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Sunday, January 22, 2006

A bad influence?

I'm through the S's in my months-long task of listening to all my CDs. One of the S CDs is a greatest hits compilation by Rod Stewart. One of my favorite songs is Young Turks. Read the lyrics:

Billy left his home with a dollar in his pocket and a head full of dreams
He said somehow, some way, it’s gotta get better than this
Patti packed her bags, left a note for her momma, she was just seventeen
There were tears in her eyes when she kissed her little sister goodbye

They held each other tight as they drove on through the night they were so excited
We got just one shot of life, let’s take it while we’re still not afraid
Because life is so brief and time is a thief when you’re undecided
And like a fistful of sand, it can slip right through your hands

Young hearts be free tonight
Time is on your side
Don’t let them put you down, don’t let ’em push you around
Don’t let ’em ever change your point of view

Paradise was closed so they headed for the coast in a blissful manner
They took a two-room apartment that was jumping ev’ry night of the week
Happiness was found in each other’s arms as expected, yeah
Billy pierced his ears, drove a pickup like a lunatic

Billy wrote a letter back home to Patti’s parents tryin’ to explain
He said we’re both real sorry that it had to turn out this way
But there ain’t no point in talking when there’s nobody list’ning so we just ran away
Patti gave birth to a ten pound baby boy

Now think how many times you hear a politician complain how violent music (or television, or movies, or video games) endanger our kids, leading them to become violent, and urging bans or restrictions on suspicious content.

Yet, if you're going to credit a song about killing cops with encouraging kids to kill cops, then shouldn't you also claim that Rod Stewart's optimistic portrayal of high school lovers running off and eloping will encourage this often destructive behavior?

Why, exactly, would music only lead kids to do certain bad things? Shouldn't Young Turks be banned, just like Cop Killer, Jackass, and Grand Theft Auto?

It's a bipartisan obsession (with Tipper Gore probably most famous for attacking musicians), and politicians of all parties should stop this pathetic pandering. In my view, there are two clear facts:

1. Media clearly influences its viewers. If if didn't, people wouldn't pay to advertise on TV or radio.
2. However, the choice to do something stupid or break the law rests solely with the person doing it.

Claiming "TV made me do it" might dupe gullible parents from focusing on your crime, but it absolutely does not absolve you of your personal responsibility. Millions of people watch the same scenes of violence, but no more consider killing someone than they consider using a magical curse after watching Sabrina, the Teenaged Witch. For almost everyone, both are equally acts of fantasy.


At 12:56 AM, Blogger gecko said...

I see your point, but from an old guy's point of view, you must factor in the person's "growing catalyst" so to speak, meaning how they were raised. I think that there was better parenting during the time of the Rod Stewart song than there was during the time of Grand Theft Auto. If the politicians simply left things up to the parents of today, they certainly would disapoint a large number of constiuants whether these constituants are actually right or wrong.


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