Logo

Theological Editions - Indepth daily religious news, views, reviews & key theological resources
Features

In-depth religious news, views, reviews, features & resources for the thinking person
 

Resources

Bible
Sermons

Liturgy & Prayer

News & Magazines

Journals

Texts & Resources

Home

Programmers let lose Roman circus in Kiwi living rooms
by Graeme J. Davidson,
23 August, 2008

You’d think the only qualifications needed to get a job selecting our TV programmes are high scores in Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto, Killer 7, Crime Life – Gang Wars and similar violent computer games, and a cynical belief that we, the barbaric public, lap up vicarious violence.

....Alfred Hitchcock once said, “One of television’s great contributions is that it brought murder back into the home, where it belongs”. Kiwi television programmers think so, too, judging from the number of corpses they dump on our living room screens in shows like CSI (x 2), Chuck, SVU-Special Victims Unit, Sensing Murder, Women’s Murder Club, Medium, Criminal Intent, The Unit, and something called City Homicide starting next week.
....Armed sociopaths abound, as do graphic autopsies of their victims, especially on TV2 and TV3. And, what kind of ratings would soaps and cartoons get if they didn’t add their fair share of brutality and murder most foul?
....After a lapse of 10 years, I’ve tuned in to Kiwi-owned channels again and I’m appalled at all the blood. You’d think the only qualifications needed to get a job selecting our TV programmes are high scores in Resident Evil, Grand Theft Auto, Killer 7, Crime Life – Gang Wars and similar violent computer games, and a cynical belief that we, the barbaric public, lap up vicarious violence.
....We are second only to the US for television violence. So, it’s hardly surprising that New Zealand sits seventh among countries having the highest number of reported assaults per head of population. The USA is just ahead at sixth.
....According to Interpol data, Western countries experienced a four or fivefold increase in violent crime after the advent of television, and the rate of murders pretty much doubled.
....But is TV wholly to blame? Although there are many reasons for violent crime, a 2004 report to the Minister of Broadcasting based on research from AUT, concludes: “the current level of TV violence in New Zealand may pose a risk for some individuals and vulnerable groups including children and young people, especially those who are also exposed to other major risk factors for violence”. The report adds that watching lots of TV violence makes us “more likely than other viewers to have an exaggerated fear of violence and mistrust of people”.
....Of course, our TV executives rationalise that they merely reflect what society wants and that far worse violence is available on the internet and from video stores. They stress that they stick to censorship rules, warn viewers of violent content, espouse our right to watch what we want and that if we don’t want to watch something, we can change channels or switch off. They rarely admit to the damage they might be doing and they steadfastly resist replacing violent dramas with non-violent ones.
....It’s enough to drive all of us suffering post-traumatic screen violence disorder to extremes – like torturing our television programmers for a TV ethics reality show until they confess how they load peak viewing times with vicarious carnage to grab viewer attention and make big bucks from advertisers. Their deaths in front of their own cameras would be an apt epitaph. To quote American novelist Kurt Vonnegut: “If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us”.
....Naturally, our TV programmers practise a double standard. While justifying bloodbaths on our screens when it’s fiction, they advertise against domestic violence and are squeamish about letting us view the bloody reality of corpses and mutilated survivors in war zones. Perhaps they sanitise news footage because they don’t want us to become so shocked and outraged that we’ll work harder for peace and an end to violence.
....What about churches that have crucifixes and images of the 14 Stations of the Cross depicting the gruesome passion and death of Jesus? For Christians this is not vicarious entertainment. It’s a prayer and teaching aid showing us how God suffered and sacrificed himself to bring us closer to him. We see here the roots and consequences of violence and our need to be peacemakers.
....The brutality we see on TV dramas does the opposite. Our TV programmers use our living room screens as a Coliseum for their Roman Circus, which gratuitously entertains for profit and acclimatises us to violence.


