Perhaps a prophet of old said it best: “The heart is desperately wicked above all things; who can know it?”
Most of us heard of the mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school campus within hours of its occurrence on Friday. With the news of the tragedy came the heartbreaking revelation that the majority of the victims were young children. Not that it’s acceptable at any time, but this year at least, Americans and even citizens in other countries will be saddened during Christmas as the images linger of distraught children and adults at the scene — along with the realization that, as President Obama noted, the kids who were killed will have no more birthdays, no graduations, no children or grandchildren of their own to raise and enjoy.
In the wake of such a tragedy fingers are immediately pointed in an attempt to place blame, and in this day and time political positions are instantly staked out before salvos are lobbed back and forth from each camp. Gun control will be debated and perhaps legislative measures will be introduced, and the mental health profession will likely be encouraged and maybe even mandated to become better trackers of patients who show tendencies toward violence — and have it as part of their background check before being allowed to purchase firearms.
But maybe a broader redress should be sought, and that would involve some soul-searching of our own and the attention we pay to — and for — our entertainment culture of violence and overt sexuality.
• In the movie “Unforgiven,” the character played by Clint Eastwood conjures up the most hate-filled visage possible before he levels a shotgun and blows away the character played by Gene Hackman. Critics praised one of the most violent westerns in memory, even though it was released 20 years ago, and gave it four Academy Awards.
• “The Basketball Diaries” portrays Leonardo DiCaprio as a teenage heroin addict who in a drug-induced dream state imagines himself going into a classroom, pulling a shotgun from underneath his trench coach, and murdering his fellow students.
• The 8 p.m. hour on the television networks used to be devoted to family programming — giving parents time to send the kids to bed before the ratings-driven sex and violence shows began in earnest an hour later. But now right at 8 sitcoms start with their sexual innuendoes and gyrations, and young children can watch as seemingly normal people are transformed into demons. But fortunately for the “real people” in the shows, the demons can be killed with guns.
• Video games aimed at adolescents give points for the realistic looking enemies slain — thanks to high-tech digital technology — by the teenager with the controls in his hand. A teen school shooter several years ago confessed he used a video game to sharpen his aim before gunning down his classmates, and although it is yet to be seen if the shooter in Connecticut on Dec. 14 was a “gamer,” it is known he preferred to stay indoors on the computer.
• Certain music genres marketed by producers in recent years have promoted shooting law enforcement officers and in their lyrics describe women degradingly and merely as sexual objects, yet these releases continue to sell millions of copies.
So often it falls upon parents — and the grandparents if they have to take over if the birth parents are not responsible enough to raise their own kids — to place safeguards around their children. But when our entire culture — displayed on television, movies and billboards — fills the eye at every turn with images that children shouldn’t be seeing, what is to be done?
In these days anyone proposing a return to ethics and morality is hooted down as prudish and old-fashioned, but it’s obvious the tsunami of violence and in-your-face sexuality has crested and already inundates us. If anyone else has the answers as to why we like to see depicted in fantasy what in reality is killing us, it appears the nation is willing to listen.
Otherwise, we’re just marking time until the next tragedy.
Mark Millican is a former staff writer of The Daily Citizen.