Saturday, January 12, 2013

When will Vice President Joe Biden start investigating the influence of the novel on our society?

Over at Unleash the Fanboy, I've got a new post up about the current anti-video game wave. A sample:

On April 21 and 22, and June 4, 1954, the US Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency held public hearings at which certain experts in juvenile crime were invited to testify along with artists and publishers of comic strips and comic books. Comic books as a medium did not fare well in the proceedings, as this Reductio ad Hitlerum testimony by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham suggests:
“It is my opinion,” Wertham told the senators and the cameras, “without any reasonable doubt and without any reservation, that comic books are an important contributing factor in many cases of juvenile delinquency.” The child most likely to be influenced by comic books, he said, is the normal child; morbid children are less affected, “because they are wrapped up in their own fantasies.” Comic books taught children racism and sadism—“Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic book industry,” he said. In his book, he said that “Batman” comics were homoerotic and that “Wonder Woman” was about sadomasochism. He was even critical of “Superman” comics: “They arouse in children fantasies of sadistic joy in seeing other people punished over and over again while you yourself remain immune,” he testified. “We have called it the Superman complex.”
Note that the above quote, from a New Yorker review of The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America, says that Dr. Wertham was speaking to senators and cameras. That's because these hearings, set up to discover the causes of the epidemic of juvenile delinquency, were televised. Today, of course, we've evolved beyond such nonsense. Today, when elected officials hold investigations into how the media is responsible for horrific crime, those hearings take place in secret.
Vice President Joe Biden said on Friday he was “shooting for Tuesday” to get President Barack Obama his recommendations on how to battle an epidemic of gun violence and warned “there’s no silver bullet” to stop the killing. Biden was meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House with executives from video game companies whose products have often been blamed for making players insensitive to real-world violence.
Just like the comic books of the 1950s, when Superman "arouse[d] in children fantasies of sadistic joy in seeing other people punished over and over again while [readers remained] immune," the video games of today have "often been blamed" for making players "insensitive to real-world violence." And the federal government is on the case.

Read it all here if you want.

1 comment:

Thrill Fiction said...

As a child I would be threatened with the confiscation of my comic books at home and at school. I resented it because I saw it as a means to deprive me of something I truly enjoyed. They could see I truly enjoyed it which was why they threatened it. It was always the American comics that were the issue. Especially when I'd repeat words like 'blast'. British comics were fine; Topper, Dandy and Commando. War comics were fine. Everyone hated the Hun.

In the 80s came video nasties and across the pond in your land there was the attack on rap. There are societies exposed to all forms of art and entertainment. Said places do not indulge in wanton cannibalistic terror. The truth as I see it is cultural and socioeconomic. Those are the harsh realities for societies in freefall and decay. But how many people do you know willing accept responsibility for their mistakes?

The powers that be have learnt to deflect. Their audience - the people - never learn.