Fear & Violence

I was reading some comments about the original Wizard of Oz in relation to the new movie Oz the Great & Powerful. One comment mentioned how as a nine year old child they had to stop watching the Wizard of Oz because they were so afraid of the flying monkeys.  I don’t think a nine year old today would find the monkeys nearly so terrifying.

I love a good fright. I enjoy scary movies and I hope my books provide a few chills. That being said children today are far more desensitized to fear and violence than the children of a generation ago. Movies, television and video games have become increasingly scarier and more violent over time. Children are also exposed to violence at a younger age.

Fear can be a good thing. If we felt no fear mankind would certainly have died out long ago. If our fearless ancestors stood unafraid before angry lions they would have been lunch and we would not have been born. Can fear be a bad thing? Of course, fear without purpose can be the cause of many mental problems. These problems include but are not limited to anxiety, depression and paranoia.

It seems as time goes on society has decreased external fears related to flying monkeys and increased internal fears about whatever is bothering us. Movie audiences are like drug addicts. Movies seem to get darker, more gruesome and scarier as time goes on. Yet, I would argue that despite these changes films have less of an impact on their audience. We have increased our tolerance to fear and violence and need more to obtain the same effect.

In the 1950’s the United States Congress argued that evil comic books such as, Tales for the Crypt #40 poisoned the minds of our youth. They argued that reading these types of comics led to Juvenile Delinquency. Today the same comic would be considered mild. It would also be nice if children were reading anything.

You would think given the issues before our Congress today they would be done wasting their time with such silliness. After all we do have an enormous national debt and plenty of issues related to the economy to keep them busy. Yet in January of 2013 Congress was arguing over a bill to research the impact of violent video games. A stark reminder of how far we have failed to go since the 1950’s.The best way to reduce Juvenile Delinquency is to have jobs available for teens and their parents.

It is not unreasonable to conclude there is too much violence aimed at children in games, television and the movies. I’m not nearly so concerned about violence in literature because kids simply don’t read as much as they use to or should. Thus, children reading about violence is still better then not reading. I should also note that I’m not nearly so concerned about the impact on our children by witnessing fictional violence as I am about corporate messaging. I think it was in the movie Supersize Me where more of the children in a classroom could recognize Ronald McDonald than Jesus or the President.

I would argue that as a nation there is probably nothing to do about violence in video games, television, and movies. I don’t want Congress to sensor what games or movies can be produced. Yet, as parents there is a lot we can do to limit our own children’s exposure to inappropriate materials. Obviously if there was not a demand for violent games or movies they wouldn’t be produced. Maybe, we have evolved too far. Maybe without real fear in our daily lives we have had to search for illusory fears. Maybe if we had to run or hide from real, “lions and tigers and bears” we wouldn’t need to watch movies in search of a good fright.

I just hope Oz the Great & Powerful lives up to the hype. I might write a review after I have scene it. If my review excludes flying monkeys I was likely too scared to look.





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