I came across this really interesting article on the TIME website today, and I really liked it because of how thought-provoking it was. “A Supreme Double Standard” essentially talks about how, earlier this week, a ban on violent video games was overruled by the Supreme Court; this, of course, was because such a ban would be hindering free speech. I usually have pretty strong opinions in matters such as these, but this article really got me thinking.
Now, I think that in an ideal world, violent video games would not exist. But realistically, I understand that they exist and probably will continue to do so. If someone wants to sit on their couch and pretend to gun down a computerized person on their TV, then fine. I personally have better things to do with my time, but that is not the point… The point is, these video games are considered to be free speech. However, this article brings up some good arguing points.
To start, what happens when these video games become more realistic (which they inevitably will be)? As described in the article, future video games will probably include more sensory components; a gamer in the future will probably have the ability to “kill” someone and virtually “feel” the blood splatter. Disgusting, but possible. We have already gotten to the point where some video games include torture, murder, rape, and so forth… In fact,
“In the game Postal II, players (you guessed it) “go postal” by, among other things, attacking schoolgirls with shovels and decapitating them.”
“It is no great surprise that the court refused to accept a state ban on violent video games — even one limited to minors. Last year, in the case of United States v. Stevens, the court had a chance to rule that videos showing extreme cruelty to animals — including ones showing puppies being crushed to death by women in stiletto heels — are not protected by the First Amendment. Instead, the court struck down a federal law banning animal-cruelty videos.”
On to the second arguing point — the one which I really did not spend much time thinking about until today. Why are we so accepting of violence in our society, but so opposed to anything too overtly sexual?
You could argue that our society is over-sexualized, which I agree with. Our children are being pressured to grow up faster than ever and are encouraged to become “sexy” at young ages (Abercrombie selling push-up bikini tops to elementary schoolers?!)… just read “The Lolita Effect” if you don’t believe me (It’s actually a really good book, so you should also read it even if you do believe me). But this article is pointing out something entirely different.
For example, why are movies so quick to get the NC-17 rating when they have explicit sex scenes, but not when there are scenes of torture, gore, and violence? Why was there such an uproar over the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl a few years back, but there is such an abundance of graphic violence on virtually every TV station? According to a Parents Television Council article, between the years of 1998 and 2006, violence increased in every time slot on TV. Specifically:
- Violence during the 8:00 p.m. Family Hour has increased by 45%
- Violence during the 9:00 p.m. hour has increased by 92%
- Violence during the 10:00 p.m. hour has increased by 167%
And yes, there has undoubtably been an increase is sexuality on television. But in general, violence seems to be much more widely accepted in the media than sexuality is. The TIME article states:
“Justice Stephen Breyer, one of the two dissenters in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, pointed out the court’s double standard. “What sense does it make,” he asked, “to forbid selling to a 13-year-old boy a magazine with an image of a nude woman, while protecting a sale to that 13-year-old of an interactive video game in which he actively, but virtually, binds and gags the woman, then tortures and kills her?”"
“What sense, indeed. Breyer went further: “What kind of First Amendment would permit the government to protect children by restricting sales of that extremely violent video game only when the woman — bound, gagged, tortured, and killed — is also topless?”"
Great point, Mr. Breyer. I am 100% following you.
I know that you could spend a lifetime debating if violence and/or sex should be banned in certain media, but it is truly hard for someone to argue that there is not a double standard when it comes to the legality of the two topics. Do we, as a society, need to become more tolerant of sexuality? Or should we tone down the violence that is so rampant among us? The two topics are not treated equally, so it’s interesting to think about what a double standard it is.