This comment is by Dan on the post Act of Valor and Acts of Violence.
I think the bigger issue here is not what young men watch for entertainments sake, but they way they are taught to resolve conflict and express pain.
If male video game players were shooting up schools and then saying things like “Well the games got boring, and I had to get my kicks somehow…” then there might be an argument that violent entertainment (and video games in particular) were somehow related to real life violence.
The facts are however, that most school shootings perpetrators have been systematically hurt–socially, emotionally, or physically–and have found no protection from the systems/institutions that are suppose to (school, mentors, parents, etc.).
Simultaneously, we teach them “Big boys don’t cry”, “Don’t get mad, get even”, “Be a man and solve the problem yourself”. We teach that men solve problems with violence, that men protect themselves and their friends with violence, that men Right the Worlds Wrongs with violence.
The only link I could imagine between Act of Valor and this incident presents itself in this final category. Boys and young men watch the news, watch movies, and read newspapers; they see our countries leaders proclaiming things like “Osama attacked our country, he committed a wrong against us, for that we will kill him.” They see op-eds explaining “Saddam Hussein is a terrible dictator. He oppresses his people. And for that he will die.” They observe the death penalty and observe they same “final punishment”.
Our society reinforces the notion that transgression shall be met with punishment, and that ultimate transgression is met with death, the ultimate punishment. We glorify Seal Team 6, laude all our men and women in uniform, and then wonder why kids get the message that killing is ok sometimes, and that Bad People deserve to die.
As with every school shooting, instead of asking “what prompted this absurd act of violence?” and then externalizing it and blaming faceless constructs like Movies and Video Games I think we should ask harder questions like, “where was this child’s support structures?” or “who was there to talk with him?” or “Why does our society praise violence?”
An apt exerpt from Bowling for Columbine:
Michael Moore: “If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine…what would you say to them if they were here right now?
Marylin Manson: “I wouldn’t say a single word to them. I would listen to what they have to say, and that’s what no one did.”
photo: AP, tv image from Bowling for Columbine