Cops and Poppers
I was watching an episode of Cops the other night at a friend's house with two pre - teens. Well, to be honest, we were playing a half - hearted game of Magic while the TV mumbled to itself in the background. The kids, ten and eleven years old, were humming along with me, unconsciously, through an advertisement for American Idol.
"I'm bored," Jake said. "Let's play Mortal Kombat."
"Nah," says Josh. "Let's watch Cops."
In this episode, like most every week, police respond to a variety of calls, reports of domestic violence, stolen vehicles, drug - trafficking. The show itself is probably pretty representative of the fear, danger, variable circumstances and abuse that cops must have to deal with. Sometimes they even show the police involved in their own minor screw - ups. Nothing of any major concern of course“no police brutality“this is a public - relations campaign, right?
Wrong. This is entertainment. It's a TV show.
Mortal Kombat tonight or Cops?
There is something frightening here... something to do with the phenomenon of a lynching. Or when a group of people begins to think of themselves as us, while pointing their fingers toward an unknown, indistinct and faceless group of other people called them.
The television screen, either on Cops or on the six o'clock news, shows a handcuffed individual being stuffed into a police car while trying to avert his face. A voice - over of one of our favorite news anchors informatively explains that police have seized X amount of dollars worth of drugs from them.
We never see their faces. We don't get a biography of who this person is and how they came to be in this situation. What we do get is a well - packaged, polished presentation of the minimum of facts that let us feel that justice is being served“that the criminals, whoever they are, will be caught and punished. And as the TV is switched off, so the history of that human being, where they came from, how they got there, what will happen next, is forgotten. What we are left with is a sense of false security“the police are doing their job“and with it, an aftertaste of fear and loathing.
My brothers don't see the difference between a video game and Cops. To tell you the truth, neither do I. America prides itself on its humane treatment of criminals, yet concerned media figures cry out, why are our youth so violent?
Didn't the Romans used to watch executions for entertainment? Didn't people used to bring picnic baskets to public hangings? Doesn't your daily TV News prescription include blowing things out of proportion, generalizing and hype in healthy doses?
There is something profoundly sad about the way that today's youth are taking to violence as entertainment. They are raised from an early age on a nonstop diet of television, movies, and video games, all of which do nothing other than glorify death and killing.
Personally, it offends me and it saddens me. These children have no childhood. All they have is fantasies of murder. How very regrettable for them and for the future of our society.
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