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Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Football is a mistake. It combines the two worst elements of American life. Violence and committee meetings." - George F. Will


Video on Power Rangers and its alleged effect on violence in children (from 20/20):

"The kids are pounding each other again. But children have always done this sort of thing. But some people say it's worse today...

Why it's so popular isn't clear. From an adult perspective it's an astonishingly stupid show...

Most kids said they liked it *because* of the violence... And there's plenty of that. Roughly a third of each show.

And that's why teachers are upset. 'Kids are harder to control', they say. 'They can't concentrate because they're so obsessed with Power Rangers'. One survey shows classroom violence is up. Teachers complain the show teaches kids to solve problems by fighting...

*Mention of the case in Norway where a 5-year-old Norwegian girl was kicked to death by playmates*...

Most [kids we showed the show to] spent most of the time kicking...

The Canadian government is quicker to intervene... Of course, watching kids in Canadian playgrounds, you don't see all that much difference. Is censorship the solution? Kids are more violent today, but is that because of TV? Or lack of parenting?

No kids have been reported injured. Yes, these kids kicked more after watching Power Rangers but noticed they kicked the air - not each other. Or they kicked the wall. Maybe the kids know the show isn't real.

'No, it's fantasy' - Second grader

'Weren't you guys running around kicking each other at recess?'
'Well, we didn't really kick each other. We just faked it.' - Second grader

Of course, these are seven year olds. Younger kids are more likely to be confused about what's real. So I played a kid for the five-year-olds on my kid's soccer team.

These kids also acted the part. With weapons, yes. But they didn't hurt each other. Isn't this just the kind of playfighting kids have always done? And even five-year-olds could separate the show from reality...

He doesn't really believe his friend can morph. And few of the parents wanted censorship...

And many parents said it isn't the Power Rangers that threatens kids. It's the news.

'Very frightening. That gives them bad dreams' - Parent
'They know it's fake?'
'Yeah. They know it's fake' - Parent

'Are you really fighting?'
'It can't be real' - Kid
'Why not?'
'Cos it's magical' - Kid
'How do you know?'
'Cos then it'll be happening now. Yeah, and it'll be on the news, not on TV' - Kid
A later investigation in Norway showed that the death of the five-year-old was not realted to Power Rangers. The show is back on the air. If TV *is* the problem, why 'Power Rangers' and not, say, 'Ninja Turtles'? I'm not thrilled that my son watches this garbage, but my parents weren't thrilled by what *I* watched. *Road Runner clip* I was watching Road Runner cartoons and Sylvester and Tweety and Sylvester was getting the stuffing beat out of him, just as much as in Power Rangers.

'Children imitate real aggression more than they imitate animated aggression. I remember anvils being dropped on heads. Kids don't have access to anvils.' - Some Professor (?)

I guess we should be grateful for that.

But if it's realistic violence we're supposed to worry about, then what about professional wrestling? What about the even nastier stuff that goes on at video arcades? On TV the Power Rangers never draw blood.

But at the arcade kids mutilate each other. *Mortal Kombat reference*

Of course kids have always had an appetite for violence. Think about fairy tales. Hansel and Gretel cooked the witch. The wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood. Snow White is poisoned. Psychologists say such stories can help kids deal with their anger and feelings of powerlessness. What child doesn't feel better daydreaming about morphing into a superhero?

'I like how they teleport' - Kid
'Do you wish you could be them?'
'Yeah' - Kid
'Would give you more power?'
'Yeah' - Kid
'What would you do if you could do that?'
'I'll just be happy'

'Kids are tiny and this helps them feel powerful, that they can *morph* into something that will master their fear. Isn't some of this good for kids?'
'This doesn't mean that we have to accept a program where the characters morph onto to become excessively violent' - Some Professor (?)

Excessively violent? Maybe that's the point. *Lone Ranger clip* The Lone Ranger shot people in the hand. Now we have the X-Men, the Power Rangers. But does watching this make kids violent?

So much research has been done... kids who watch a lot of violent TV commit more violent acts and are more likely to commit crimes. But what does that prove? It's this sort of social science mush. It may be that kids who are disposed to be violent like watching violent TV. You don't know what came first.

'Do you have suggestions for parents? One of those kids was yours'
... Most psychologists suggest: watch with the kids. And then you can explain what's real, what's not. You can say: you know if you kick someone, it's gonna hurt them?

Funny how 30+ years of Super Sentai, Kamen Rider and Tokusatsu hasn't turned Jap kids into monsters.
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