November 26, 2008

MIM President asks: “Wouldn’t it be nice if the news media got as worked up about depictions of deadly violence against humans as a form of entertainment, as they are about turkeys being slaughtered at a Sarah Palin Press Conference?”


NEW YORK (Nov. 26, 2008) – Last week former Republican Party vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin conducted a press conference at a turkey farm in Alaska, causing a minor media uproar over the fact that turkeys were being slaughtered in the background.  Robert Peters, President of Morality in Media, had the following comments:

This one hits home for me because I still remember accompanying my father to a turkey farm in the 1950s, watching him pick out a turkey, and watching the farmer cut the turkey’s head off.  This was no “NC-17” or even an “R-rated” affair.

My father also raised two ducks in a pen in the basement for food.  Around the time they began getting used to my brother and I, dad removed their heads in the back yard.  I cried then but have never since thought he did anything wrong taking their heads off or allowing us to watch.

I do think there is something wrong with depicting humans on TV and in film being brutally beaten, murdered and tortured as entertainment for the masses of all ages.

Earlier this week on the critically acclaimed broadcast TV program “24,“ a child is shown preparing to decapitate a prisoner or sever his head in two with a large blade.    Thankfully, viewers did not see the blade severing the neck or splitting the head (as they might have on cable or in a theatrical release) but did see the crowd of watchers cheering the just finished deed.   Later in the program, Jack Bauer is brutally beaten and tortured with a hot blade.

There isn’t a week goes by when a TV program doesn’t provide prime time viewers with the graphic details of an autopsy and often with graphic details of the murder leading up to it.

Last month, Lionsgate released the R-rated film “Saw V,” its latest contribution to what has been called “torture porn” (and for good reason).   In August, a study by Dartmouth College researchers showed that 48% of children ages 10-14 had seen the R-rated film, “Scary Movie,” which included scenes in which the killer slashes a victim’s throat and severs a victim’s head.

Last week, Broadcasting & Cable also reported on a Rutgers University study asserting that media depictions of violence are a “critical risk factor” for aggression in adolescents.  Most of the media ignored this study, being preoccupied instead with the slaughter of turkeys on TV.

Author: MIM   11/26/2008

Further Reading