GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: Information to furnish the mind

Mass Killings, Mental Health, and Television

It fills me with wonder when I turn from mainstream breast-beating about mass shootings and anti-social young people to the world of television where killing and anti-social behavior are admired.

This summer I started watching Under the Dome, but had to quit when the sadistic behavior escalated.

I used to enjoy the CSI programs, but, again, I had to drop them from my viewing schedule when the straightforward forensic-focused plots shifted to evil depictions of psychotic behavior and repeated re-enactments thereof–a la Criminal Minds.

Even a decent police drama like Blue Bloods features an emotionally unbalanced policeman who throws violent tantrums when an investigation isn’t going his way.

A TV series about a chemistry teacher turned criminal won Emmy honors in 2013. A past Emmy winner is Dexter, a series whose hero is a serial killer.

As if dreadful plots and enactments of disturbed behavior weren’t enough, the most despicable characters are cast with nice-looking actors associated with sympathetic roles. The series Hostages features Dylan McDermott as a man who promises to kill a surgeon’s family if she doesn’t murder the President of the United States during an operation. To make matters worse, this murderous terrorist is supposed to be an FBI agent.

TV advertising is getting to be almost as bad as the dramas. An insurance ad shows a woman dressed as a burglar restoring stolen items as quickly as other burglars steal them. What’s the message there? That burglarizing someone’s house doesn’t really matter?

Blaming tragedies like Columbine, the Colorado movie theater, and Sandy Hook on parents who failed to act on warning signs of mental instability in their children is the ultimate hypocrisy.

When people do seek help for a mentally disturbed, violent family member, they are told to suck it up. Apart from a few days in jail or a hospital mental ward, no arrangements exist to prevent the next mass murderer from turning a gun or an ax on a crowd of innocents.

If Americans don’t want slaughter and sadism in real life, they need to stop modeling so much of it in their entertainment. If they really are beginning to recognize the scope of mental illness in this country, they need to force state lawmakers to provide adequate facilities for dealing with it.

One Response

  1. Not much better over here, if at all, for all the similar reasons. However, the Scandi-noir and Scandi-politico “Borgen” and “Inspector Montalbano” series on BBC (Channel) 4 are usually worthwhile.

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