Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 18-Mar-07
Activists accuse Fox's '24' of promoting torture.

Web Log - March, 2007

Activists accuse Fox's '24' of promoting torture.

In the end, it's just another way to bash our troops.

It's a familiar argument to me: TV is taking over our children's minds and causing them to become violent. I've heard such things many times, usually coming from an unholy alliance of the left and the right.

On the right this time, we have conservative media critic L. Brent Bozell III, saying that "24" showed 67 scenes of torture in its first five seasons. He made a particularly tortuous argument to claim that torture scenes are harming children: He said that they're OK in movie theatres, where kids won't accidentally see them, but not on TV.

On the left, Jane Mayer from the New Yorker and Clyde Haberman from the New York Times used the "24" controvery to bash the armed forces.

"I finally did start watching '24,'" says Mayer, "and there, every week, it was the best advertisement you could ever run for torture." According to Mayer, the "military elite" (whatever that means) are getting concerned about the depiction of torture in "24."

Mayer reported on the growing dissent among military elite about the depiction of torture in "24," and that its portrayal of Jack Bauer is "influencing soldiers to use torture methods."

"He cuts through the red tape," said Mayer. "And the red tape in this case happens to be the U.S. Constitution." (Incidentally, you can see a number of "24" torture clips, narrated by Mayer, on the New Yorker web site.)

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by what's happening. Senator John Kerry has repeatedly affirmed his belief that American soldiers are torturers, rapists and murderers, and journalist Seymour Hersh (like Jane Mayer, from the New Yorker) thinks that they're Nazis. Kerry also thinks that they're stupid because they got "stuck in Iraq," so it's not surprising the Jane Mayer thinks that they're too stupid to distinguish television fantasy from real life. (I wonder if Mayer has taken to torturing people, now that she's watching "24"? Have any of her children or pets been murdered or hospitalized recently? It's worth checking out.)

I've been hearing nonsense like this my whole life. When I was growing up in the 1950s, my favorite comic book was Superman. One day I saw a newspaper headline about how comics were causing children to become violent. I knew what comics they must have been talking about -- those comic books with ugly monsters on the covers. I never read those, so I knew I was safe until I read the article and learned the Superman comics were among those driving children to violence. It was thus at an early age that I learned what morons some politicians can be.

Anyway, this gave rise to the whole "Dell comics are GOOD comics" advertising campaign. Dell comics featured the likes of Donald Duck and Woody Woodpecker. They were OK, but they were no Superman. By the way, didn't some of these cartoon characters occasionally fall off of cliffs or get hit by anvils? Shouldn't we be afraid that this teaches kids that it's ok to push people off cliffs or hit people with anvils? We have to be vigilant, don't we?

In the 1970s, it was the TV crime drama Kojak that was turning our kids to violence. Then, in the 1980s, an unholy violence between the Christian right and the feminist left started a man-bashing campaign to claim that "sexually exploitive material" was driving men to "objectify" women, turning them into enraged robots that abuse children and rape women.

The main "evidence" of this was Christian right anti-porn crusader Dr. James Dobson's interview with Ted Bundy. Bundy had tortured, raped, sodomized and murdered 30 girls and women. The interview, was conducted in 1989, just hours before Bundy was executed in an electric chair for his crimes. Bundy blamed his crimes on having read sexual materials. In other words, Bundy wasn't responsible for his crimes, since the porn made him do it. It's like a rapist blaming the crime on the victim's tight sweater.

Here a comment from a a 1985 article explaining why media violence is causing people to be violent:

Sen. Paul Simon, (D) Illinois: "The evidence appears overwhelming that witnessing violence on television contributes to violent behavior in real life. There may be isolated instances of individuals who repeat a violent image. But the major problem is the child who sees it day after day and becomes confused about the consequences of violence in a TV world in which the good guys are rarely hurt or killed and the 'bad guys' aren't always identified."

Senator Simon is talking through his hat. There is absolutely no such evidence whatsoever. Several years ago, I actually researched the evidence about this subject, and there's no evidence whatsoever that violence or sexuality in media causes rape or any other crime. It turns out that there IS evidence that the worst pathological "anger retaliatory rapists" are likely to have been badly abused by their mothers, but that fact somehow never makes it into the mainstream newspapers.

Another fact that you never hear about in the newspapers has to do with the explosion of porn, child porn, and violent porn on the Internet in the 1990s. Violent and child porn is illegal, and there was very little of it around in the 1980s. But with online services first, and then the World Wide Web internet, all these materials became widely available. During the dot-com bubble, when everyone was spending huge amounts of money on companies with no income, it used to be said jokingly -- but truthfully -- that the only companies making a profit on the Internet were porn companies.

In the 1990s, the Christian right and the feminist left were in a full-scale man-bashing jihad mode. They predicted that the flood of violent and child porn would turn men into robots who would mindlessly rape and abuse women and children.

