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Author Topic: The Subtle Power of Hollywood
Mynnion
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I have been thinking allot lately about the cultural changes that I have seen in society.

Like our children we don't see the changes that occur day by day the changes in media have been gradual but significant over time. Watch a remake of a movie and look at how a story that contained mild romance and violence now has to have graphic violence and sex.

I am not a prude but when I turn on the TV I see disrespect, rude behavior, casual sex (OK maybe I am a little prudish), and profanity shown as normal and funny. Quality literature and film used to stop at the bedroom door recognizing that the details were not necessary to portray the story. Violence was shown only as needed rather than today’s in-your-face method.

I remember reading about all the churches that condemned Harry Potter as a tool of the devil. I think they would do a much better job looking the junk blasting kids daily rather than fussing about a book that children know is pure fiction.

I am not saying I want to turn back the clock to the 1950s (they had a whole different set of problems) but I do wish that Hollywood would stop telling kids that they need "things" to make them happy, that it is OK to be rude, that they have to be in constant contact with their friends, that divorce is OK if you "Fall out of Love." Marriage is commitment sex should not be casual; life is about more than self.

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Ilmari
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People have always complained about how everything's more sexualized and violent in entertainment today than it was in some mythical past.

I think if you look at the history of performance entertainment, from early Greek plays to Shakespeare to turn of the century vaudeville, you'll find that they had lots of sex and violence in them too - often quite graphically depicted.

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Mynnion
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Yes, you are correct but it was not that way when I grew up. Literature did not need extraneous sex or violence to sell books. Watch shows or movies from the 50-80s and although there were exceptions the majority provided clean humor. Sex was insinuated sometimes but not graphically portrayed.
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Everard
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The MPAA decided to make smoking in a movie have a negative effect on the rating (driving it higher). Why? Because it would encourage kids to smoke. Their reasoning, not mine. Yet, the same MPAA happily gives grissly movies graphically depicting gruesome acts of violence in loving detail lower and lower ratings.

Pretty much everyone who studies the issue seriously knows that watching hollywoodized violence makes people more prone to commit violent acts, or to be less concerned when violent acts are perpetrated. The issue is only doubted by people who think common sense is a replacement for evidence.

The fact that violence and sexuality have existed in every society's entertainment is no reason to endorse it the way hollywood and the MPAA do. We seriously need a better rating system, and one that is not governed by the people who make the movies.

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bombasto
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Your point is best illustrated by the fact that you think you may be prudish for disapproving of such things. Your grandparents would likely be amused.

The trap I find myself in when I consider throwing the boob tube out the window is that I think I might actually do my kids a disservice by sheltering them from the world when what they really need is to practice making good choices.

The obvious stuff is really no problem because my kids know that it is off limits and they have no desire to consume it. What I think is most destructive are the subtle sophistications that creep into children's programming. I've noticed a trend of creating worlds where parents either don't exist or are marginalized and kids make all their important decisions based on some wacky Hollywood wisdom.

Fortunately, there are counter influences like family time, church attendance, scouting, community sports, homework and school reading assignments that sometimes combine to keep them too busy for TV -- if only I can keep up.

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scifibum
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quote:
"Pretty much everyone who studies the issue seriously knows that watching hollywoodized violence makes people more prone to commit violent acts, or to be less concerned when violent acts are perpetrated. The issue is only doubted by people who think common sense is a replacement for evidence.
Well, my common sense is telling me that the people who let their kids watch whatever they want are probably more likely to be crappy parents in general. Is that what you're talking about? Are there studies that have controlled for the obvious factors like violence in the home, parental presence, external influences from church and community activities? I'll accept a "yes" - not asking you to source it.
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Everard
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yeah, there have been.

pre-and post exposure to violence studies have been done where how people's responses differ immediately following viewing of violence from prior to viewing.

