The other day I was sitting in front of the tube watching a movie that came out in January 1995 called ‘Higher Learning’. Within a couple of days some wacko ran through the halls of an Omaha, Nebraska shopping mall. For those of who have never seen the movie, the plot is about two young men, one black, one white, who are attending a university. Their interaction with each other thickens, culminating in a rumble with the white kids losing the fight and turning to guns to start a race war. Remy, the lead white character becomes misled with vision of ‘White power’ heroism, takes a rifle er, assault rifle to the rooftop of a building, and begins shooting into a crowd of people who are celebrating diversity. He kills a white girl and Malik’s (main black character) girlfriend.
In February of 1996, the first school shooting took place in Moses Lake, WA. when four people were shot, three of which were killed, by then 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis. Like the school shooting character Remy, Barry Loukaitis, in his own words blamed the ‘relentless bullying’ that occurred to him at school. Only Barry didn’t cite Higher Learning as a motivational factor, but instead Stephen King’s ‘Rage’.
One year later another school shooting occurred in Alaska by a 16 year old. 6 months after that another 16 year old shot and killed 2 people and wounding another seven in Pearl, MS, and just two months after that in Pudacah, KY 8 people were shot by a 14 year old. A generational trend was formed. Six more school shootings would occur before the notorious Columbine school shooting on April 20, 1999 by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Once again the movie Higher Learning missed being cited as a influential factor, but this time the movie ‘Natural Born Killers’ killers was.
Before the week was over, then President Bill Clinton began advocating for more gun control as a solution to the problem. Only problem was, none of the teenagers doing school shootings could legally take a gun to school. So with a President who would rather promote a political agenda than to figure out a solution to stop school shootings, it was destined to continue. One month later in Georgia, it did. This time it was a 15 year old depressed because his girlfriend broke up with him. Several school shootings took place at High Schools around the nation for the next few years. In 2002 school shootings finally hit a college campus. Only one thing that separates this from being a generational influence, the shooter Robert Flores was 41 years old.
I’m talking about this because of the recent mall shooting and because of the mockery of the Virgina Tech students by Penn State students. Do I blame the movie Higher Learning, Natural Learning, or perhaps Stephen Kings books such as ‘Rage’ and ‘Apt Pupil’? No, or rather, not completely.
I find it hypocritical of artist who claim that their music or movies don’t influence people negatively, but then try to reach out to children with a song and pat their selves on the back bragging to the world “if it helps just one child it’s worth it’. My question is, if it helps one child, but encourages three or four children to do wrong, is it still worth it?
A fine example of this would be Ice-T’s band named Body Count, in which Ice T had controversy around a song titled ‘Cop Killer’. Ice -T said the song wouldn’t encourage children to kill cops, yet he hoped that the song on the same album titled ‘The Winner Loses’ would help children stay away from cocaine. The artist in Hollywood have convinced their selves that they can not impact people negatively, but always positively. It’s an arrogance that excuses entertainment to become more vulgar, crude, and violent, with it a society that has followed Hollywood’s lead.
We have, as a society, accepted our entertainment culture to warp the minds of our youth, but that’s the most unfortunate thing. It isn’t that movies, television, and music has become such an influence over our lives, but that we as a society has a allowed it. We let the entertainment industry become the babysitters of children, and now we’re going to see the impact that the internet is going to have on a generation of unsupervised children.
It’s sad that people are looking to idols for their leadership, but it’s a severe problem when children don’t hold their parents with higher or at least equal value. It’s our moral obligation as a society to assist, not govern, parents in their responsibility of raising their own children. If we want to solve the problem then parents need to limit the hours of television their children are watching, take a more active role in their lives. It’s a parents primary responsibility to teach their children about life and not to be their friend.
The crisis we face is such when this influence is over riding parents who are meeting their parental responsibilities. What needs to be done is to remove government interference of the parents responsibility to raise their children. We can not let parents continue to live in fear of discipling their children under the threat that the Department of Social Services remove their children. We have parents choosing not to discipline their children rather than to lose their children. We’ve over protected children to the point that it’s seems safer to parents to let the children run freely and unsupervised than to be punished for doing what’s right. We need to trust parents to raise their own children because the government will assuredly be more inadequate, more irresponsible, and more abusive at raising children than the parents will ever be.