Friday, February 18, 2005

Why wouldn't a kid feel it, too?

Many of my beloved TV shows and/or movies are of the ass-kicking variety. I love the slick ballet and soaring soundtrack of a good action movie. Metaphorically speaking, I love my (anti)heroes to clean a few clocks and settle a few scores on their way to the finish line. When the morality play is executed well enough that I disappear into it, which isn't as often as I pay for, I walk out of the theatre feeling like I'm still within my own movie. I feel above the world, hyperalert and dangerous.

As a thinking adult, I understand that split-second actions have lasting consequences, and real-world violence is a dirty, slippery grapple, not all choreography and predestined outcomes. But if I acknowledge the intoxication of those media borne moments of adrenaline-fueled invincibility, why wouldn't I assume that kids, subjected to the same stimuli, might feel the same way without as many barriers against acting it out?

Well, I do assume they feel the same. I haven't forgotten what it's like to rock in a band, to thrash in a pit at a show, to sense otherworldly phantoms created by the physiological detritus of adolescence, and to be frightened and thrilled by the hugeness of the world at 15. I still experience flashes of all of it. I can't decide whether parents who don't protect aginst this stuff are too seduced themselves or too forgetful. But my own responses are part of why I believe that kids need more peacefulness. They need quiet moments of slowly ripening revelations, not just to master the patience and concentration which are so currently compromised, but to balance the relentless, hard buzz of viscera-prodding that masquerades as harmless (or worse - educational) multimedia.

Video slaughter teaches eye-hand coordination. My Aunt Fanny! What about sports? You could get your eyes, hands, your whole body coordinated at once. Outside! You remember outside, don't you, Jimmy? The place you need your GameBoy or MP3 player to innoculate yourself against all that space and unprogrammed reality? Remember, where the sun is?

Fortunately for me, research is catching up with my anecdotal truth. I do think I'm special and unusual, but not that special. Here's a link to a nice summary by the sensibly outraged, ahead-of-the-crowd Melanie Phillips.

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