The latest school shootings in Colorado have drawn the attention of
the media towards the entertainment industry, targeting movies, music,
and video games that feature violence as a perpetrator and influence that
influenced the accused. Numerous psychologists have been brought
forward and used the world "internalization," a commonly used term by social
scientists to describe how we come to understand and interact with
the world around us, a monkey-see-monkey-do model. There is nothing
incorrect about this statement. And in the context of these tragedies,
perhaps to an extent the violence in the modern media, nonetheless the
modern world does to an extent influence a childs behavior. In theory,
it is very possible that a child brought up _solely_ exposed to this world
of created and pictoral violence would indeed react in the way he or she
has internalized as a proper reaction to the world around them.
But in our society, we have deemed certain resposibilities upon individuals to guide children through a process of socialization. Parents not only care for and nourish a child, but provide part of the set of values that each child internalizes. This is an axiom of child development. It is what Freud bases many of his theories from. Parents are often saddled with the responsibility of gaurding that child from influences that may damage a stable and acceptable process of socialization. How the adolescent perceives and behaves in a world where parents have less influence and less ability to censor their children is a pretty good reflection on how successful this innate process of socialization of the pre-pubescent youth is. There are other factors, those associated with brain development or mental disability. But for the most part, it is the influence of parents, and what parents allow to influence their children that creates the individual and the characteristics thereof.
The Colorado tragedy has once again turned many heads, and possibly wrongfully so, to the entertainmnent industry. There is evidence that the accused perpetrators did involve themselves in music, movies, and video games that we associate with violence. I seek not to deny that this played any role in influencing these two young people. But, I do think that in wake of a law suit against several entertainment comapnies, including the production studios of "Natural Born Killers" and id Software, creators of the Doom and Quake series, and immediate jump to accusation of the formentioned companies in the latest violence, that we are beginning to see that there may be some scapegoating involved in the aftermath of these tragedies. While the violent content of these films and games is undeniable (I am an avid player of Quake myself), we seem to have ignored the fact that 18 year-olds aren't so easily influenced by violence if they have been socialized with the moral ideal that violence is bad, violence is not the answer. These individuals indeed may have played these games and immersed themselves in a cult of violence. The evidence is undeniable. But there are many other young people, a vast majority in fact, who have participated in one level or another, in the same activities and entertainment interests that these two young men had. So why doesn't every young person who plays Quake, or watches "The Basketball Diaries" and listen to industrial techno music act out violently?
As I see it, it is a complex social formula that has been oversimplified by the media, both out of the need of the populace for a quick scapegoat and the fear of raising taboo and often offensive issues such as the upbringing of a child. The facts that these boys were misfits or outcasts is not an excuse for their actions, it is the motivation for them. Maybe it is high time as well that we did analyze how children are growing up in the United States. If these boys had never been allowed to have been exposed to violence in the first place, none of this may have happened. But in the modern world where information and entertainment are availible at our fingertips, it would be unreasonable to think that these two could have ever been isolated from the images of violence that are embedded in our society. Disregarding the effects of media, maybe questions should be asked about how these boys perceived violence throughout their lives, nevermind over these few years when they were supposively cultist in a sense. To pinpoint the media and the entertainment industry as a problem in our society is not the way to prevent children from becoming violent. Thru stronger parenting and better assertion of the perils of violence, perhaps we can minimalize these tragedies, or eliminate them. Or perhaps we can better understand what would drive a person to violence. So much is unknown about these two people that one cannot possibly conclude all we can hope to learn from this tragedy. But rest assured, blame and finger pointing will only mystify the real problem. Perhaps questioning the role of parents is a taboo in our time. And perhaps this is why we mystify the issue. But one cannot begin to understand the larger issues without first knowing all the facts that we can gather. Assumption and blame have never solved a problem, but rather created new ones. It is high time to break down the partisan rally against the entertainment industry, and begin to question how society administrates itself in general, and how the mismanagement of our children, and possible misguidance, maybe leading to a social implosion.