Why So Much Violence in Children Programming?
At the end of our day, we tend to unwind with a few hours of TV for better or worse. Right now, we’re really enjoying The Big Bang Theory, but I’ve been struggling to find decent children’s films. Watching these movies–even movies from when I was a child–I’m surprised at how much violence I see. These are supposed to be movies for children? We tried Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound” the other day, only to realize the movie is essentially about a gun-hunter trying to kill a fox (the soft, happy frolicking-through-the-meadow part ends shortly after the first 15 minutes). “Antz” came up as a recommendation on Netflix, so we tried it. The movie is about warfare. Ants being killed and splattered all over the screen. Even the most benign movies have little creatures hitting each other. Some movie we turned on had a cute little snail walking around…but not for long. In the next scene, a todler on a bicycle is trying to scrape him off the cement with his bicycle. I looked at my daugther’s little eyes watching the fast-paced (almost manic) editing and said to my husband, “Honey, can you fast forward this part? It’s too violent.” We ended up just turning it off.
A part of me really wants my daugther to grow up with some of the characters I adored when I was young, like the Little Mermaid, or Beauty and the Beast. There’s an enchanting quality to some of these stories that I really love. But in all honesty, I’ve found myself fastforwarding through at least 5 scenes in the Little Mermaid. Cinderella, Honey I Shrunk the Kids. I can’t say I remember having this kind of viceral reaction to watching these when I was young. I haven’t ever really thought much of what we watched as children. All I know is, we were watching Conan the Barbarian at ten years old (edited for TV at the time), and we turned out “okay.” But…I have to wonder, what was the purpose of seeing that as children?
Many of us choose lifestyles where the most violence we experience is road rage once in a while. But our children are being bombarded with all kinds of violent messages. We are so desensitized to it now that we don’t even notice the subconscious reactions of fear and anger that get buried into our brains through these moving images. The crazy thing is, reality is only what we make it. We have violence in the world because we choose it, we promulgate it, we keep it running 24/7 on our television sets. What kind of world could we create if our children didn’t watch the cat chasing after the mouse? We give ourselves so little credit for the tremendous power we wield to change the alignment of our realities. And we don’t have to make a huge deal about it; we don’t have to go out and protest television. Subtly saying “No,” and making a quiet, simple stand may go a long way. Just because “it’s always been” or people have had these stories in the past doesn’t mean they have ever been right. Let’s not use history to justify our reality. Let’s make existence what we want it to be: a time for discovering the immensity of the self.