In light of the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, the Parents Television Council called on the entertainment industry not to dodge responsibility for the violent entertainment culture it has created, citing new research published in Psychology Today that suggests “exposure to violence in the media can increase children’s dangerous behavior around real firearms.”
New PTC research on comic book-themed TV shows with particular appeal to children found that young viewers were exposed to over 6,000 incidents of violence and over 500 deaths. The most violent program was CW’s Arrow during which young viewers witnessed 1,241 acts of violence, including 310 deaths, 280 instances of gun violence, and 26 scenes of people being tortured.
During the TCA press conference yesterday, The CW President Mark Pedowitz responded to the PTC’s call on the network to tone down the levels of graphic violence in these historically child-friendly comic book shows. According to CNN, Pedowitz said that “he and his staff are ‘very cognizant’ of the violence levels in their shows and have asked creators to tone things down if they think plots have gone too far.”
PTC President Tim Winter responded, saying, “While law enforcement dives deeply into the investigative work to understand what led to such wretched carnage in El Paso and Dayton, the nation returns to its all-too-familiar debate about guns, mental health and media violence. Hollywood points at the NRA for its powerful opposition to legislative remedies on firearms. The NRA points at Hollywood for its ubiquitous and romanticized gun violence in entertainment. Both sides point to mental health concerns. But here is something we probably don’t hear very often: Both sides have a valid point; and both sides also share culpability.
“The weight of scientific evidence suggests that there is no one single ‘cause’ for mass shootings; rather, there are a number of contributing factors, and exposure to violent media is among them. Shouldn’t we work to minimize each of the contributing factors? Don’t our children deserve that kind of measured and intelligent response?
“I’m disappointed – but hardly surprised – that the CW president would respond so indifferently. With the stroke of a pen, he could reduce the amount of graphic violence, and other explicit content, that is so prevalent in programming that is inherently appealing to children. We call on him to do just that.
“In an award-winning article, Los Angeles Times Columnist Mary McNamara took on the arguments that the industry uses to avoid responsibility for the impact their products have on our society. ‘To argue that entertainment does not impact culture is absurd. Hollywood doesn’t get to take credit for breaking ground with films such as ‘Philadelphia’ and shows like ‘Will & Grace’ or for that matter ‘Girls,’ only to wash its hands of more destructive attitudes,’ she wrote.
“She is right on the money. The growing violence in our society will only change if everyone takes responsibility for fomenting a culture saturated in media violence. Hollywood, it’s time for you to take the lead.”