The Culture War
Years ago, I saw a forum post that contained an excerpt of the following article. After searching, I found the article was written by Tom Standage over at Wired.com back in April of 2006. The article is archived on their site and the formatting is kind of wonky, so I've included it in full here. It's funny how people never seem to learn from the past.
"US senator Charles Schumer says some videogames aimed at kids "desensitize them to death and destruction." But dire pronouncements about new forms of entertainment are old hat. It goes like this: Young people embrace an activity. Adults condemn it. The kids grow up, no better or worse than their elders, and the moral panic subsides. Then the whole cycle starts over. Here's how the establishment has greeted past scourges.
"The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth; and prevented others from improving their minds in useful knowledge. Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?"
- Reverend Enos Hitchcock, Memoirs of the Bloomsgrove Family, 1790
"The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced ... at the English Court on Friday last ... It is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs, and close compressure of the bodies ... to see that it is far indeed removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is ... forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion."
- The Times of London, 1816
"This new form of entertainment has gone far to blast maidenhood ... Depraved adults with candies and pennies beguile children with the inevitable result. The Society has prosecuted many for leading girls astray through these picture shows, but GOD alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives begun at the 'moving pictures.'"
- The Annual Report of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1909
"Does the telephone make men more active or more lazy? Does [it] break up home life and the old practice of visiting friends?"
- Survey conducted by the Knights of Columbus Adult Education Committee, San Francisco Bay Area, 1926
"Many adults think that the crimes described in comic books are so far removed from the child's life that for children they are merely something imaginative or fantastic. But we have found this to be a great error. Comic books and life are connected. A bank robbery is easily translated into the rifling of a candy store. Delinquencies formerly restricted to adults are increasingly committed by young people and children ... All child drug addicts, and all children drawn into the narcotics traffic as messengers, with whom we have had contact, were inveterate comic-book readers This kind of thing is not good mental nourishment for children!"
- Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, 1954
Rock and Roll
"The effect of rock and roll on young people, is to turn them into devil worshippers; to stimulate self-expression through sex; to provoke lawlessness; impair nervous stability and destroy the sanctity of marriage. It is an evil influence on the youth of our country."
- Minister Albert Carter, 1956
"The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it's making the difficult job of being a parent even harder ... I believe that the ability of our children to access pornographic and outrageously violent material on video games rated for adults is spiraling out of control."
- US senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2005