[ October 10, 2007, 08:50 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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scifibum
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Thanks. Well, I can attest that after watching movies like Gladiator and Braveheart I felt differently about violence than before, on a gut level. Kind of an adrenaline thing I guess. So that much makes sense to me too.
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kenmeer livermaile
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Hollywood came along just in time to provide the collective unconscious memory Jung hypothesized.

As for rating systems... yawn. False sense of security, says I. Not that I discount a whit the influence of virtual realities on human minds. But more important, methinks, is being able to openly talk about such things with one's children.

Most of all, is the daily reality of the children experiencing the virtual reality.

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Jesse
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quote:
Pretty much everyone who studies the issue seriously knows that watching hollywoodized violence makes people more prone to commit violent acts, or to be less concerned when violent acts are perpetrated. The issue is only doubted by people who think common sense is a replacement for evidence.
I think that depends on how the violence is presented, rather than the mere fact of violence.

To use two extremes -

Braveheart, Mel hacking people up, makes violence look cool.

Watching Indian protestors get their heads cracked open one after the other in front of the salt mines in Ghandi? Probably not so much [Wink]

Maybe it's not really here nor there, since violence is so generally presented as something heroes do as well as villians, but I think it's worth mentioning that the context matters.


Recommended viewing for those who can handle brief shots of genitalia and an awful lot of humor.

This Film is Not Yet Rated

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Yes, you are correct but it was not that way when I grew up. Literature did not need extraneous sex or violence to sell books.
When did you grow up?
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Mynnion
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I made my appearence on this earth the year Kennedy was shot. There was at that time a degree of sex and violence in literature but not the full scale invasion we have now.

Watch even shows on Disney and you will see Middle School kids with boy friends and girl friends. They worry about how they look and dress. How many kids without money are shown. Young teens are pushed to become sex symbols. If you have any doubts think about all the child stars that end up messed up on drugs and alcohol.

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Ilmari
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quote:
Originally posted by Mynnion:
I made my appearence on this earth the year Kennedy was shot. There was at that time a degree of sex and violence in literature but not the full scale invasion we have now.

Watch even shows on Disney and you will see Middle School kids with boy friends and girl friends. They worry about how they look and dress. How many kids without money are shown. Young teens are pushed to become sex symbols. If you have any doubts think about all the child stars that end up messed up on drugs and alcohol.

Again, I think you have a way more idealized view of the past than what existed in reality.

You do realize that it used to be common in the late 60's and 70's to show pornographic films like Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door in mainstream theaters, something that would never happen today. Heck, it's estimated that Deep Throat get about $100 million during its theatrical run, making it one of the most successful films of the decade.

The late 60's and seventies was also a golden period for exploitation flicks and grindhouse fare with plenty of sex and gorey violence. Most people just remember the oscar winners and 'classics' from that era, but make no mistake, sex and violence at high levels were definately in the mainstream by that point.

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KnightEnder
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Excellent topic, Mynnion. I can't wait to get caught up and join the discussion. Tomorrow. [Smile]

KE

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Mynnion
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I am not arguing that these existed. I am stating that they were not mainstream. I grew up rading every new Scifi and fantasy novel that came out. Yes it was there but it did not have the prevelance that it has today. The movie industry commonly adds vulgar language and sexual themes to give a movie the "PG13" stamp even if it is totally out of context with the story.

Name me one childrens show from that time period where children were sexualized. The violence on TV was not as graphic. I remember when MASH was considered too sexual and adult for children.

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philnotfil
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We aren't watching the evening news very much right now because there is a commercial for some halloween event that scares my son. As soon as it comes on he runs and hides behind the couch. We never know when it is going to be on, so we just don't watch the news. A couple of months ago they played a clip that included the f-bomb without bleeping it.

I gave up on entertainment television long ago, but it saddens me to have to stop watching the news with my family. That was an important part of my childhood, and an important learning tool. When I was kid we would watch the news and talk about what was happening, and where it was happening, and what it had to do with us, or our city, or our state, or the nation. I want to do that with my kids, but I don't think that we will be able to.

