fail us. When we fall in love, when our kids take their
first steps, and in other times of joy it can seem that
our vocabularies are inadequate to express our emotions.
Words may not seem enough in times of sorrow, anger or disgust
either. Some events, some things, and some feelings are
just too powerful to be encapsulated by a word or a phrase.
Because words pale in comparison to what we try to describe,
we give up trying to express it at all.
And then there are the times that we know exactly what we
need to say, but we just don't have the right word to say
it. I've had that feeling a lot lately as I've kept track
of the rising tide of extreme violence in the entertainment
media. Depictions of grisly, brutal violence are prevalent
in every form of entertainment media, from video games to
movies, from pop songs to TV shows. There should be a word
that describes this kind of violence that has become so
popular with media-makers in recent decades.
We have the word pornographic-it refers to the graphic depiction
of sexual acts-but we don't have a word for the graphic
depiction of brutal violence. I propose that we add the
word killographic to the English language. Killographic
entertainment is an epidemic in this country, and if we
want to stop its harmful effects from hurting our kids,
we need to start by putting a name to it.
Recently, while we were putting together the Eighth Annual
MediaWise Report Card, we came across a game called Manhunt.
This game, like last year's popular Grand Theft Auto: Vice
City, is so filled with hyper-real scenes of disturbing
violence, it seems to be in a different category from nearly
anything else available. These games' extreme killographic
depictions of butchering fellow human beings compel me to
do what some might consider butchering the English language.
Parents know that exposing their children to pornography
is irresponsible and harmful. In recent years, study after
study has suggested that exposure to killographic media
has a powerful negative impact on kids' behavior, brain
development, and future life choices. Rating systems and
reviews can give parents the information about media choices
to protect their kids. That's why MediaWise parents who
want what is best for their children keep killographic entertainment
out of their homes and lives.
Giving a name to the insidious practice of portraying horrifying
death and violence won't instantly stop this kind of entertainment
from appearing on TVs, in theaters, and on video screens.
But calling killographic depictions by a name that reminds
us that they are just as extreme and age-sensitive as pornographic
scenes will help us to the next step: keeping our kids safe
and telling the media moguls that enough is enough.
David Walsh, Ph.D. is the president and
founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family
He has written seven books and is a frequent guest on national
radio and television.
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