Well, the opposite happened. Rapes fell dramatically, as did all violent crimes in the 1990s. And, in a 2001 study by the Dept. of Justice, child sexual abuse dropped enormously in the 1990s. Between 1992 and 1998, substantiated cases of child sexual abuse fell 31% -- almost a third. All forms of child abuse decreased, but child sexual abuse fell much farther than the rest. This is an incredible result, especially given the hysterical claims of the Christian right and the feminist left about violent and child porn. And yet, surprise! surprise! I've never heard or seen this enormous decline discussed in the mainstream media.

Was this dramatic decline in gender-based crime caused by the sudden explosive availability of child porn and violent porn on the Internet? That's probably part of it, and it indicates that if officials really wanted to protect women and children (which they don't) then they would decriminalize these things. It seems perfectly reasonable that psychotic men who rape and abuse women and children can be satisfied by porn in some cases, thus reducing crime against women and children.

But the main reason for the reduction in crime in the 1990s is the generational reason.

Crime declined in the 1990s because most crime is perpetrated by people aged 15-25, and people in Generation-X moved past this age range.

Children who grow up during generational Awakening eras, like America's 1960s-70s, become victims of the social convulsion that occurs in that time. In their book The Fourth Turning, historians William Strauss and Neil Howe call this the "Nomad archetype," because the social turmoil surrounding them causes them to become angry, disaffected and alienated from society. Strauss and Howe found that crime and violence were reduced in the two decades preceding the civil war, and in the two decades preceding World War II, when those Nomad archetype generations became older.

So crime and violence are much more related to generational changes than to anything else.

But that doesn't stop the hucksters who use scare tactics to raise funds for their organizations by blaming the media, or comic books or television.

In The Music Man, the root of all evil was the pool table. Here are a few lines from the song, "You Got Trouble" about the new pool hall in town in 1890s Iowa:

    Now, I know all you folks are the right kinda parents.
    I'm gonna be perfectly frank.
    Would you like to know what kinda conversation goes
    On while they're loafing around that Hall?
    They'll be trying out Bevo, trying out cubebs,
    Trying out Tailor Mades like Cigarette Fiends!
    And bragging all about
    How they're gonna cover up a tell-tale breath with Sen-Sen.

One fine night, they leave the pool hall, Heading for the dance at the Armory! Libertine men and Scarlet women! And Rag-time, shameless music That'll grab your son and your daughter With the arms of a jungle animal instinct! Mass-staria! Friends, the idle brain is the devil's playground!

Trouble, oh we got trouble, right here in River City! With a capital "T" and that rhymes with "P" And that stands for Pool, that stands for pool. We've surely got trouble! Right here in River City, Right here! Gotta figger out a way to keep the young ones moral after school!

In the play, "Professor" Harold Brown uses this tactic to sell the town 76 trombones and dozens of other musical instruments for the boys band.

Today, we have hucksters on the right and the left frightening people in the same way. They never have a shred of evidence to back up their claims, but they frighten people into paying them or their organizations. Charles Dobson's career really took off after the Bundy interview. Andrew Dworkin and other pathologically ill feminists made millions by writing books claiming that all men are rapists and batterers, or that all sex is rape.

I have to say a word about video games. About ten years ago, I saw a television news panel talking about how video games were supposedly driving kids to violence. One guy was really fired up. He was talking about how kids are unable to distinguish "reality" from the video game, and they think that if it's OK to kill things in a video game then it must be OK to kill in real life. He worked up to a crescendo and shouted his main point: "When kids are killing Martians in a video game, those are REAL Martians." The faces of the other tv panelists remained appropriately grim, but I couldn't stop laughing hysterically.

So now it's "24." We have fund raisers and pseudo-journalists worried because "other people" are too stupid to recognize the difference between a tv script and real life. These fund raisers and pseudo-journalists don't have trouble with this, of course; it's the hoi polloi who are too dumb to know. And sure enough, this nonsense will sell magazines and bring in lots of donations.

There's one final point. Mayer and others have claimed that torture has become more acceptable to Americans since 9/11, and they say that "24" is the cause.

Well, they're half right. Torture HAS become more acceptable to Americans, but not because of "24." America is heading deep into a "generational Crisis" era, 62 years after the end of World War II. As I've said many times on this web site, when a country enters a generational crisis era, the value of a human life goes down. By the climax of the crisis war, the only important value is personal and national survival, the value of an individual human life is essentially zero, and genocide becomes acceptable.

The fact that torture is becoming more acceptable to Americans (as it also is to other nations in crisis eras) is just another sign of what a generational crisis era is like.

Furthermore, the new season of "24" begins with major terrorist attacks in Los Angeles and elsewhere on American soil. Anything like that happening in America now would immediately panic the entire country. The political squabbles we see today would disappear. Instead, Americans would be so furious that war, torture and genocide would all become instantly acceptable.

In that sense, "24" is very realistic. (18-Mar-07) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

Web Log Pages

Current Web Log

Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004

Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004

Copyright © 2002-2016 by John J. Xenakis.