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Monday, August 4, 2014

IS IT TIME FOR CENSORSHIP?

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

- It's not the NRA; it's Hollywood.

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Once again, it is time to go out on a limb. I recently listened to a radio interview with one of the young wackos accused of shooting up a school. Frankly, he sounded rather calm, cool and collected as he described how he planned his assault. In addition to guns, he had pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails prepared for backup. When asked how he learned to make such devices, he replied it was from the movies and television. His candid comments did not surprise me. We have long suspected the media has an adverse effect on our youth, and it does indeed appear that life imitates art, not the other way around. By glamorizing violence, not just guns, Hollywood has changed the social mores of our culture.

As a kid, I played a lot of "Cowboys and Indians" and "Cops and Robbers," and, Yes, toy guns were included in our playtime, even if it was nothing more than our thumb and index finger. I also had my share of cap guns. Somehow though, we understood the difference between toys and the real thing. The thought of mistaking a real gun for a cap gun was simply unimaginable. You knew better. Then again, we also played a lot of "hide and seek," baseball, tag, swimming, etc. In other words, the gun games did not consume our time.

The violence of today though is more pervasive, maybe because the entertainment industry is more pervasive. Instead of just three or four channels on television, now there are hundreds. The Internet allows us to look up just about anything regardless of its legality. And as of this writing, seven of the current top ten movies all have explicit violence. When I look at movie trailers, such as "Transformers: Age of Extinction," the computer generated graphics suggest anything is possible, not to mention a total indifference to human life. When you consider our youth are watching such movies regularly, not to mention playing similar computer games, and watching television programs promoting violence, is it any wonder that children are becoming indifferent to life?

We have always understood the power of the motion picture industry. From 1930 to 1968, the Hays Code was used to keep movie violence and sex in check. According to the Code, the following items were not to appear in the movies:

1. Pointed profanity – by either title or lip – this includes the words "God," "Lord," "Jesus," "Christ" (unless they be used reverently in connection with proper religious ceremonies), "hell," "damn," "Gawd," and every other profane and vulgar expression however it may be spelled;
2. Any licentious or suggestive nudity – in fact or in silhouette; and any lecherous or licentious notice thereof by other characters in the picture;
3. The illegal traffic in drugs;
4. Any inference of sex perversion;
5. White slavery;
6. Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races);
7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases;
8. Scenes of actual childbirth – in fact or in silhouette;
9. Children's sex organs;
10. Ridicule of the clergy;
11. Willful offense to any nation, race or creed;

These, of course, have all been violated and most are now commonplace on television. Also notice they were more concerned with sex than with violence back then. This all changed in late 1968 with the advent of the MPAA film rating system (G - X). Rating systems are fine, but they are useless if nobody enforces them. Next time you are at the theater, see how many young people are checked by the box office for their identity.

Is it time to tighten up censorship standards? If the people who commit random public shootings are any indication, quite possibly. We would all like to believe we are mature enough to watch whatever we want, but this is evidently not so and it is time to exercise some control over who sees what. For example, the Transformer movie has a PG-13 rating. From the violence I saw, it should carry an R rating at the very least. Then again, nobody will be checking identities.

Violent movies appear to create a fantasy land for some viewers who cannot distinguish fiction from reality. A program of stepped up censorship will inevitably affect motion pictures, television, computer games, and the Internet. It will undoubtedly be unpopular, and people will scream their first amendment rights are being violated. However, the harsh reality is we have to learn to live together in the real world, not in fantasy land.

Remember, the objective of censorship is to define what is morally right and wrong. If people were taught this properly, there would be no need for censorship.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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