Swickard: The very best fatalities

© 2014 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. He was six years old with an innocent angelic face. As I was talking to his mother I noticed him looking at a sales catalog so I asked, “Did you see something you want for your birthday?”
      “Yes,” he pointed, “I want this video game.”
From the lurid description in the sales catalog, the game seemed to be extremely violent so I asked, “Why this game?” He smiled broadly, “It’s got the very best fatalities.”
      “Excuse me?” I said. Hmm, I must have heard wrong. “This game has the very best fatalities,” he repeated. His mother wasn’t paying attention as I asked, “What does the word ‘fatalities’ mean?” He looked up and said, “That’s when people die.”
      I was still puzzled, “What does ‘the very best fatalities’ mean?” He broke into a grin. “That’s when the blood spurts out and their bones show and the skin burns off while they die.”
      He went back to the catalog. I motioned to his mother who gave me the look, “Boys will be boys.” I asked her if she thought it was good that a six-year-old wants a game featuring death. She told me most young kids feel exactly the same which is why there are so many violent games on the market.
      Certainly when I was a kid we played cops and robbers with simulated gun violence and there was a certain satisfaction with the death scene when we were gotten. In my circles you did not just plop over, there were a few moments of acting.
      Still, there has been much concern about violence in our society. Some people postulate that the escalating violence is caused by a lack of communication. I believe the reason we have so much violence in America is that many Americans like violence.
      Somewhat simplistically the answer is they like to watch it and like to do it. As children they learned to like violence. The enjoyment of violence, for itself, is a product of the American entertainment industry.
      Violence in America is promulgated by those people who find violence enjoyable. Much of the violence in America happens because the perpetrator simply felt like hurting someone. Guns and knives are not the cause; rather, the source of violence is the sickness of enjoyed violence within our society.
      There are gentle people and violent people here in America. It is hard to spot any difference in their appearance. The lambs and lions look alike. They lay down together but only one gets up. The difference is lions enjoy violence while the lambs do not.Read full column