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TomDavidson
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Why not just TIVO everything?
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philnotfil
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I don't have a TIVO? (or cable for that matter)
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TomDavidson
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Hrm. That would probably be a forgivable reason. For me, a DVR means never having to see a commercial again.
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KnightEnder
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I remember when my mom wouldn't let us watch SOAP, because of all the sex and "gayness". (Billy Crystal) [Smile] Looking back on them now; Hawkeye was a dog, and Trapper an adulterer. Even Saint BJ slipped up once. (Stacy never forgave him. [Frown] True story.) (We used to watch three episodes of MASH before bed every night. I didn't realize how pinko preachy they were at the time. But they are still hilarious.)

KE

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kenmeer livermaile
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Since sex has been released from its artificial Victorian corset, there have been noticeable rebounds. BUt they are at least natural, and can therefore be rationally apprehended. Not so the old Victorian mores, which were based on a form of cultural insanity.
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guinevererobin
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I grew up watching R-rated movies full of sex and violence, because my dad said (whenever my mom objected to me watching Pulp Fiction or Deliverance or whatever), "It's a violent world, she might as well get used to it now."

But then, we all know how I turned out. [Wink]

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Mynnion
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Hopefully getting ready for your honeymoon. But since I personally like PG we'll stop at the bedroom door. Have a great time.
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NSCutler
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One of the best parts of This Film is Not Yet Rated came from a documentarian whose war documentary got an NC-17. He pointed out that the MPAA distinguishes between violence where there is blood and gore and violence where there is no visible blood and decides the former is not suitable for children but that the latter is. The director points out that it should be the opposite. Children have a blurred sense of fantasy and reality. Bloodless, non-messy violence is a fantasy, one that only adults should be exposed to.

A kid who watches 'The Lone Ranger' is given no reason not to pick up a gun and shoot weapons out of the bad guys hands. A kid who watches 'The Wild Bunch' is going to be seriously traumatized, but he isn't going to think a gun is something that it's not.

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ngthagg
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I can't help much with TV, but for movies check out kidsinmind.com

I'm not sure how they come up with their overall scores, but the detailed reviews simply list everything that might be objectionable. I've seen listings for dancing and holding hands under sexual content. The reader, of course, is free to pick and choose what's important.

The descriptions are written to be as spoiler free as possible. I find that a typical trailer ruins as more of the movie then these reviews do.

They also provide a message for each movie, which can be good for a laugh. (The best ones are for slasher flicks, in my opinion.)

ngthagg

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Jesse
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Mynnion, I'm really really really hoping for that poor boys sake that Guine didn't see Pulp Fiction and Deliverance as "getting ready for her honeymoon".


Unless he's into that sort of thing. I'm not here to judge.

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Mynnion
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What a scary thought. I wonder if he knows what he has gotten himself into.
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kenmeer livermaile
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"One of the best parts of This Film is Not Yet Rated came from a documentarian whose war documentary got an NC-17. He pointed out that the MPAA distinguishes between violence where there is blood and gore and violence where there is no visible blood and decides the former is not suitable for children but that the latter is. The director points out that it should be the opposite. Children have a blurred sense of fantasy and reality. Bloodless, non-messy violence is a fantasy, one that only adults should be exposed to."

I saw the other day how it was revolutionary, a daring edgeover, when Leave It To Beaver actually showed the top of a toilet bowl. The water closet portion.

To have actually shown the bowl... SHOCKING!!!

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Colin JM0397
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Honeymoon?

Bring out the gimp.
You sure have a perty mouth.

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Mynnion:
Yes, you are correct but it was not that way when I grew up. Literature did not need extraneous sex or violence to sell books. Watch shows or movies from the 50-80s and although there were exceptions the majority provided clean humor. Sex was insinuated sometimes but not graphically portrayed.

