Ordinarily, a parent would think that a new TV program based in a comic book universe would be a welcome addition to the prime time line up. It might even be the type of show that the whole family could watch together, right?
Despite some requisite concerns about fantasy violence, FOX broadcast’s new-for-the-fall program Gotham certainly seemed to fit that type.
That is, until its Executive Producer, Bruno Heller, gave some hints about what to expect in his new show.
“Asked about the disturbing nature of the violence on “Gotham,” given that the series revolves around a bunch of characters that have traditionally appealed to children, Heller asserted that violence should be presented in a jarring way.”
So Heller believes that violence should be “jarring,” even when it’s presented to kids?
“Violence, when you show it, should be disturbing,” Heller insisted, adding that painting violence as disturbing is “the only moral way” to portray it.”
Let’s get this straight – not only should violence be “jarring” and “disturbing,” but it’s morally correct to present material in such a way? This just is not so. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “extensive viewing of television violence by children causes greater aggressiveness… children who view shows in which violence is very realistic, frequently repeated or unpunished are more likely to imitate what they see.”
Mr. Heller, Gotham is not an anti-violence public service announcement: it’s a commercial television program to be broadcast into every living room in the country via the publicly-owned airwaves. The purpose of the program is to build an audience and, ultimately, make money for the network via advertising dollars spent to buy airtime during the show.
Why alienate your would-be audience by guaranteeing “disturbing… jarring” violence during a program that will naturally appeal to children?
Parents shouldn’t worry, Heller went on:
“Even so, Heller noted, “Gotham” being a network show, he’s working under “the full understanding that Fox will keep us within the standards” that the network deems appropriate.”
Mr. Heller, there is great potential in your new show to tell a morality tale and to make clear distinctions between good and evil. This is so often the case in comic book universes and that’s a big part of the reason why they are staples of American entertainment. What a shame it would be to squander that opportunity in a misguided attempt to be “edgy.”