TOM & JERRY AND VIOLENCE
Before I begin, I would like to state here and now that this is my opinion. This is an editorial.
I have been asked many times about this subject. I can't say that I am an expert, I have not done much research into this subject. But when one has a web site devoted to a cartoon that is synonymous with violence the topic needs to be addressed.
So. Does the violence in cartoons affect children?
I don't have a definitive answer. I can not rightly say Yes and I can not rightly say No. Wishy-washy, I know. But before you write me off, please hear me out. I am not a psychologist nor am I a counselor. I am a geek that has grown up watching Saturday morning cartoons and now runs a web site that is devoted to a cartoon. With this in mind, here is the answer to that question as it relates to me.
Yes, but to a point.
I grew up in a good home, but I did not have a lot of friends. TV for me was like my best friend. I watched A LOT of it. Did I watch a lot of violence on TV? Yes, and how! My parents are immigrants. They didn't understand a lot of the American culture nor fully grasp the English language. I did a lot of the translating for them. With that in mind I took advantage from time to time (what kid doesn't). As such I was privy to watching pretty much whatever I wanted. I saw R-rated movies well before I should have. Shockingly enough I grew up well adjusted. But how can that be? Well, I had a lot of positive reinforcement to counter-balance the imagery that I put in my head.
Let me explain. I used to watch Tom and Jerry with my dad. In fact I use to watch a lot of movies with my parents. They taught me that what I was seeing on TV is not real, that the stuff in movies is not real, and that the cartoons are not real. I think we have gotten to the point in society where we don't give kids enough credit. I think kids can distinguish between reality and cartoons. But I think that the role of the parent should not be dumped to a TV set. I think that parents need to take and active role in their kids lives. If all the child sees is violent imagery, then I think that they [kids] will also end up committing violence. There needs to be something positive in there lives and it shouldn't come from the TV set. There also needs to be sense of consequence...if you drop an anvil on a cat's head (like in the cartoons) that cat (in real life) will not get up again.
However, even though my parents were around a lot and though I watched a lot of violence on TV, I am not a violent person. Do I get angry? Yes. Do I have violent thoughts when that bonehead cuts me off on the highway? Yup. Do I act out my aggression? No. I've had a lot of positive influences on my life. I've had a role model in my life since I was in 2nd grade and I have been trying to emulate his character as best as I can, with varying degrees of success and failure. So where does that leave me? Desensitized. I'm no longer shocked by what I see. Which is rather sad in my opinion.
Here is something else...What if I didn't have this kind of loving parental environment growing up. What if I lived in that rough neighborhood that even the police don't go in? Growing up witnessing street death, domestic abuse, drugs, etc. What if I had a group of "friends" that see society as having deserted me? Violence is about environment and real life conditioning.
Cartoon violence in various degrees has been around since Mortimer Mouse (Mickey Mouse) in Steam Boat Willie. Popeye, 3 Stooges, Superman, Looney Tunes, on and on. Man has been violent since time began...we are all capable of some form of violence or another. Are cartoons to blame? Is the media responsible? No, blame the person not the cartoon. We are all responsible for our own actions. Violence in cartoons and in movies only serve to desensitize us from it in real life. However, for some, media violence serves as a repository of ideas.
In the end, it all boils down to the individual and the choices that they make. This has been my two cents on cartoon violence. You are welcome to disagree with me on this, but please don't send me nasty e-mails expressing that disagreement.
October 23, 2004. Author: Rome