No. It' smore than back then, literature that had extraneous sex or violence tended to either run afoul of government censorship or get dropped very quickly by "decent" bookstores and libraries everywhere. Likewise TV, cinema, and music weren't more decent 50 years ago because they were purer times or anything, they were more decent 50 years ago to avoid legal repercussions and angry, profit-reducing protests. You're mistaking the repression and censorship of days gone by for some sort of golden age of decency.

Plus I think the notion that less sex, less violence, and less graphic depictions are automatically a good thing is fundamentally flawed (seriously, you've done nothing to explain how wholesome entertainment is intrinsically better), and what you're basically doing here is arguing that an artist's freedom to create what he wants and an audience's freedom to see what it wants should be trumped by the opinion of disapproving do-gooders who aren't even watching the splatter horror or the gay porn that they're complaining about in the first place.

If you don't like tits and gore, watch something else and stop whining about how awful it is that some people like things you don't. It's not like Hollywood is so busy filming explicit sex and violence that it doesn't have time to make cleaner, more wholesome fare or anything.

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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
Mynnion, I'm really really really hoping for that poor boys sake that Guine didn't see Pulp Fiction and Deliverance as "getting ready for her honeymoon".


Unless he's into that sort of thing. I'm not here to judge.

Yes, and let's hope that her hubby didn't see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as "getting ready for his honeymoon". [Big Grin]
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Storm Saxon
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quote:
Originally posted by Mynnion:
I have been thinking allot lately about the cultural changes that I have seen in society.

Like our children we don't see the changes that occur day by day the changes in media have been gradual but significant over time. Watch a remake of a movie and look at how a story that contained mild romance and violence now has to have graphic violence and sex.

I am not a prude but when I turn on the TV I see disrespect, rude behavior, casual sex (OK maybe I am a little prudish), and profanity shown as normal and funny. Quality literature and film used to stop at the bedroom door recognizing that the details were not necessary to portray the story. Violence was shown only as needed rather than today’s in-your-face method.

I remember reading about all the churches that condemned Harry Potter as a tool of the devil. I think they would do a much better job looking the junk blasting kids daily rather than fussing about a book that children know is pure fiction.

I am not saying I want to turn back the clock to the 1950s (they had a whole different set of problems) but I do wish that Hollywood would stop telling kids that they need "things" to make them happy, that it is OK to be rude, that they have to be in constant contact with their friends, that divorce is OK if you "Fall out of Love." Marriage is commitment sex should not be casual; life is about more than self.

Not to argue about whether you are right and wrong, but why isn't the answer to not watch television?
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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Rallan:


If you don't like tits and gore, watch something else and stop whining about how awful it is that some people like things you don't. It's not like Hollywood is so busy filming explicit sex and violence that it doesn't have time to make cleaner, more wholesome fare or anything.

I mostly agree with you. I haven't gone to the movie theater since LotR, and before those I think it was American Beauty. We watch the evening news and college sports (UF basketball and football). You would think that we wouldn't be offended by the things that we find in those two shows, and for the most part we aren't, but it is the commercials that ruin it (for the most part, from time to time we get the news anchor that wants to make a name for themselves being gritty and edgey, or the aforementioned audio clip where they didn't blank out the f-bomb, but those are relatively rare, less than once a month). We have a three year old boy, we don't show him movies where people are graphically murdered, we don't show him strippers, we don't show him people drinking or doing drugs, but all of those things are showing up in commercials.

The worst part is that they completely sidestep the question of whether or not those things are OK. They aren't the main focus of the commercial, they are being taken for granted as acceptable viewing material for all ages. I actually find this a little amusing because I constantly do this when I am trying to get peole to do their work. Instead of convincing them to do the work I ask them questions about the logistics of getting it done and by the time we hammer out the details of how to do it they have forgotten that they didn't want to do it. The commercials for Halloween Horror Nights are skipping right past "do I want to have my kids see this" and going straight to "do you want to go on a Friday or Saturday night". By the time I realize what the commercial is and have found the remote and changed the channel, my son is already cowering in fear behind the couch. Then there are the commercials for Desparate Housewives, and the commercials that just use sex to get attention.

