by Holly Chou
A lot of jokes go around these days that our generation
is raised by our surrogate parents, the television.
They call us the MTV generation, say that we don't know
any better than to imitate idiots, and, frankly, a lot
of us live up to that standard. We emulate our favorite
television personalities and copy a few catch phrases,
and sometimes it gets us in trouble. But people seem
to think that we really believe in everything that TV
tells us, and hold it to be some kind of example to
live up to. But are we really that easily influenced?
Granted, a lot of people out there are morons. But I
think that we deserve more credit than that.
While checking out Planet Namek's Gundam Wing message
board one day, I came across a post with the topic,
"Related to GW... I think.... Stupid Mom..."
The gist of it pretty much leads to a topic that a lot
of people have a lot to say on, including me. It's been
said before and it will be said again, but the truth
is that a lot of adults today assume that violent and
problematic teenagers are a result of influential media.
A lot of the accumulated hostility is directed toward
anime, for its often violent or mature content. One
result is the heavy censorship inflicted on such cartoons
as DBZ (and I know you know what I'm talking about),
and another result is the overreaction to real life
event by adults everywhere.
Reading over the GW thread, people mentioned suspensions,
expulsion, and other heavy punishment because of the
occurrence of minor incidents like careless personal
comments, or tasteless jokes. Because of something in
a personal e-mail to a friend, one student may even
face suspension because of indirect reference to atheism
(in a signature quote from Gundam Wing).
Is the adult world so overprotective and the teenage
population so untrusted that we feel the need to keep
ourselves so sheltered? This is not a fluke, occurring
in only one school, one time. Nor are the incidents
of blame exclusive to anime. They are apparent everywhere,
and popular media of all kinds is blamed for it. Overreaction
to simple mistakes causes a lot of trouble for administration
and for the people making those mistakes. I myself,
a 4.0 student whose worst offense up until this year
was a tardy, was suspended for three days around October
because I wrote some notes a friend and they were found
by a teacher, who believed that our words alluded to
threatening someone's life. While punishment was not
completely undue, because some of the remarks my friend
and I made were in very bad taste, and very disrespectful,
nowhere in there did we talk about shooting a teacher,
which is apparently what it sounded like we were threatening.
All kinds of presumptions, jumping to conclusions, and
false connections are made all the time to make things
sound worse than they are, "for our own protection",
perhaps, but much to our dismay as well.
A great many various incidents have led up to our schools
and parents being so overprotective, in attempt to prevent
another Columbine. But they should understand that unfortunate
occurrences like that are the exception, and not the
norm. And certainly, blame will not be found solely
in the form of the entertainment that we choose. How
stupid would we be to derive our life philosophies from
a television show? And while "violent" media
may desensitize us, I truly believe that that is as
far as it goes. Desensitize, yes. Provoke? Inspire?
Exemplify? I think not. If you are impressionable enough
to glean all deep meaning in your life from something
you see on television (which has probably been reduced
to a ten-second sound bite anyway), then something is
wrong with that picture, and it doesn't have to do with
whatever show you're watching. If you lack the sense
to distinguish between fantasy and reality, then maybe
your parents should stop blaming the TV and take a look
at why their kid is naive enough to place so much value
on the word of a cartoon character.
I believe the best argument was made by another resident
of the PN message board, a guy by the name of Destro
(The words of his post are reproduced verbatim and with
"Parents NEED to realize that music/tv/video games
do not make kids violent. If they would actually take
time away from their busy, busy lives and just talk
to their kids, things wouldn't be so bad. I grew up
on violent cartoon and games, and I managed to get through
high school without killing anyone, or even getting
in a fight. The problem with society is that no one
takes responsibility for their inept parenting and points
the finger at the easy target: the media. That way,
everyone blames those violent tv shows and never considers
that it may be because their parents weren't there to
explain the difference between fantasy and reality,
or teach them how to deal with their anger and frustration.
I get mad pretty easily, and sure, sometimes I want
to beat the hell out of whoever happens to be in my
way, but I never do it because I don't want to hurt
anyone. I know where I got my temper from, not tv, but
from my father who has an explosive temper.
And you know what? Some kids are just genuinely ****ed
up. But that doesn't mean every kid will do the same
thing. Parents and teachers are trying to protect their
children (as well as themselves), but that does not
excuse the extreme measures being taken these days.
You can't stop kids from being violent by taking away
the things they like and imposing strict rules and regulations,
stifling their God-given freedom. If kids are already
mentally unstable, this will only serve to piss them
off even further, and may lead to increased acts of
violence in retalliation.
The only thing WE can do is learn from our previous
generation's mistakes. Soon our generation will be in
control, we will make the rules, and we will deem what
is appropriate and what isn't for our own children.
We must learn to take time to be with our kids and teach
them about what is right and wrong, and how to handle
things such as anger, violence, death, sex, etc, and
not leave them to fend for themselves. If people would
just talk to their kids, then maybe we wouldn't have
all these restrictions forced upon us, and maybe, just
maybe, we could all get along a little better."
This is something that many people feel strongly about,
and not all of them share my own opinion. There are
just as many people who feel that such precautions are
necessary in today's world, and they have every right
to disagree with me. But for every person that looks
leery-eyed at the weird cartoon with the big-eyed children,
or peers warily at a Japanese symbol that bears a minor
resemblance to a swastika (this is a reference to "Censorship!
What's Censorship?" by Brad Richards, located on
Daizenshuu EX's editorial page), or even shivers looking
at a picture of Marilyn Manson, for that matter, there
is another person who just wants to watch/listen to/buy
something they think is cool without being branded a