Campbell Brown writes that during his push for gun control, President Obama has left Hollywood and its graphic portrayals of violence out of the discussion.
The president’s campaign against gun violence has produced a stale debate marked by lots of speeches with little achieved. A more creative chief executive would have used this moment to widen the discussion by drawing attention to the increasingly graphic violence so pervasive in television shows, movies and videogames. Mr. Obama is particularly well positioned to challenge Hollywood because of his special relationship with the media world’s elites. They might be more likely to heed criticism coming from Mr. Obama than from any other president or member of Congress.
Or, Obama is particularly poorly positioned to challenge the entertainment industry because he is so dependent on them funding him and saying nice things about him. “Who owns who?” is an important question to ask.
Dr. Victor Strasberger, the leading researcher on media violence for the American Academy of Pediatrics, could tell the CDC and the president what to expect: “All our studies show portraying violence is extremely dangerous,” Dr. Strasberger recently told me. “Kids become desensitized, numb to suffering around them and aggressive.” He also says that when you add in other factors like poverty, abuse or mental illness, “you have a perfect storm. This can and does lead to violence.”
Dr. Strasberger says he was stunned that the White House seems to have little interest in the available evidence. On the subject of media violence, Mr. Biden met only with representatives of the entertainment and videogame industry and researchers who support the industry. Not a single doctor or researcher critical of media violence met with the vice president.
That’s a shame, since there is a consensus among doctors and mental-health professionals about the danger to children from exposure to the violence depicted by movies, television and videogames.
Brown goes on to detail studies that show links between media and videogame portrayals of violence and violent behavior, and wonders why Obama has not made pressuring media to ratchet down those portrayals a priority.
He could pick up the phone and call up former Democrat Sen. Chris Dodd, who now heads the MPAA, and ask him to lobby the movie industry to tone things down.
He hasn’t, he won’t. Brown’s mistake is to assume that the current gun control push is sincerely about reducing violence. If that were the case, though, wouldn’t those pushing for new laws at least push something that could really reduce violence, and wouldn’t they try working with Second Amendment advocates, rather than demonizing us?
The current gun debate is fed by the left’s political profiteering on tragedy, and is aimed at least in part at cracking the power of the NRA. It’s not really about guns or reducing violence.