I was listening to NPR one morning on my drive to work and one of the stories briefly touched upon had to do with professional wrestling – specifically that girls who tended to watch it were more likely to take it seriously and re-enact what they were seeing. Later that same day I was skimming MSNBC looking for the latest cheery news from the Middle East when the headline “Raunchy Song Lyrics Can Prompt Early Teen Sex” leapt out at me instead.
I was reminded of the documentary “Dream Deceivers” that came out in 1992, which told the tale of two Nevada teens who attempted suicide after receiving the subliminal message “do it, do it” from a Judas Priest album. Who knew “it” was really code for “commit suicide” and not “join the Peace Corps”. Armed with that knowledge, I think we should now cast a wary eye towards Nike and their “Just Do It” mass genocide campaign. And doesn’t it make you wonder what exactly your company’s IT department is up to? That’s a dubious capital “IT” in case you didn’t catch on. Are these truly harmless, anti-social misfits? No, I contend they are modern day technical jihadists who will readily sacrifice you on the altar of indirect answers for a barely noticeable bump in speed to their CPU. Try to overclock that chipper!
About the only thing I’ve even been tempted to do after viewing a movie or hearing a song was to leap off the jungle gym holding an umbrella at the ripe old age of 6. Hey, it worked for Mary Poppins! That was the same day I learned one of my first lessons about physics specifically wind drag and its effect on umbrellas. Amazingly, my parents were able to keep a level head and didn’t seek damages against Disney or Julie Andrews. How times have changed.
I believe that the entertainment industry can have an impact and influence a society socially and politically, but I see it having a broader impact and not singling out troubled teenagers with the message to commit suicide.
Of course, I’m also coming from the viewpoint that Nancy Griffiths “Making Pies” has never inspired me to bake nor has Iron Chef made me want to go to Kitchen Stadium, slap down a turtle and challenge Morimoto.
I guess I want and expect people to take the credit or the blame for their acitions. I want society, in particular researchers and the people who report on their findings, to let them do so instead of producing more crutches people can use as an excuses. While some research is compelling, I find it can also be enabling.
Ultimately, instead of falling back on a book, a television program, the media, or a particular song I want people to take responsibility – to own their actions. Certainly, there are influences in a person’s life, but I believe most people (maybe not all people) have a choice.
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