Age and Politics

[warning, political thread, big paragraphs ahead. I’ll try to emphasize important parts]

[double warning: this thread also contains some adult language. if you can not handle adult language, please go find some other thread to read.]

A friend of mine and I were talking tonight, and that’s really quite often a dangerous thing. We’re both in our early-to-mid-twenties, and we started talking about politics. To be honest, any time you get me started on politics, I have a hard time shutting up about it; I spend a lot of my time watching MSNBC, CNN, Meet the Press, Face the Nation, and reading political websites and books. This time, however, we both broke into agreement on an issue that neither of us expected to agree on. In fact, this was an issue that we both held drastically different opinions on less than ten years ago.

<B><I>The fact is, now that we’re older, have seen more of the people and places in the world, and realize a little more about society, neither of us have any complaints about the laws that restrict the sale, rental, or showing of violent or otherwise graphic movies, games, or music to children. If anything, we now endorse those laws becoming more strict</I></B>. Neither of us are what one would consider conservative, so it’s a bit of a surprise to see both of us so drastically change our minds on the issue. The reason we’ve done so is identical, however; we’ve observed the children of this country. In travels, in conversations, in shopping malls and on the internet, we’ve met, heard of, and observed children, teenagers, and young adults all over the place. The main thing that we’ve gathered from it is that people truly aren’t as smart as we give them credit for. Are we saying that we’re somehow smarter than most people? Well, I’m not, though I’d say my friend is (after graduating as the salutatorian of his high school class when the valedictorian title was stolen from him by someone cheating their way through high school, he’s gone on to Johns Hopkins University, where he’s been on the dean’s list for seven semesters, and is probably going to graduate with honors this fall). That’s not our point. Our point is, <I><B>a lot of the kids out there really can’t handle the things that are censored from them</B></I>. Let’s look at some examples:

God of War (Playstation 2, rated M). If I wasn’t a gamer, and was simply a parent, I wouldn’t think twice about buying this game for my kids if there wasn’t a rating on it. It seems to be about mythology and whatnot. However, the game contains nudity, scenes with strong sexual conotations, and graphic violence. If I were a parent, I wouldn’t let my kids play this (if they were near 17, and appeared to know the difference between right and wrong, and between reality and fiction, I’d probably be lenient). As a citizen, I’m glad that most kids can’t buy this. If I’m in an R-rated movie and people in the movie start having sex, I always have to hear this group of teenagers somewhere in the audience start freaking out. Jesus, kids, it’s fucking sex. It’s a normal fucking act, and people do it all over the god damn world all the fucking time every single day. Calm <I>the fuck</I> down. What’s more, based on all of the kids that I see beating each other for no good reason, I wonder if the violent state of mind is caused by the world around them, or by the influence of movies and games. I guess I’ll never know.

Resident Evil (film, rated R). This film was rated R for violence, graphic scenes of horror, strong language, and nudity. If I were a parent, I wouldn’t let my kid see this (again, exception based on intelligence as stated above, but a parent should be the one to make that exception). The nudity doesn’t bother me, because it’s not done in a degrading or overtly sexual way. I actually think kids need to be introduced to nudity in non-degrading and non-sexual contexts at earlier ages than society currently allows, but that’s off topic. The violence and horror are really what would keep me from allowing my children from seeing it. Until a child has a firm grasp on the separation of reality from fantasy, it’s not a good idea to allow them to see such disturbing things. And, in the grand scheme of things, zombies are pretty tame compared to some of the movie monsters out there. In retrospect, if my parents hadn’t weened me on horror movies, maybe I wouldn’t have some of the insomnia and phobias that I have today. We’ll never know.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (film, rated R). Rated R for sexual themes, brief nudity, and some foul language (the word “fuck” is used once, and the word “dammit” is used some 8,000,000 times). I didn’t address it before, so I guess I will now. I don’t have a particular aversion to foul language (if you couldn’t tell!!! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :D), but I think that it does help shape what other people think of you. If you use “fuck” every other word, you don’t look quite as intelligent as if you use a more sophisticated vocabulary. I think that’s starting to change in society, but knowing other words always helps anyway. That being said, I wouldn’t keep my hypothetical kids from seeing a movie just because of language, unless it was <I>really</I> bad. It wouldn’t keep me from showing this film to my children, though. Would the sexual themes or brief nudity? No, not there either. Quite frankly, I <I>would</I> show this film to my children, probably around age 11-14. No, not just because I like the movie. If that were the case, I’d have no complaints about the other two. It’s simply that, with the guidance of a parent, this movie could be used to introduce the ideas of homosexuality, transgenderism, transsexualism, and open sexuality to a child without demonizing anything (and, with the proper wording, without glorifying anything, either). Of course, I wouldn’t take them to the theater to see it, they can wait until they’re 17 for that. Seriously, there’s no reason for someone under 17 to be in the theater at Rocky, Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ.

