MediaWise With Dr. Dave
Sometimes words fail us. When we fall in love, when our kids take
their first steps, and in other times of joy it can seem that our
vocabularies are inadequate to express our emotions. Words may not
seem enough in times of sorrow, anger or disgust either. Some events,
some things, and some feelings are just too powerful to be encapsulated
by a word or a phrase. Because words pale in comparison to what
we try to describe, we give up trying to express it at all.
And then there are the times that we know exactly what we need to
say, but we just don't have the right word to say it. I've had that
feeling a lot lately as I've kept track of the rising tide of extreme
violence in the entertainment media. Depictions of grisly, brutal
violence are prevalent in every form of entertainment media, from
video games to movies, from pop songs to TV shows. There should
be a word that describes this kind of violence that has become so
popular with media-makers in recent decades.
We have the word pornographic-it refers to the graphic depiction
of sexual acts-but we don't have a word for the graphic depiction
of brutal violence. I propose that we add the word killographic
to the English language. Killographic entertainment is an epidemic
in this country, and if we want to stop its harmful effects from
hurting our kids, we need to start by putting a name to it.
Recently, while we were putting together the Eighth Annual MediaWise
Report Card, we came across a game called Manhunt. This game, like
last year's popular Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, is so filled with
hyper-real scenes of disturbing violence, it seems to be in a different
category from nearly anything else available. These games' extreme
killographic depictions of butchering fellow human beings compel
me to do what some might consider butchering the English language.
Parents know that exposing their children to pornography is irresponsible
and harmful. In recent years, study after study has suggested that
exposure to killographic media has a powerful negative impact on
kids' behavior, brain development, and future life choices. Rating
systems and reviews can give parents the information about media
choices to protect their kids. That's why MediaWise parents who
want what is best for their children keep killographic entertainment
out of their homes and lives.
Giving a name to the insidious practice of portraying horrifying
death and violence won't instantly stop this kind of entertainment
from appearing on TVs, in theaters, and on video screens. But calling
killographic depictions by a name that reminds us that they are
just as extreme and age-sensitive as pornographic scenes will help
us to the next step: keeping our kids safe and telling the media
moguls that enough is enough.
Ph.D. is the president and founder of the National Institute on
Media and the Family (www.mediafamily.org). He has written seven
books and is a frequent guest on national radio and television.