[lit-ideas] Re: media violence

  • From: Teemu Pyyluoma <teme17@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 26 May 2004 11:25:19 -0700 (PDT)

--- John Wager <johnwager@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> But we DO force people to learn to add and subtract,
> no matter HOW much they hate it, because we think 
> that having fellow citizens who can do 
> this is something that's good for ALL of us.  We
> REQUIRE students to learn about the constitution and
> history because we need them to be able to make 
> intelligent political decisions.  The problem I have
> here is I don't know where to put violence like
this.  > Is it something that we should REQUIRE
students to 
> deal wtih because "real" violence is NOT Hollywood 
> violence?  Do we want students to be aware
> of the difference? If so, can we require students to
> deal with it REGARDLESS of their squeamishness? 
What > makes violence different than algebra?

Well, unlike say algebra, violence is not abstract.
Someone actually hurts someone else. Logically
speaking I think it ought to be thought as a relation,
V(x,y). Failure to grasp this leads to such vague
questions as how violence affects us.

But to answer John's question, yes we should insist
that kids deal with violence. When is the hard part.
The ethics we pass to children are very simple, we
tell them for example they should not never hurt other
people, even if know that there are exceptions to this
rule. Which is wise, because we can not expect
children to grasp the finer nuances of Just War Theory
or to distinquish cases where use of violence would be
legitimate for self-defence. We try our best to make
things so for children that they are in an environment
where they don't have to deal with issues like this;
the essence of being child is being protected from
various worries and conflicts of adult world. But at
some point they will figure out that it is not so

Hollywood violence is not real in the sense that the
characters, settings or concequences are often not
realistic. But, in most films there is a distinction
between good and bad guys, good and bad violence. I do
believe that even bad films are helpful when trying to
figure out what's good or bad, it's not that the
answers given are right, but you can't get to the
right answers without something to start with. People,
even small people, are not just some containers where
behavioural model inputs compete for dominance.

Violence is a form of conflict. Conflicts are
inevitable, and there is nothing unnatural about
resolving an argument by a fist fight as such. The
idea that if we would not be exposed to violence we
would not be violent, is like saying that if we just
didn't listen to bad music we would all have great
taste. The trick is to learn non-violent ways to
resolve a conflict, and certainly educational system
should try to help.

I don't know what this means in practice. What I'm
pretty sure it does not mean is talking about violence
as some sort of genetic defect or natural force,
typical of criminals and generally speaking others.
Also it doesn't mean learning to pretend that there is
no conflict.

What it could mean is showing how conflict can be
good: competition is good in many ways, argumentation
can lead to better knowledge. The great thing about
learning to argument in the philosophical sense is
that you can disagree as much as you want but still be
civilized. Or for another matter, when I was in school
there was this nurse who toured schools showing
pictures and describing in a very matter of fact way
the effect of punches and kicks. Gruesome, but very
effective. Or examining how people end up in resolting
to violence, speaking of films Mystic River would be a
good base for discussion (I guess the book would do
too, but I haven't read it.)

Helsinki, Finland

Do you Yahoo!?
Friends.  Fun.  Try the all-new Yahoo! Messenger.
To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

Other related posts: