Of course, it’s simulated violence. Like the Dagestani warlord whose son’s wedding ended up on Wikileaks, I only let my child play with a gold-plated pistol: the blinged-up housing keeps it from actually firing.
But if the shooting is fake, the intent seems to be quite real. “Bum, bum, bum,” my 2-year-old son says from dawn till dusk, pointing sticks and spoons and Legos at us all. “I shoot you with my ShootGun.”
I’m not one to worry too much about violence on TV and what it may be doing to my child. Violence in the media is not new to this generation (Bambi had so much mayhem and death that it was rated one of the top horror movies of all time by Time Magazine). And then there’s that story I like to retell (apocryphal, perhaps), about some pacifist friends of my grandfather and his wife. They forbade their sons to play with toy guns or anything militaristic, only to find that the boys were tearing slices of bread into gun shapes and slaughtering each other with their breadguns in fake mercenary exploits.
An Austrian-born psychiatrist named Peter Neubauer was an early Cassandra about violence on TV (he also wrote an Oedipal study of one-parent children that I’m sure is just plain weird), but even Neubauer found that children were more likely to be disturbed or affected by what they saw if their home life was in turmoil. So I do hope that Nico will be relatively unscathed as long as the hacking, chopping, sawing, blasting, smashing, grinding and knifing stays on the screen, and not in the home. He’ll just be mimicking instead of having actual homicidal ideations.
That’s the plan, at least.