or movies in triggering a madman�s rampage. The world has psychopaths in it, and all they need to be set off is the right trigger.

Thanks for reading x
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About DaviesAntonyone of us since 10:25 AM on 11.04.2012

I am a British male, I like movies, comics, books, poetry, music and videogames. My favorite thing about videogames is their artistic qualities; stuff like sound design, art direction and that general pith, I especially love stylized games with a touch of retro and the macabre.

Below is a picture of me as an 80's detective

I owe roughly 43% of my brain to Klei Entertainment, Playdead Studios and Quentin Tarantino.
Hideo Kojima, Chris Nolan and Ken Levine can fight over the rest.

Come find me on twitter! @DaviesAntony

- Antony Davies