My fave publication is the Economist, and of all its writing, primus inter pares, the first among equals, or the very best of the lot, are the editorials (leaders). This week's Economist (20 Jan 2007) has an editorial on violent videogames and the rush to ban them. The Economist entitles it "Don't Shoot the Messenger"
And this is one of the classics. I have to quote as I can't do justice to the story without getting the language just right:
"They poison the mind and corrupt the morals of the young, who waste their time sitting on sofas immersed in dangerous fantasy worlds. That, at least was the charge levelled against novels during the 18th century by critics worried about the impact of a new medium on young people."
Reading that, I already knew this was a keeper, a classic Economist editorial. Yes I'm an old fogie with graying hair, but even I'm not that old that I was around to see the outrage against novels, FICTION BOOKS of the 1700s.... In my youth in the 1960s and 1970s we were accused of being spoiled by rock and roll and TV and comic books. But apparently this is really an "old record" being replayed generation after generation. And sure enough. The Economist:
"In 1816 waltzing was condemned as a "fatal contagion" that encouraged prmiscuity; in 1910 films were denounced as "an evil pure and simple, destructive of social interchange." In the 1950s rock 'n' roll music was said to turn young people into devil worshippers and comic books were accused of turning children into drug addicts and criminals."
I gotta love the Economist. This is exactly the kind of insightful reporting with the context, and reflecting the fact that the Economist itself is a publication with enormous heritage from 1842. So yes, historical comparisons to waltzing and the introduction of cinema are most valid. (By the way Alan, you were big into rock and roll, did you turn into a devil worshipper?)
The Economist goes on to explain that new media are adopted by the younger generations, and distrusted by their elders. But as these generations grow up, they also bring with them an acceptance. Current parents see nothing wrong with rock and roll or comic books, but they might think "gansta rap" corrupts the mind or yes, that while in their generation they saw all kinds of violent cop shows on nightly TV with car chases, crashes, murders, fights. Why would a modern kid with a fighting videogame or a car chase game be any different. Kids two hundred years ago read about Hornblower - not car chases but chases by sail ships - and Frankenstein with plenty of murders.
So yes, it comes as no surprise that the usually very conservative Economist comes on the side of gaming, saying it is just the latest type of entertainment, escape for this generation. We should let those games, no matter how violent they might be, to be sold. But yes, there should be age limits, like we have age limits on movies and rules on what can be shown on prime time TV.
I really enjoyed this editorial. So even WALTZES? the most boring slow, tedious, formal form of dancing? Was once thought of as promoting promiscuity. Funny!