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Media Violence Comes Home to Roost

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Message Michael Gillespie
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Finally, a mass murder not in a school, but in the temple where Americans gather to worship violence, a movie theater. In a country as thoroughly manipulated, warped, and deranged by media violence as is America, The Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan's description of the movie theater as "that innocent and hopeful place" is both self-serving and surreal, but perhaps the Aurora mass murder represents, in a grotesque and macabre way, some kind of progress. After all, a psychotic mass murderer has sent the wealthy and powerful sociopaths of Hollywood, the industry moguls who reap obscene profits from socially-destabiliizing media violence, a message they can understand, one that negatively impacts box office revenue.


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That a meaningful public discussion about media violence would come out of this latest in a long string of horrors would be too much to hope for. Public discussions are shaped by mass media, and America's mass media are largely controlled by people who profit from media violence both financially and politically. Mass media talking heads are dutifully avoiding any serious discussion of embarrassing questions about the well-documented effects of media violence on naive and unstable audience members and turning instead to the issue of gun control, a strategy that works quite well for media moguls and those who speak for them. Our elected representatives cannot speak to us honestly about media violence, its political utility or its hideous effects, because their political campaigns take place largely in electronic venues owned and operated by media moguls, whom they dare not offend.

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Occasionally, after yet another terrible tragedy, senior law enforcement officials speak truth about media violence. After a mass shooting in Arizona killed six and wounded 19 including US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Charlie Rose asked Roger Depue, a 21-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a former chief of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit, a question about the movies and the media and the negative impact of violence. Depue described the impact of media violence as, "much more profound and significant than a little political rhetoric."

America, our politics, our culture, our society, is marinated in media violence and is sickened well-nigh unto death by it. Media violence is the glamorous, lucrative, and deadly gift that media moguls give Americans whether they want it or not, because, even though it is destroying much if not all that is good and decent about America, it enriches and empowers a very few.

 

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Michael Gillespie writes regularly for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. A 1999 graduate of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University, he was inducted a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national (more...)
 
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