Has TV Violence and Crime Gone Too Far?
Excuse me for a moment while I think like a total prude, but I am rather concerned about a question I have been thinking about a lot lately... has TV gone too far?
The internets were buzzing recently about a controversial episode of The Walking Dead ("Just look at the flowers..."). I won't discuss the specific circumstances of the episode, however a simple Google search of the line I quoted will explain everything. But what exactly is too far for a violent and gory show about walking dead? If you did that Google search, you know the answer.
Image via AMC
I watch The Walking Dead very infrequently these days because I have found it difficult at the beginning of Season 4 to continue investing my time in a show that may never-ever-ever have a positive outcome. I have enough to worry about in my own life to watch another world falling apart for entertainment. I don't totally dislike the show and won't rule out the possibility that I might watch again in the future (or binge-watch on Netflix) but for now I am keeping my distance until some redeeming quality about the show presents itself.
Now Season 4 of Game of Thrones is being questioned for going too far. Unlike The Walking Dead, I am still totally invested in this series based on the books written by George R. R. Martin. But whether you have read the series or watched it on TV (or both), you know what to expect: nudity, violence, and nude violence. Controversy is nothing unexpected or new to the HBO series (The Red Wedding certainly had people talking) but is there a time when the show would say no?
Mad Men is about to return to AMC for its final season and has been rather blunt about the portrayal of women and the roles they served in those days. The Sopranos (HBO) and Dexter (Showtime) had been criticized once upon a time for glorifying criminals, and now The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones seem to have reinvented and gone further with violence. What has always been the concern for some over the years is how TV influences and desensitizes youth.
Video games and even music have also been blamed for causing youth to act out violence. I believe that one of the simplest ways to prevent tragedy is through parenting to ensuring our children are safe and smart about their actions. We need to be parents and tell our children when they can or can't watch something, and what is good behavior and bad behavior.
My own youth wasn't without violent entertainment in movies, music, and video games which my own parents permitted (unless I was being sneaky). I turned out ok, if not a little bit nerdy. My sister and I wasted many weekends playing rather pointless shooting games like Contra, having lightsaber duels, and epic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle - Batman - Star Wars playtime. She turned out ok too... if not a little bit cooler than me.
We can disagree about whether or not it is the entertainment itself to blame, but we can agree to raise children who understand entertainment is meant to be entertainment and not some terrible thing they need to act out.
What do you think? Does entertainment foster violence? Has TV gone too far?