Pundits wrong to blame society's woes on entertainment industry


Pundits wrong to blame society's woes on entertainment industry


By: Dave Arey
Posted: 4/25/07
Hours after the Virginia Tech shootings, people were already looking for something to blame.

Fox News had on lawyer and "school shootings expert" Jack Thompson, an infamous critic of video games. He gave the dubious statement that when looking at most school shootings there was a common thread, that being "the immersion of the perpetrators in incredibly violent entertainment, most notably violent videogames." This was before the killer had even been named.

When it was found out that Seung-Hui Cho had little contact with violent videogames, other possible explanations were discussed. In a video sent to NBC, Cho can be seen holding a hammer in a pose reminiscent of the movie "Oldboy." As a result, many began wondering if the killings were influenced by that. In reporting on the story, Jake Coyle of the Associated Press wrote that, "Notorious killers are commonly linked to movies or music."

Such an assumption is very dangerous, but sadly, it is also common. It is true that John Lennon's killer read "The Catcher in the Rye." It is also true that Charles Manson loved The Beach Boys and The Beatles. But they were very troubled people who did not need entertainment to inspire their actions.

The killings at Virginia Tech have followed a never-ending string of cases where entertainment has been blamed for the actions of an individual. One of the more ludicrous recent examples was Don Imus' comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team. Ever since, many people in the media have blamed rap music as much as they have blamed Imus himself.

Imus started the conversation by mentioning on his show that he was simply repeating the vernacular of rappers. Many others in the media picked up on this. In a column printed April 11, Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star wrote that, "I'm sure at least one of the marvelous young women on the Rutgers basketball team is somewhere snapping her fingers to the beat of 50 Cent's or Snoop Dogg's or Young Jeezy's latest ode glorifying nappy-headed pimps and hos." Days later, he was on Oprah.

I am not suggesting that violent videogames or rap music should necessarily get a free pass. There is certainly a time to talk about the role each has in society. However, in each of these cases, the people using these situations to advance their own views are opportunistic and wrong.

Artists (and yes, I did just call rappers and videogame makers "artists") need to be given room to create. Both rap and violent videogames are representations of the society they come out of - a society prone to violence, racism and sexism. Using the misfortune of others to get on television is no way to make that society better.

Dave Arey is a contributing columnist whose columns appear biweekly in The Daily Orange. E-mail him at dwarey@syr.edu.


Original Source:<a href=http://media.www.dailyorange.com/media/storage/paper522/news/2007/04/25/Opinion/Pundits.Wrong.To.Blame.Societys.Woes.On.Entertainment.Industry-2878530.shtml>The Daily Orange - April 25, 2007</a>


Dave Arey




Sara Hood


Peter Waack <pwaack@dailyorange.com>




Dave Arey, “Pundits wrong to blame society&#39;s woes on entertainment industry,” The April 16 Archive, accessed March 3, 2024, https://april16archive.org/items/show/1193.