Grand Theft Auto (series, multi-console, rated M). We all know this one. Rated M for Blood, Gore, Violence, Strong Language, and Strong Sexual Content. No, I wouldn’t let my kids play this one (see above exception). The fact is, the concept of the game isn’t something kids should be exposed to. My brother lets my 5-year-old nephew play this game. It angers me, but my brother doesn’t care. Of course, that’s clearly not the worst thing my nephew sees at his house, but that’s another story altogether. The fact is, there’s too many things in this game that can influence the highly-suggestable in the wrong way. The game features beating of random pedestrians, theft, prostitution, gang violence, mob crimes, drug trafficking, etc, etc, etc. These certainly aren’t things we should be teaching our children, and there’s no good reason why a child should be able to buy it.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve all heard examples like these in the past. I simply think that there’s no benefit to opening up films, music, and games to be purchased by people of all ages. <B><I>If you’re intelligent enough to be able to handle the subject matter, have your parents buy it for you. If not, you don’t need it anyway. If your parents “don’t understand you” or won’t buy it for you for another reason, wait a couple of years and buy it for yourself</I></B>. Now that we’ve discussed the locally controversial subject, let’s discuss the globally (or at least nationally) controversial subject.

<B><I>We also happened to agree on current drug laws, tobacco laws, and alcohol laws staying as they are or becoming more strict</I></B>. Occasionally for different reasons (he’s going into medical school and knows a little more about the effects of these substances on the brain, particularly on the still-developing brain, ask Sin for more information there), but we shared many of the reasons. Many of our friends who experimented with drugs in high school continue to do them today, and have completely ostracized all of their former friends, simply because those friends don’t do drugs. Many of our friends who smoked in high school continue to smoke today, despite trying to quit several times, and despite already having smoking-related health problems. Many of our friends who drank in high school drink heavily today, far in excess of what would get someone drunk. Of course, none of these things are written in stone; some people who drink in high school quit as soon as they graduate, or as soon as they get their first real job, etc, etc. Many of you younger people, particularly those who disagree with us, would ask how being a couple of years older would effect the situation. Well, you may not believe me, but it does. <B><I>No, you’re not magically smarter or more able when you reach a certain age, but your responsibilities change. By the time you’re 21, you may have a job that you want to put effort into keeping, you may have an apartment you need to pay for, you may have a family for god’s sake</I></B>. If you have these things, and you drink, a good portion of your pay check goes to booze (or your vice of choice). If you’re at a certain level of addiction, you may end up spending more on your habit then on things that are more important to you. If you don’t start until you’re 21, you may realize that these other things are more important before you get addicted, and more rationally spend your money. Of course, there are they health benefits, too, and a myriad of other reasons. This is simply the most basic to explain.

That’s what I’ve got tonight. I expect to see plenty of people disagree with me, particularly those under age 21, 18, and 17. I’m going to hear these stories about how this doesn’t apply to you, and you’re smarter than whoever it is that we’re talking about. And, you know what? You may be right. I’m not trying to single out anyone, or name names of people. I’m not even saying that anyone here fits the example of these people who need to be protected that we’re talking about. I’m simply stating an opinion that has changed drastically over a period of less than ten years.

As much as I agree with pretty much everything you said, I think people’s actions and stupidity is more a cultural phenomenon than anything stimulated by the media.

I wouldn’t hesitate to buy my kids their games as long as they weren’t shit heads and I hope to god if I ever have kids that I won’t fuck them up and turn them into more drones.

I also don’t see much of a problem with having parents buy games since who pays for them anyway :stuck_out_tongue:

While I disagree with making the laws that cover entertainment even more strict, I do agree that these laws need to be enforced. M titles shouldn’t get sold to people below 17 (whatever, I live in a different system here). The responsibility should be with the parents to control what their children get to see. The problem with that is that it requires an active interest from parents into what their child is up to, the problems with which should be obvious <_<

I don’t really have much to say against harmful substances laws. While I’d prefer outright banning them in the first place, or severely restricting access to it, this will just cause more people to get them through illegal sources, through which it is easier to just get the hard stuff.

I pretty much agree with your entire post, Sat. But one thing has not been mentioned yet.

