Saturday, April 19, 2014
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The good, the bad and the movies

GUEST COLUMN • Mark Magnan

I am not a movie watcher. I guess I don’t have the attention span to watch movies. Perhaps it is my childlike behavior that drives me to be entertained if I am going to have to sit and watch a movie. Most movies don’t really interest me at all. Even nonstop action is not something I look for. I probably could watch a full length Three Stooges movie. But given the choice of watching the Titanic or listening to three hours of Celine Dion music, I would have to think long and hard on the decision of what I will have to endure. I have never been much on horror movies; war movies aren’t my choice either, and being a guy, “chick flicks” are definitely out of the question.

But what I have noticed over the past several years is that movies and TV shows have taken on more action. In reality, they have become much more violent. And following this trend is the video game market. It seems like what was “good enough” last year is now too tame and needs a boost. Now, when I was growing up there were movies that had a degree of violence, along with weekly family-type shows. I mean Lucas McCain killed someone in almost every episode of The Rifleman, and in Little House on the Prairie someone died every week, except the Christmas show. But what sets those aside from the movies today is the plot is so much different now. It seems like the modern theme has to include gratuitous violence and/or other “appealing” subject matter. Just a few decades ago even married TV couples didn’t sleep in the same bed. Now we have teenagers engaging in activities that would make Dick VanDyke and Mary Tyler Moore turn red as a beet.

Now I am no prude, and realize that times are changing. But we have seen a lot of talk about what a violent country we live in. Is it just me or could there be a chance that what we are watching and listening to each day molds the way we behave? Some parents use TV and video games as a babysitter. If those games are the extremely violent war games meant for mature players, then why would we search for another reason these kids grow up with violent tendencies? Of course there are kids that play these games and seem to turn out just fine. But the ones that turn out a bit warped are the ones that cause a lot of damage.

 The same thing goes for car chase movies and shows. Again, even with the action, these are not movies that I would care to see. But we are giving teenagers a two hour lesson on how to drive a vehicle. The problem is that the teens are not quite as skillful as the stunt drivers in the shows. Young people have the urge to go fast already; couple that with the distractions they have: music, cellphones, friends, and you get a fairly hazardous activity. Prod them to try a few “professional” car moves to impress their friends, and you get something even more dangerous. The video games seem to fuel this fire as well. The good thing about a game is that no matter how bad the wreck, you just punch a button your insurance stays the same; you don’t get a ticket, and you get a new car. In real life you might not be so lucky. If you want to drive fast or learn new driving skills, there are places for that, controlled conditions, professional teachers and the like. I would enjoy a few trips around a track in some of the finest automobiles out there, and perhaps someday I will.

 As I watch TV and see commercials for movies and TV shows, I just have to stop and wonder. If a show doesn’t involve violence in some way it is almost out of place. With the violence we also need something else to spice up the plot. Then let’s throw in something dead so we can re-kill it. And when we are done, hop in a fast car and evade even more danger. Perhaps we need to see what diet our young people are on now; perhaps changing what they feed on will in turn change what our society is now known for. At the end of alcohol commercials we see a statement that we should use the product responsibly. During car commercials we see a car driving harmlessly down a scenic road, but are told this is a closed course and we shouldn’t do this. Yet for movies we just excite the audience and turn them loose on society. I am not for getting rid of all the violence and drama, heck I was raised on eye pokes and hair pulling, but each time Larry and Curly seemed to come out just fine and I never tried that at home.