Friday, August 26, 2011

Transforming the Devil Within -- Writer's Poke #304

Rage lives inside each of us. How to best learn to deal with that rage is the question. Gerard Jones in “Violent Media Is Good for Kids” suggests that contemporary society has taught us to fear our emotions. As a result, we try to ignore our feelings, or keep them bottled up. Doing so, not surprisingly, isn’t a very healthy approach, and it can be quite damaging.

Participating in violent fantasies can be empowering. Does this statement cause us discomfort, and if so, why? Jones claims that all children experience rage, and the problem isn’t rage itself, but the way we learn to deal with our feelings. Pretending that rage doesn’t exist does not help us to “master” our feelings. And therefore when the rage surfaces, it is the rage that takes control – just as when the Hulk emerges, he assumes complete control over Bruce Banner. Children that participate in violent fantasies acknowledge the devil within, but unlike Bruce Banner, they are able to keep the devil in check by this act of acknowledgement.

How do you handle rage? What techniques might you practice to ensure that your “Bruce Banner” persona keeps your “Hulk” in check?

“Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes; fools by their own.” -- H. G. Bohn

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Bubble Defense -- Writer's Poke #303

Do Americans find violence glamorous? Are we a violent society?

In “Aggression: The Impact of Media Violence,” Sissela Bok concludes that it’s too simplistic to blame any single cause for the increased level of violence being perpetuated in contemporary American society. It would be far too simple to blame television. Just because MacGyver shows how to make a “cold capsule bomb,” for example, doesn’t mean that everyone who watches is then going to immediately go out and make cold capsule bombs by the millions.

On the other hand, Bok does seem to suggest that kids are not fully mature, and therefore, they haven’t learned to “resist” their more aggressive basic instincts. She indicates that it should be a child’s “birthright” to be protected. Protected from what? Not images of violence, per se, but protected from his or her own immature reaction to violence. It’s a subtle difference, but Bok indicates that media, specifically TV, “affect this learning process from infancy on, in many homes.”

A fully-mature adult may be able to handle watching Natural Born Killers, but it may be too much for the average 12 year old to handle. Natural Born Killers, however, may be the extreme example. So it leads us back to a much more fundamental question: How do we best protect children from the bombardment of violent images that threaten to damage their ability to mature into peaceful, non-violent adults?

Should children be kept in protective “bubbles” for their own good? Or, is there a way to inoculate children to the violent images to which they will inevitably be exposed?

“You have to show violence the way it is. If you don’t show it realistically, then that’s immoral and harmful. If you don’t upset people, then that’s obscenity.” – Roman Polanski