Excerpt from Savage Pastimes

"Television, of course -- along with other branches of the media -- is often blamed for fostering, if not creating, a morbid interest in violence and crime. But that accusation is demonstrably false, since the public's craving for grim entertainment existed long before there was such a thing as 'the media'."

"From crucified criminals lining the Appian Way in ancient Rome, to medieval traitors left to rot in dangling gibbets, to the gunned-down outlaws exhibited in store windows and undertaking parlors of the Old West, the dead and decomposing bodies of murderers, thieves, and rapists (and sometimes of perfectly innocent victims of lynch mobs) have always been put on public display. And the law-abiding, God-fearing types who flock to see these gruesome spectacles have often felt a need to procure a little keepsake."

"In the fifteenth-century French play, The Vengeance of Our Lord, a group of desperate mothers reluctantly conclude that the only way to stave off starvation is by devouring their own infants. Since the mere suggestion of cannibalistic infanticide was clearly insufficient for medieval theatergoers, technicians devised realistic dolls with removable limbs made of dough, so that the mothers could actually be shown feasting on the arms and legs of their children."

"Shootings, stabbings, scalpings, stranglings -- on network TV! And what was the psychological effect of this constant barrage of media violence on us baby boomers? ...we grew up to be the generation that preached (however sanctimoniously) peace, love and flower power, and believed we could end the Vietnam War by surrounding the Pentagon and chanting "Om." The same kids who had spent their childhoods shooting each other with die-cast revolvers and plastic flintlocks grew up to be teenagers who engaged in such violent activities as lying around their crash pads and staring at lava lamps."


Jamie Stockton