Today on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, news pundit Campbell Brown was on to discuss her disappointment with President Obama’s handling of gun violence. Her issue wasn’t about his handling of the NRA (National Rifle Association) but the fact he didn’t address “the nation’s biggest promoters of violence: the entertainment industry.” She was on the show discussing her recent article on The Wall Street Journal called, “The Preisdent Gives Hollywood a Pass on Violence.” Campbell Brown feels there should be an attack on all fronts and that Obama criticizing the gun industry is the easy way out. She feels the right approach would be to go after everyone and this includes the media, video games, movies and TV, however the news is never mentioned.
In the article she quotes Dr. Victor Strasberger, the leading researcher on media violence for the American Academy of Pediatrics, “All our studies show portraying violence is extremely dangerous. Kids become desensitized, numb to suffering around them and aggressive.” I found this quote to be the most telling, because I feel that’s exactly what happens with the news.
Campbell is concerned that people are playing so many video games that when real violence occurs, no one will care, yet every day on the news we’ll hear “a man was shot in his home” or “three soldiers died in Iraq” and no one cares. It’s tough to say, but literally no one does. How often will a news anchor report the details of a gruesome stabbing and then go right into the local sports results. This is okay to Campbell Brown.
Before Campbell Brown came on set, a clip was shown of Obama reassuring “responsible” gun owners he wasn’t coming after their guns. He even went so far as to say, if he was living on a farm in middle America with his wife, Michelle, he would also own a gun. I don’t feel you can promote owning a gun any harder than having the leader of the free world saying he himself would own one. A few months ago, Joe Biden was on a Google+ hangout when he made the case for a ban on assault rifles by talking about how much better the shotgun is at killing someone. These weren’t the issues in Ms. Brown’s article or on her time on Morning Joe.
“Mr. Obama could show some real bravery by taking on Hollywood.” These are the words that introduced Campbell Brown, where the anchors then praised her “great” article. MSNBC is often referred to as the “Mainstream Media,” but I thought a discussion about how violent the media is lacked a huge part of it, known as “the news.”
After the Dark Knight Rising shooting in Colorado and the Sandy Hook shooting, the 24 hour news networks went into what some call “tragedy porn.” The thing about tragedy porn is it goes so far beyond just being news coverage these critics against Hollywood violence lose their credibility as reliable voices to express opposition.
From the first moments of the shootings, when details were scarse, this did not stop “reporters” from speaking for hours, with some facts but mostly speculation. After Sandy Hook, reporters were interviewing other children to get their response to the killings, asking questions like “What ran through your mind when you heard the gunshots” and “Were you scared?” These questions have nothing to do with reporting but more to just linger on a story and get ratings. The higher the body count the more reporting they do on it. They do little to inform but more to either invoke a response or just to keep people tuned in.
Weeks of 24 hour coverage with everything from 911 calls to picture montages showing families of the victims crying is the quickest way to desensitize viewers and make people “numb” to suffering. I, like many others, put on the news when I got home from work after the Sandy Hook shooting, and watched for about an hour to find out “what happened.” After about an hour and no “real information” I decided to change the channel and go on about my day. After a few days of the constant stories covering every possible point of view involving the incident, interviews with students, neighbors, cops, experts, psychiatrists, soldiers, and even ordinary citizens from all over the country giving their opinions and reactions, I had become desensitized to an extent to the horrible crime.
I’ve killed millions of enemies in video games, but nothing desensitized me to violence more than seeing high paid REAL human beings sitting around a table politicizing a tragedy with dead children hours after it happened.
I live in New York City, and I’ve lost count at how many times I’ve seen the World Trade Center fall. It’s been a part of montages, commercials, but mainly used as a political topic on the news, and there’s a point where it stopped being about MY city and more of B-Roll footage to be used freely on these news networks. I watched live as the Iraq war kicked off and I watched U.S. forces bomb the hell out of Iraq while a lower third read “Shock & Awe” and Anderson Cooper gave us a play by play.
Joe Scarborough calls Quentin Tarantino a pornographer of Hollywood, and speaks about how horrible he is for using violence to make studios hundreds of millions of dollars. He says this after being a part of 24 hour news cycle, sponsored by Starbucks, on his television show, in front of waving American flags. The irony.