Dec 21

Are Guns Really the Problem?

Gun Violence ChartIn the wake of the Connecticut school shooting this week, our hearts grieve for the victims. But unfortunately we have to grieve into one hand and stay alert with the other. This tragedy is, as we all expected it would, becoming yet another exploitative attack on our freedom as Americans. Increased violence is the excuse for needing reduced freedom. But is it actually true? That’s my question.

Video Games and TV change our perspective on reality

Video games and violence on television may play a huge roll in our cultural perspective. But maybe not in the way we would think.

I have long held the position that watching violence on our various forms of media does not contribute significantly to actual violent actions of a person. This, of course, is a pretty broad statement that can probably be proven false in particular isolated instances, but on the whole, violence on TV doesn’t turn people into killers.

But I have a new theory that I’m thinking about lately. Perhaps violence in television and video games IS dangerous, but not for the reasons we all think. Dangerous, not because it actually makes us violent, but because it drastically inflates our perception of the violence in our society.

Violence in America isn’t as bad as we thought

If we are consistently watching shows like CSI, Bones, 24, Fringe, Hawaii 5-0, and the like, we are going to be exposed to literally thousands of fake, but seeming realistic, killings and murder scenes per season than we otherwise would. Video games are even worse. One 5 minute game of Modern Warfare or Call of Duty on the xbox can expose us to hundreds of killings that we otherwise would not have seen.

In light of the chart below, using data provided by the CDC and FBI websites, I’m shocked at how little gun related deaths there really are in this country. When I first ran the calculations, I thought “surely this isn’t right”. But I’ve check my numbers several times now, and I keep coming out with the same results.

Perhaps our perception of gun violence is inflated way beyond reality. And, just thinking out loud, perhaps our lawmakers intend to use that to their advantage. What do you think?

Gun Violence Chart

Jul 25

My Top Ten “Nearly There Films”

Taken from the twitter hashtag: #NearlyThereFilms

Here’s a quick list of my top ten movies that just didn’t make the cut.

  1. Partial Recall
  2. O Brother There You Are
  3. Friends on benefits
  4. The Devil Tries on Prada
  5. Snakes Waiting in Airport Security
  6. Schindler’s Bucket List (also: Schindler’s Lisp, and Schindler’s To-Do List.)
  7. Gone with the Breeze
  8. Daydream on Elm Street
  9. The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill & Came down an Even Bigger Hill.
  10. (EX)Terminator
  11. Edward Tweezerhands

If you have any other’s that are good…  Please share.

Jun 21

Movie Review: MIB 3 (Men In Black III)

I went to see this with my 11 year old son. It had been a while since any of us had been to a movie. At $11/head it’s hard to justify, especially when we’re usually disappointed in the movie when it’s done.

However, this experience was different. Despite the dreadful condition of the theater, the movie was rather fun and enjoyable. I had already read the review on Plugged-In Online so I was not expecting any major assaults to my child’s innocents. Side note: Plugged-In Online is a great service. Their job is to point out every single tiny thing wrong (from a Christian perspective) with every movie, and they do that well. So, their comments are often intentionally over-sensitive.

The movie was funny, entertaining, well done, and very worth seeing.  Although I would never take my 5 year old daughter to see it, my 11 year old son loved it and I thought it was great as well.

My daughter would have FREAKED. The antagonist of the show, “Borlin”,  was particularly ugly and had articulated features on his face, feet and hands that moved in ways that would be frightening if you didn’t realize the scene was computer enhanced. He has openings in his hands that opened up to reveal hidden parasitic creatures living inside. This would be way over the top for little children that are impressionable and prone to nightmares. But for my son, who’s favorite game is Call Of Duty on the xBox, these images were great fun.

MIB III was good. They did a great job rounding this movie out and wrapping up the trilogy. We learn a lot about the past, where Jay and Kay come from and why they are together.  The film also combines some other great elements not found in the first two, like time travel and alternate realities. And they do a good job introducing those concepts too.

Overall – I give it 4 out of 5 stars. I would have given a full 5 stars if it had any sort of true lasting or meaningful moral impact in its message. But instead it was basically just fun and entertaining.

Unfortunately, the great movie was almost overshadowed by the horrible theater experience. The quote of the night from my son was…  “the men’s bathroom was the best smelling place in the whole theater.”  And he was right.

May 07

A Commercial Free Existence – Almost

My wife just told my about a conversation she had with my daughter the other day.

When our TV comes on in the living room, the channel that immediately shows defaults to the last one watched. Then from there we can choose which HDMI input or Netflix show to watch. Usually we have some external device, like an XBOX or DVD player hooked up so the screen typically comes up black prior to selecting our viewing destination.

However, one of the days last week, my daughter turned on the TV and it so happened that our ‘basic cable’ programming was on and was in the middle of showing a commercial for something. She watched several commercials and then switched it to Netflix. Some time later she asked Christy about those “short movies” she saw on the TV. They were apparently pretty interesting to her and she wanted to see some more. Christy had to explain… “No, they aren’t short (funny) movies. They are advertizing so that you will want to buy their products.”

I guess that satisfied her curiosity enough to go on to something else. But I got to thinking about it and realized that it’s true, my kids are growing up in a very different world than I did. In her case, my daughter gets nearly 100% of her entertainment from either Netflix or a few select internet sites, neither of which have commercials or advertizing. She has rarely, if ever, seen an on-screen video commercial and didn’t even know what it was.

Granted, the rest of the family are seeing ads in other places like Youtube, Hulu, and TV (still), but by the time my kids turn 10 or 12 I’m guessing they will have only seen probably 15% to 20% of the commercials that I saw growing up. I remember Saturday morning cartoons being about 50% commercials. Then again, when I was young NONE of the ads were click-able.

This reality struck me funny so I thought I would put it out there to see if anyone else had any thoughts on this trend. Are kids seeing less advertizing these days?