Our Killer Culture

Posted: 12/12/2009 in Films, Media Literacy, Music, Parenting, Television

It was a rude awakening for the quiet little town of Carl Junction, Missouri—a community with just over 5,000 residents. In the nearby woods, three teenagers murdered a friend—partly out of curiosity—with baseball bats.

Each of the boys had a particular interest in black metal music—music with lyrics that tell of torture and destruction. According to newspaper accounts, Jim Hardy, Ron Clements and Pete Roland matter-of-factly stated that they wondered what it would feel like to kill someone.

The victim, Steven Newberry, while being fatally clubbed to death, repeatedly asked his schoolmates, “Why me, you guys?” His friends replied, “Because it’s fun, Steve.”

You might want to read that again.

About the same time, a twelve-year-old boy was convicted of raping his five-year-old stepsister. “He said he got the idea while watching TV at his aunt’s house,” explains Police Lt. Thomas Hull of San Leandro, California.

Flipping through the channels, this adolescent stumbled on a program that showed an intimate lovemaking scene. “We don’t know what the program was, whether it was an adult channel or a so-called soap opera,” reported Lt. Hull.

After the rape, when asked why he did it, the youngster told police “It looked like fun.”

Did you notice the common thread weaving these unrelated events together? Children in a quest for fun . . . they just wanted a good time. Nothing more. No big deal.

In the cases of Rod Matthews and Mark Branch the motive was different, but they yielded the same results. Matthews, a fifteen-year-old from Dedham, Massachusetts, repeatedly beat to death classmate Shaun Ouillette with a baseball bat. He drew inspiration from a video tape called Faces of Death which, according to its producers, depicts “actual death” experiences. (I’ve seen copies for rent at mainstream video stores.)

For Matthews, watching wasn’t enough. He later explained to psychiatrists that he wanted to “see what it was like to kill someone.”

The motivation behind Mark Branch’s story is similar. The town of Greenfield, Massachusetts, locked their doors tighter than before after news that this nineteen-year-old repeatedly stabbed eighteen-year-old Sharon Gregory. According to Police Chief, David McCarthy, who investigated the case, a search of Branch’s bedroom turned up a stack of Friday the 13th videotapes. His friends say that he was particularly fascinated with Jason, the slasher star of the Friday series.

Chief McCarthy put it this way: “[Mark] wanted to see what it feels like to kill.”

The lefty news media gatekeepers were, for a nanosecond of clarity, in a state of shock, outrage and disbelief over the moral decline of America’s youth: “Didn’t they know better?” “How did they become so jaded?” “Where did society go wrong?”

Let’s see. Maybe “garbage in” still equals “garbage out”? Of course, that hasn’t stopped the Saw franchise from carving out their bazillion dollar slice of the teen slasher market. Nor has it driven a stake through the heart of the vampire fixation in books and films.

Those who make a living peddling death in pop entertainment are, sadly, making a killing primarily because this generation has been jaded from childhood.

Consider the adage, “You are what you eat.” If you consume a 50 pound bag of Oreo’s Double Stuff cookies with garlic dip, you can expect to look and smell like Michael Moore. That’s a fact. Why, then, is it so difficult to embrace the idea that children may actually become monsters who kill when the crass culture they consume celebrates taking an ax to someone’s head for thrills?

Furthermore, even if a young person doesn’t “act out” by murdering another human—or by physically abusing a girlfriend by knocking her around with his fists, it strikes me that a generation raised on death will be less sympathetic to pro-life issues. Think about it. Why should this generation have a heart of compassion for the dying AIDS patient, or the elderly in a hospice, or those with disabilities? After all, they’ve been conditioned to laugh at suffering on the big screen.

Susan Sarandon—whose political views are somewhere left of Lenin—actually said something I agree with: “Films and TV shows have so much influence. They . . . can define the expectation of what it means to be a man or a woman, of what’s fun and what’s not, of what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

You see, children are not born as moral mutants unable to help who they are. I believe God has placed His imprint upon their little consciences and, as such, they can know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, wisdom and folly.

Since a child’s heart and their life choices are frequently shaped by what plays in the theater of his or her mind, a responsible parent must work to help them fix their thoughts on entertainment that elevates the human spirit.

Even the ancient Greeks wrestled with these issues concerning their youth. In Plato’s Republic, Plato wisely asked, “Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up? We cannot!”

In a word, that’s why I created this blog. I invite you to examine with me the “casual tales” Hollywood’s Pied Pipers are peddling. You might not always agree with my assessment about the latest film, TV show, advertisement, or musical recording—which, frankly, can mean only one of two things:

1) You’re Michael Moore
2) You’ve lost your moral compass and you don’t even know it.

There’s no time to mince words: America must hate her children. She allows them to be exploited by profiteers and Hollywood hucksters, often times to the point of death. Unless you and I teach our kids to be discerning and to reach for entertainment which elevates the human spirit, we will lose the next generation.

Comments
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