Rockefeller sustains the media violence drumbeat


John RockefellerSenate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) has made it clear that a probe into the role of television content will be undertaken at some point this year. He kept the issue alive at a conference outside the Beltway in the state he represents.

Rockefeller participated in a roundtable with parents, experts, advocate and members of the entertainment community to discuss violent programming and video games.

 “Our children are constantly bombarded with violent images on television and in movies and video games,” Rockefeller said. “For busy parents, monitoring every minute of their kids’ lives simply isn’t possible – so we need to arm parents and other responsible adults with the best available information about violent media.  We also need more answers about what this exposure is doing to kids’ impressionable minds and emotions, and I pledge to do everything possible to get those answers.”

Rockefeller has introduced The Violent Content Research Act of 2013, which if enact will instruct the National Academy of Sciences to study the issue.

A summary of the bill’s intent states, “Specifically, NAS would examine whether violent video games and programming cause kids to act aggressively or have other harmful effects, and whether that effect is distinguishable from other types of media.  It also would look at the direct and long-lasting impact of violent content on a child’s well-being. With respect to violent video games, N AS must look at whether current or emerging aspects of games, like their interactive nature and the personal and vivid way violence is portrayed, have a unique impact on kids. NAS would be asked to recommend areas for future research and would be required to submit a report on its investigation within 15 months to Congress as well as to the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Health and Human Services.”

RBR-TVBR observation: It is virtually impossible to tie media content to human acts in any meaningful way. Many young couples have no doubt seen “Romeo and Juliet” and survived the incident without any thought of using them as role models in regards of what to do when parental approval is hard to come by.

If media violence is as pervasive as some critics say, then we’re all seeing it and it is not making us violent. It just isn’t.

Maybe there is something that can be done to stem the tide of actual violence in American society. This author has a number of opinions on that topic, and so no doubt do those of you reading this – and this is the wrong forum for the debate so we will simply not go there.

But the debate should not center on media violence. Maybe it is part of the overall picture, and maybe it isn’t. At most, it’s a small part – and getting the small part past the question of whether or not media violence is a reflection or a cause of events in real life will be the first hurdle that social scientists will find difficult if not impossible to clear.

So talk about media if you want – but please do not use it as an excuse to avoid discussing the other things that are far more central to the debate: guns, ammunition and mental health.