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The ShootGun

November 29th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  4 Comments

Murder is up in New York, as is drinking until you end up in the hospital. And in my household, toddler gun violence is at an all time high.

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.


Responses

  1. jjdaddyo says:

    November 29th, 2010at 2:07 pm(#)

    Still, you have to wonder about what the effect of some movies are on certain kids: My wife and I were stunned when we saw some parents bring their 6(ish) year old into the Lord of the Rings 3 movie- you know, the one with the HUGE FUCKING SPIDER, not to mention all the rest of the scary stuff that happens in 2 hours plus.
    Also, some folks we know let their tweens watch True Blood, are they freakin crazy? Sexting is going to be the least of those kid’s behavior.
    As Cartman would say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBM-P-1CxXI

  2. Didactic Pirate says:

    November 29th, 2010at 2:54 pm(#)

    I share your view that we tend to get a little too paranoid about the idea that the media is shaping our kids behavior, particularly regarding violence — although as I’m writing this comment, I’m realizing that I shield my 9-year-old from a lot of media. More than I thought, actually.

    Of course right now, her most violent make-believe games mainly involve light sabers, instead of guns.

    Luckily, I keep my own actual light saber locked up. If she ever get her hands on that, she’d be slicing our furniture in half.

  3. Nathan says:

    November 29th, 2010at 3:47 pm(#)

    Yeah, it does seem all armchair science to gauge the harm. One measuring stick I’ve heard to decide whether kids are ready to distinguish real life from imaginary horrors: do they still believe in Santa Claus? If yes, then supposedly they’ll have a hard time grasping that HUGE FUCKING SPIDERS don’t happen in real life.
    That said, my 4-year-old believes in Santa (I think), but she knows that Yoda isn’t real. So it can be difficult to distinguish…

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