Thursday, February 14, 2008

Violence and Youth

I get really annoyed when people get overly nostalgic and talk about how dreadfully brutal and violent my generation is in comparison to "simpler times." So I was delighted when Ken emailed me this article from a couple years ago debunking the connection between violent video games and the "rise" in youth violence. The writer looks at FBI statistics and finds out that Generation Y is the least violent generation in recorded American history.
That first graph is the overall violent crime rate, and we're talking about youth violence here. So I found the data sorted by age, and it turns out that through 2002, youth homicide actually dropped across the board, the only increase being among adults. If I may quote directly from the D.O.J. report, "Recently, the offending rates for 14-17 year-olds reached the lowest levels ever recorded."

The lowest levels ever recorded. In other words, the Playstation era has, in fact, produced the most non-violent kids ever.
I remember when I was in High School they had a big fuss over kids who were supposedly carrying guns to school, and I remember seeing the Principal searching lockers and the dogs coming by periodically. And then when Columbine happened and the High School went on lockdown. And banning backpacks, and then taking back the ban, and then banning them again. I graduated the year before they instituted school uniforms in my public school district. (Which was funny to me, because I remember my class protesting the idea, and I remember my sister getting suspended for protesting the dress code before I ever got there.)

I'd figured back when I was in school the hysteria would fade, but every once in a while something like this idiocy (from last fall) comes up and we hear about how Congress is discussing the fucking video games and someone's crying "Think of the children!"

And we have the most violent mass media we've ever had. And the most accessible font of information ever available to young people. And we're a country that is constantly--constantly on the edge, panicking at the stupidest shit. And... the violent crime rate is dropping. (Check the Preliminary 2007 Stats, see all those minuses under "Total"?) The age trend shown in that 2005 article is that each new group of kids was more peaceful than the last.

And each new group of kids has less freedom than the last. The kids in my old High School right now probably wouldn't dream of the day those doors were left unlocked during class hours, of being able to arrive late and sneak in after the bell, or of no one buzzing past the secretary. I don't think by now any of them would have gone to school when we wore normal clothing. And the dogs and the Principal searching the locker isn't a weird thing. Security guards aren't a weird thing. If the trend continues, security guards asking girls about their menstrual cycles won't be a weird thing.

I know someone will attribute this as cause and effect, except the tightening of security and the loss of civil rights is caused by a false perception that these children are more violent than the generation that's making the rules. In reality, they're less violent and therefore deserve more freedom.

Anyway, do me a favor and pass these stats around. The last couple generations have been getting a pretty bad rap.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

John Stewart cast!

According to MTV Movies Blog:
From the first time Clark Kent walked into a phone booth mild mannered and walked out able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, the concept of superheroes having dual identities has been almost as important to the genre as the superpowers themselves. Not so for John Stewart, Earth’s fourth Green Lantern and sometimes member of the “Justice League of America” — one of the more prominent heroes to choose not to wear a mask.

Now the actor who was cast to play him is pulling back his.

Long rumored to be in contention for the role, Common confirmed to MTV News for the first time publically that he was cast in the now dormant film, calling being picked for the role “an honor.”

“It’s a blessing really, to know that I could potentially be this superhero,” he enthused. “Justice League itself is an honor, and Green Lantern is an incredible character to play. It’s a blessing to be associated with it.”
I love how excited all the actors are for this movie. Hopefully with the strike clearing up they can get it back into production.