Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Jenkins and the journalist
Henry Jenkins describes what he would have liked to say at a talk-show in USA. One of the things I don't do when I am in the US is watch television, but I know of the genre: it's brutal even in fairly polite little Norway, it's impossible to complete an argument, and conflict is everything.

I would most likely have reacted like Henry Jenkins, I agree with him, I am impressed with the data he introduces, and I dislike fanatics who can't enter into an interactive argument, only yelling contests. But in the clear light of secondhand hindsight I think there is a real, clear-cut conflict where media panic as expressed by Daphne White is the one side. The other side in that conflict is the fear of facing real social issues. As long as concerned parents complain about computer games, they don't question the quality of public education, the organisation of society, welfare, support to single parents, or any of the many topics which all concern the environment children grow into adults in.

It's a much larger problem that children grow up in a society where the alternative to being in trouble on the street is sitting in front of a computer. When did their choices become limited to this? What happened to teaching the children how to help out in the home, what happened to participation and collective action? When did the parents outsource their responsibility?

Media panics are an expression of helplessness and fear. When something new intrudes this becomes the focus of the terror, the scapegoat. Banning computer games would not reduce violence. A better standard of living, more control over your life and equal opportunities independent of race, class and gender would. But as long as people worry about computer games, there's no need to change any of the real issues. This is why the liberal intellectual who might ask the wrong - or the right - questions needs to be discredited.

Link by way of Gonzalo

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