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Music, Movies, and Video Games

Where does violence in America come from?

When something bad happens, we often tend to look towards the easiest target. Or as Occam’s razor says, “the simple solution is often the correct one.”

We try to blame music, such as Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper and rap stars. We don’t see these people as artists, but as people who are trying to convert our children to evil. If you ever hear Alice Cooper or Marilyn Manson speak in interviews, they are actually creative and intelligent human beings. One of my favorite quotes from Marilyn Manson was when he was being interviewed for the documentary Bowling for Columbine. When asked what he would say to the Columbine shooters, if he had the chance, he replied “Nothing. I would listen to them.” This really made me think, and it’s important to realize that listening is just as important as talking.

We blame the violence in movies, such as Natural Born Killers, and Pulp Fiction. We claim that these types of films are demoralizing and desensitizing us to violence. Yet turn on your local news station and see what they have to offer. Murder, robbings, kidnappings, and death. You will never hear about the family who fed someone else or took someone in. That doesn’t bring in ratings. Death does. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that we haven’t been somewhat desensitized to violence, but you can’t pinpoint it on a single thing. Ask a surviving victim of a mass shooting if they are desensitized to violence, and see what their response is.

If those two don’t work, then we blame violent video games for the problems of modern society. We look at Grand Theft Auto, Doom, Wolfenstein, etc. We have an ESRB rating system for this that ranges from early childhood to adults only. Other countries play the same video games as we do, yet they don’t have nearly the level of violence that we have in this country. I’ve never went out and committed atrocities I saw in a video game. So where does the problem actually lie?

I can only speak for myself. I’ve listened to and seen Manson, Ozzy, Slayer, and Alice Cooper live. They are all great entertainers who put on great shows. Not once have I thought that I should go out and harm anyone. Heavy metal gave me a place to belong. A place where I didn’t feel out of the normal. A way of venting my frustrations without hurting anyone. I don’t think this is necessarily the issue either.

We were burning people we thought were witches back in the 1690s. We were stoning, crucifying, and feeding people to lions before that. There were no video games, heavy metal, or movies during that time. Yet, we were still a nation of violence. Since we discovered this new land, slavery and genocide have been part of our heritage. The settlers in Jamestown used slavery as a means of production. Up until the end of the civil war, and when slavery was finally abolished, the southern economy thrived on slavery as an economic basis. There were many Native Americans that lived here long before we did. While we could have lived in peace and learned from them, we as English and European people decided to take a different route.

We forced them off their land, made them walk the trail of tears. We gave them new diseases and murdered anyone who stood up against us. We held African Americans as slaves up until the Civil War, and then we decided to fight against each other instead. Maybe the problem isn’t in our art industry, maybe the actual problems lie within us and our hatred of others who don’t agree with us or that are different than us. 

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