 

 

 

See also
Should we intervene to prevent suicide? >> more
Divorce risk indicator >> more
When you feel like you're sharing a bed with a stranger >> more
Surving the breakup >> more
Suicide terrorism as a desperate weapon of liberation >> more
Ned Flanders — popular face of Christianity >> more
Seven common myths about religion >> more
Moral divide between church leaders and laity >> more
Unholy silence over MPs hypocrisy and greed >> more
Anglican schism over gay clergy inevitable >> more
My agonising path to enlightenment >> more
More than ever, it's a time for generosity >> more
National's ethics smell of political expediency >> more
Pope's trip to Holy Land fraught with potholes >> more
The resurrection may have been superfluous >> more
Rasputin — from sinner and seducer to saint? >> more
Religious delusions and the Jerusalem syndrome >> more
Protest mild compared with Jesus' vandalism >> more
What Castro and Obama have in common >> more
Holidays can revive romance or widen cracks between couples >> more
Dubious scholarship reinterprets Jesus to fit secular creed >> more
Furore over gay marriage echoes the conflict over slavery >> more
If only politics were as certain as dear old granny >> more
You've got to have faith to win the White House >> more
The problem of evil >> more
TV Programmers let lose Roman circus >> more
Prostitutes welcome in the kingdom of God but not in Dannevirke >> more
Church too busy navel-gazing to take lead over crime >> more
Will the Anglican Church split over gay clergy and same-sex unions? >> more
Faith in secular western society >> more
The Vatican's pelvic theology >> more
Abuse and the Beijing Olympics >> more
Would the real Jesus stand up? >> more
Hypersensitivity perverts ethics >> more
God and presidential hopefuls >> more
A three-ghetto church based on politics >> more
Good and bad intentions >> more
Deliver us from exorcists who harm >> more
How effective is prayer? >> more
Masters of non-violence, resistance and kung fu >> more
Was Mother Teresa living a lie? >> more
Double standards over child sex abuse >> more
Soppy inspirational and pseudo-spiritual emails >> more
Caring organisations and pyschopathic bosses >> more
The new anti-religious evangelists >> more
Call for religious education could backfire >> more
Blessing creatures great & small — but what about blowflies? >> more
Does God exist only in the brain? >> more
The Prudes who crucify >> more
tomb raiders and the bones of Jesus and his family? >> more
Jesus loves Osama >> more
Is God more like a matchbox or a number? >> more
Confessions of a failed axe murderer >> more
Bacchanalian festivals and sentimentality >> more
Manners: insignificant social customs? >> more
The 109 fighting boys >> more
Trying to exhume the historical Jesus >> more
Is global violence really on the increase? >> more
Polygamy, circumcision, atheist journalists and religious diversity >> more
The Christian Right stands by Israel out of a misguided theology  >> more 
What a rat taught me >> more
The Church is becoming a retirement hobby for granny clergy >> more 
Is there an anti-Christian conspiracy in Hollywood? >> more
Have church schools sold out on Christianity? >> more
How good a Christian is President George W Bush? >> more

Hitler, Lawyers, Politicians SUV owners and life after death >> more

Were the Christian hostages really idiots for peace? >> more
Infidelity: in hot pursuit of a better organsm or better intimacy? >> more
Skulduggery and controversy over discovery of religious texts >> more
The cartoons aren't about secular freedoms versus intolerance >> more

Christian Zionists hinder justice and peace in the Middle East >> more

Should making more money be your New Year's resolution? >> more
My early life as a black sheep in a nativity scene >> more
Different types of suicide bomber: what makes them tick >> more
Cheating a short cut to sucess in winner-take-all society >> more
Life after death: Is it logically possible? >> more
Is it Anglican to practise apartheid? >> more
Da Vinci Code unlocks controversy>> more
Bishops' statement: pompous, pious, out of touch and verging on the heretical >> more 
Church leaders unconvincing over prostitution law reform >> more
Divorce risk factors >> more
How global are we?  A Christian's view of globalisation >> more
Victims of dirty tricks & friendly fire: Machiavellian tactics in the Church militant >> more
A redundant resurrection >> more
War, violence, ethics, religion and hypocrisy >> more
If St Peter was interviewed for ordination today >> more
13 ways to empty a church without really trying >> more
How tolerant is the Museum of Tolerance? >> more
A church comes out and reconciliation divides >> more
Micah's dream — too much to ask? >> more
Has the revised Anglican Church in New Zealand instigated a benign form of religious apartheid? >> more
The case for St Judas Iscariot >> more
Exorcism: the ministry of deliverance >> more

Top