Thursday, March 17, 2005

Viddying a Bit of the Ultraviolence

There is a classic Simpson's episode where Marge, horrified by Maggie's wonking Homer on the head with a mallet, starts a crusade against cartoon violence. Her target is the ultra-violent "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoons. At one point, in defending his product, the producer of "Itchy and Scratchy" argues that cartoons can't cause people to be violent because violence was around long before cartoons as proven by the Crusades ("Tremendous violence! Many people killed! The darned thing went on for 30 years" - yes, I'm quoting from the DVD subtitles!).

Maybe he wasn't far off. has an interesting review of a new book, Savage Pastimes, that examines the history of violence in "media" (for lack of a better term) and the effect on the public at large. Actually, the theory seems to be that it doesn't have much of an effect at all. People have watched staged violence (in either fictional or real settings) for centuries and we've done OK for ourselves.

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