Guns, guts and games: Violence in media is not to blame

With the controversial game “Hatred” slated for release this year, once again we must ask ourselves: Are these games safe? Personally, the answer is clear: Of course they are.

Essentially a murder-simulator, “Hatred” is merely the latest in a long line of similar scapegoats. Once upon a time, the scapegoat’s name was Elvis. Then came Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson, the “Doom” series and the “Grand Theft Auto” (GTA) series. Each of the aforementioned subjects has received their fair share of backlash and controversy under the guise of morality, and each has overcome and surpassed those claims. There’s a reason each scapegoat is worse than the last: We get used to them.

If there were truly a problem among media, Elvis would still be the target of this irrational blame. The list would have become longer instead of merely changing subjects. “Hatred” is nothing new anyway. It is basically GTA with less plot, but many people don’t buy GTA for the plot anyway, just the sandbox gameplay. In GTA you don’t need to pay a prostitute for sex then kill her and get your money back, but people do. You don’t need to fly an airplane into a traffic jam, get into a massive fire fight with the police, and steal a tank to run away in, but people do. These are the things Grand Theft Auto is famous for. All “Hatred” is doing is making those GTA attributes the purpose instead of benefit.

Video games and movies have rating systems, especially video games, where stores like GameStop check ID for proof of age before selling a game rated “M”. Music has the “parental advisory” sticker. Why are parents allowing their children to play these games and such if they are so concerned with how they will react to them? An easy solution to the enormous issue of media violence is parental action. If more people took the time to look at what their kids are playing, watching, hearing, and reading, maybe it would be easier to know why the children act out.

What people must begin to understand is that correlation does not equal causation. Yes, it is usually apparent that the people that commit violent acts (the shooting at Columbine, the assassination of John Lennon, etc.) consume some sort of media that can be blamed. But that doesn’t mean the game, book, or whatever else is found, actually caused the event. Think about that. When you’re happy, do you want to listen to sad music? When you’re angry, do you really want to play “Animal Crossing”? The media merely matches the mood of the user; we seek out books and movies that we feel like we relate to. The over-saturation of negative media may just be a sign of deeper psychological issues or depression that should be dealt with by the user. Unfortunately, most help comes too late.

The fact of the matter is, it’s not the games that are the problem. Violence among teens (or anyone else) is not caused by violent video games, dirty song lyrics, or scary movies (if it were, I personally would be in prison, not college). Blaming the media for violence is like blaming a spoon for making someone fat. The tool isn’t the problem, the user is.