Barbarism And Barbie

Ken AshfordSex/Morality/Family ValuesLeave a Comment

I don’t have much patience for scientists who insist that violent video games lead to violence in children.  Yesm, I know — there are plenty of those studies, so it must be true. 

And politicians — including Hillary Clinton — are happy to jump on the "family values" bandwagon, as evidenced by her bill to protect children from violent video games.  In Illinois, they even consider Super Mario Brothers to be violent.

A few initial thoughts: To the extent that these games are a bad influence on children, since when does government get into the child-rearing business?  What happened to, you know, the parents?  How hard is it to control what software goes in to the family computer?

But let’s also be somewhat realistic.  Kids are violent.  It’s what they do.  Even in the innocent pre-computer days, kids played "cops and robbers" or "cowboys and indians".  And it usually involved people shooting at each other.  That’s mock violence, just as much as pressing a button and shooting a cartoony character on a video monitor.  So what?!?

31218561_0c1c32a734_mLook, if your desire is to prevent kids from acting violently, then you are going to have to do far more than banning Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.  For example:

BARBIE, that plastic icon of girlhood fantasy play, is routinely tortured by children, research has found.

The methods of mutilation are varied and creative, ranging from scalping to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving, according to academics from the University of Bath.

That’s Barbie — about as innocent and passive a toy as they come. 

So maybe it’s not violent toys we should be banning.  Even innocuous toys are subject to violence.  Maybe are children act violently because children are violent.  And if you’re looking for a scapegoat, why not society-at-large?