When I am old and rich I'll get a Tivo, but that doesn't help me very much now.

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Mynnion
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quote:
Not to argue about whether you are right and wrong, but why isn't the answer to not watch television?
Good point. When my children were young we did tightly control both TV time and viewing choices as most good parents should. There are good control options like TIVO or just turning it off.

My main issue is that I feel that our culture is being modified by a small group of individuals that use the system to in essence advertise to us their value system.

quote:
Plus I think the notion that less sex, less violence, and less graphic depictions are automatically a good thing is fundamentally flawed (seriously, you've done nothing to explain how wholesome entertainment is intrinsically better), and what you're basically doing here is arguing that an artist's freedom to create what he wants and an audience's freedom to see what it wants should be trumped by the opinion of disapproving do-gooders who aren't even watching the splatter horror or the gay porn that they're complaining about in the first place.

When an idea is shown over and over again as normal it subtly alters our thinking. When the vast majority of actors and actresses are portrayed as "beautiful people" how does that impact children? When violence is shown graphically as cool what message is that sending? When music and video games degrade woman or honor cop killers how do we as a society deal with the repercussions?

It is not the artist's ability to create that I am arguing against. If by art you mean music that glorifies murder, rape, drug abuse, etc, than yes, I don't think that has a place in our culture. If you mean by art paintings and exhibits that are specifically designed to offend or degrade any portion of our population than again I don't consider it worthy. Do we need to see graphic scenes of violence when we turn on the news to be informed, no the violence is strictly there for ratings.

The fact that your value system and mine are different does not mean that I am a whining do-gooder (although we should all try to do good, well, whatever), it means that in "my" opinion our society is being manipulated into becoming something that I don't always see as good.

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Storm Saxon
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quote:

My main issue is that I feel that our culture is being modified by a small group of individuals that use the system to in essence advertise to us their value system.

Actually, through ratings, couldn't we say that television is pretty democratic and seeks to reach the highest number of people possible?

You might be suprised, for instance, how different groups view television, and why they dislike it for how it portrays what is 'normal'.

These days, there are any number of alternative media channels available. Don't like something? Watch something else. You can only let the 'group of individuals' have your time if you want them to.

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Mynnion
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quote:
These days, there are any number of alternative media channels available. Don't like something? Watch something else. You can only let the 'group of individuals' have your time if you want them to.
This is a valid point but my question is not so specific as societal. Watch the fashions on the Disney channel and you will soon see millions of kids wearing the same fashions, getting their hair done in the same way, and wanting the same things. I recognize that this existed when I was a kid also. I just have become more aware of ti.
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Storm Saxon
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Well, I don't think anyone would argue that Mass Media sucks. It's the, whatchacallit, Sturgeon's law.
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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Mynnion:
quote:
Not to argue about whether you are right and wrong, but why isn't the answer to not watch television?
Good point. When my children were young we did tightly control both TV time and viewing choices as most good parents should. There are good control options like TIVO or just turning it off.
[/quote]

I never really liked that option myself, But then, maybe I'm just still annoyed that my parents wouldn't let me watch The A-Team when I was little [Smile]

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0Megabyte
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"It is not the artist's ability to create that I am arguing against. If by art you mean music that glorifies murder, rape, drug abuse, etc, than yes, I don't think that has a place in our culture."

Well... our culture happens to disagree with you. And it's not going to bow down to your desires without serious force, sorry.

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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Mynnion:
[QUOTE]
It is not the artist's ability to create that I am arguing against. If by art you mean music that glorifies murder, rape, drug abuse, etc, than yes, I don't think that has a place in our culture.

So you don't want to limit artistic freedom or impose censorship. You just want to stop artists from making things you don't personally approve of. I'm glad we got that cleared up Mynnion [Smile]
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