Estimates vary widely, but an average child is reported to log roughly 36,000 hours of television by the age of 18, viewing some 15,000 murders.
The myth of redemptive violence is the simplest, laziest, most exciting,
uncomplicated, irrational, and primitive depiction of evil the world has
even known. Furthermore, its orientation toward evil is one into which
virtually all modern children (boys especially) are socialised in the
process of maturation. Children select this mythic structure because they have already been led, by culturally reinforced cues and role models, to resonate with its simplistic view of reality. Its presence everywhere is not the result of a conspiracy of Babylonian priests secretly buying up the mass media with Iraqi oil money, but a function of values endlessly reinforced by the Domination System. By making violence pleasurable, fascinating, and entertaining, the Powers are able to delude people into compliance with a system that is cheating them of their very lives.
The psychodynamics of the TV cartoon or comic book are marvelously simple:
children identify with the good guy so that they can think of themselves
as good. This enables them to project out onto the bad guy their own
repressed anger, violence, rebelliousness, or lust, and then vicariously
to enjoy their own evil by watching the bad guy initially prevail. This
segment of the show – the ”Tammuz” element, where the hero suffers –
actually consumes all but the closing minutes, allowing ample time for
indulging the violent side of the self. When the good guy finally wins,
viewers are then able to reassert control over their own inner tendencies,
repress them, and re-establish a sense of goodness without coming to any
insight about their own inner evil. The villain’s punishment provides
catharsis; one forswears the villain’s ways and heaps condemnation on him
in a guilt-free orgy of aggression. Salvation is found through
identification with the hero.
Once children have been indoctrinated into the expectations of a dominator
society, they may never outgrow the need to locate all evil outside
themselves. Even as adults they tend to scapegoat others for all that is
wrong in the world. They continue to depend on group identification and
the upholding of social norms for a sense of well-being.
No religious system has even remotely rivalled the myth of
redemptive violence in its ability to catechise its young so totally. From
the earliest age, children are awash in depictions of violence as the
ultimate solution to human conflicts. Nor does saturation in the myth end
with the close of adolescence. There is no rite of passage from adolescent
to adult status in the national cult of violence, but rather a years-long
assimilation to adult television and movie fare. Not all shows for
children or adults are based on violence, of course. Reality is far more
complex than the simplicities of this myth, and maturer minds will demand
more subtle, nuanced, complex presentations. But the basic structure of
the combat myth underlies the pap to which a great many adults turn in
order to escape the harsher realities of their everyday lives: spy
thrillers, westerns, cop shows, and combat programmes. It is as if we must
watch so much ”redemptive” violence to reassure ourselves, against the
deluge of facts to the contrary in our actual day-to-day lives, that
reality really is that simple.