All the laws in the world aren’t going to stop a kid from doing what he wants. I knew plenty of kids under 18 in high school who smoked cigarettes. When I was underage, I used to pay homeless people $5 to buy alcohol for me. It’s not difficult to circumvent those laws.

I think that the government is trying to raise our kids for us. That is the parent’s job. They should control what the kid is exposed to or isn’t. My parents used to tell me growing up that the world is a dangerous place and you can’t trust people. They told me that I need to watch out for myself because you can’t expect anyone else to do it for you. And they were completely right. It made me wiser for it.

There is arguement to be made for exposing children to the raw, nasty truth of the world sooner than they are now. Maybe then, people would be less likely to blame forms of entertainment for the actions of an asshole kid who definitely did know better.

It’s true that no law will stop a kid from doing what he’s doing. But putting the laws in place, and enforcing them, sends a message that society frowns on a minor being exposed to this kind of thing. And if you’re a responsible parent and will reinforce that message, the kid will get the point that it’s not something he should be doing. If he insists on rebelling against that, well, he’s a kid, it’s what they do. But we shouldn’t make it easy for him.

Strong laws and proper parenting are both required.

Authoritative is the best!

I think there’s a point when a kid is “ready” which probably changes for every kid. But I dunno, I’ve been playing extremely violent/graphic games since I was like, 10. This one Duke Nukem game where you can go up to girls and click on them and they flash you is prolly the earliest game I can remember with both violent and sexual content. I’ve also been watching porn since then.

It’s weird though, whenever I hear about someone getting raped I feel like I wanna kill someone. But then, if I hear about someone dying, unless they’re close to me, I’m sort of indifferent. An example: 9/11 I was in 7th grade (I think it was 7th grade), and we watched the towers fall on TV. It might have been that I didn’t have a clue what was going on, but I just wasn’t bothered about it at all. I couldn’t figure out why my teachers were were so upset.

Oh yeah, I forgot to put this in my above post.

Look at the news! The news can be just as graphic and disturbing as almost any movie or video game. Plus it has the added significance of being real.

A kid can’t get into a rated R movie, but they can buy a newspaper.

How is fake violence worse than real violence?

See, what’s retarded is how people freak out at videogames when extremely gruesome movies are regularly made.

But kids can’t rent or get into gruesome movies either, hence the R rating. All people are saying is to make videogames equal to movies.

That’s a good point about the news, but movies and video games are nearly always more graphic in nature than news. Even newscasts tend not to show blood spurting, decapitated heads, the actual act of killing, etc., whereas “mature” movies and games lately seem to be outdoing themselves in trying to get as gory as possible.

I did mention, or tried to mention (it was really late… ;-_-) that society around us is pretty violent, and people may get violent tendancies from that rather than from pop culture, but it doesn’t help to desensitize people to it. And, yes, it is the parent’s responsibility to raise their children, but just having worked retail I learned that most parents simply don’t give a shit as long as their kids shut up. That’s why we need these laws, because parents don’t care. If parents aren’t going to care about their kids, then someone has to, or we’ll end up with a bunch of psychopaths.

I’m glad to see more agreement on this issue than disagreement. But then, not too many people have replied yet… -_-

[edit, cid posted before me]

News is regulated the same way all other network television is. They can’t show extreme gore or violence, but they can describe it. There are exceptions, such as the live footage on 9/11.

As for movies, protests typically <I>are</I> less strict about movies, and more graphic violence can get into a PG-13 movie than into a T rated game. For example, <I>The Ring</I> was rated PG-13. This upcoming <I>Stay Alive</I> movie is rated PG-13. If that kind of violence were in a T rated game, people would freak out. Also, very few movie theaters check age these days. But then, very few retail stores do, either.

Or how about the lack of any kind of concern about a rating system for books?

A 10 year-old could walk into any bookstore and buy a novel about drugs, murder, rape, etc.

Words can be just as bad as film. Worse even.

For example, some crazy kid has this urge to blow something up. One option would be to turn on GTA and go on a killing spree for a while. Murder some imaginary people, blow up some imaginary cars.

Another option would be to go to the bookstore and buy Steal This Book. Inside, he can find detailed instructions on how to make an explosive device. He could then take that real knowledge and make one of those devices, potentially harming or killing someone.

Of course, that is a radical example, but you see my point.

EDIT: In response to Cid, while the news typically avoids gore and the like, that doesn’t make it any less influential.

The footage of 9/11 is 1000x worse than anything I have ever seen in a movie, tv show, video game, book, or any other form of media.

Nothing he couldn’t find on some crazy website somewhere.

Books tend not to be censored as much as the more popular forms of entertainment because the people who write books are by and large much less violent by nature, it seems, than those who write rap lyrics, produce violent action movies, etc.

The truly scandalous books are so poorly known, I don’t remember the last time I heard of anyone reading say, Herbert Selby Jr., William S. Borroughs, or Bret Easton Ellis, reading these in anything less than an ernest literary sense. Of course, fiction authors tend to have atleast some socially responsible undercurrent under the grit and grime.

I would hope that parents would intervene before then, but your point is taken. Perhaps books need some sort of warnings, though I think a rating system across the entire publishing industry would be nearly impossible.

I think there are more options than the two you mentioned. I’d rather someone do neither of those things, and if people pay attention to that person and their problems, they shouldn’t have to do either of those things. Again, the rules aren’t for the bad kids, though, they’re for the bad parents, so I simply don’t know what to say in response to that.

As a side note about rap lyrics:

People who single out only rap lyrics to criticize are racist. Listen to the lyrics from some hardcore punk bands. Now listen to some death metal lyrics. Those are two genres with primarily white artists. There are just as violent, just as offensive lyrics in all those types of music.

Rap happens to be the most popular type of music in the US right now, so that could be why it receives more attention. But there are plenty of non-violent hip-hop artists who’s lyrics aren’t offensive, and even have a good message. Mos Def, Talib Kweli, De La Sol, and Common for example. Those artists are ignored by the anti-rap people.

Rappers get a bad name because they talk about drugs and violence. But how can you criticize someone for talking about their life experiences? Sure, rapper A might be flowing about selling crack, but that is because he actually had to sell crack to survive.

A good deal of hip-hop artists grew up in projects and ghettos, being exposed to really bad stuff from day one. That shows in their art. But hearing about it isn’t the same as experiencing it. So if a kid who grew up in the ghetto, listening to rap music ends up selling drugs on the street corner, it probably isn’t because he listens to rap, it’s probably because he grew up in the ghetto.

I’m ambivalent about it. On the one hand, its pretty much been proven that videogames and TV can make kids more violent. On the the other, I’m against censorship. I think censoring some things when minors are concerned is reasonable - of course, I think enforcing the maturity laws is sort of pointless because of all the violent and sexual media that kids can find on TV or the Internet. Will depriving them of Grand Theft Auto really solve the problem?

It should be the parent’s responsability to care for their child, not the government. If we allow the government to step in to determine what is "right"in our media for children, then who is to say they won’t step in to determine what is “right” for us? By whose standard are we going to deem something “appropriate?” A senator’s standard? A lawyer’s? A soccer mom’s?

Though the kids need censorship, that’s not my point. My point is that many parents across this country don’t care to watch their kids. Also, many kids across this country aren’t as smart as the populace here, and couldn’t handle these things. It’s not an issue of government or anyone else enforcing their ideas upon people and their children. As I said, if a parent thinks their child can handle something, they should be allowed to give/show that thing to their child. However, if a parent doesn’t know either way, and doesn’t care, then maybe that child should have free reign until someone finds out.

No, depriving a child of Grand Theft Auto won’t solve the problem, it requires proper parenting as well. However, if the parent isn’t there, and doesn’t care about what the child does, isn’t it at that point society’s place to step in and care? Isn’t that why we have child endangerment laws? This is just a smaller step along the way.

Books and news can be violent, but describing something and viscerally showing it are two very, very different things. The issue, as Sat said, is desensitization, and as I said, sending a message that the things featured in these games and movies is not condoned.

The question of whose “standards” we want is a good one, and one that pretty much can’t be answered, except “we try to gauge society as a whole, and find a standard that most of society would agree kids shouldn’t be exposed to”. That’s an ideal, of course.

I’m sorry, I know this is a serious thread, but I just had to point out how funny this paragraph is if you read the word “fuck” in the context of “fuck = to have sex” every time in this paragraph. “It’s just FUCKING sex. As opposed to not-fucking sex.” “It’s a normal FUCKING act; they weren’t even doing it doggystyle” etc. etc. :stuck_out_tongue: Okay, continue.

I’m sorry, I know this is a serious thread, but I just had to point out how funny this paragraph is if you read the word “fuck” in the context of “fuck = to have sex” every time in this paragraph. “It’s just FUCKING sex. As opposed to not-fucking sex.” “It’s a normal FUCKING act; they weren’t even doing it doggystyle” etc. etc. :stuck_out_tongue: Okay, continue.[/QUOTE]

I have duly noted your comment and have replaced every instance of “fuck” as well as various other random words in MrSaturn’s post with “pope”.