Last week a tragic act of violence occurred in Slaughter, LA, where an 8-year-old boy shot and killed his grandmother, 87-year-old Marie Smothers, whom was his caretaker at the time. Police report that Smothers was watching TV when the 8-year-old picked up a .38-caliber handgun and shot her.
District Attorney Samuel D’Aquilla says it was an accident, that the boy thought “it was a toy gun, a play gun.” Reports have also shown that the 8-year-old and his grandmother had a “loving relationship,” so there must have been a reason he was so violent, right? I googled this story for more information and these were just a few of the common article titles to pop up:
“8-Year old shoots, Kills Elderly Caregiver After Video Game”
“8-Year old Shoots Grandmother in Head After Playing Violent Video Game”
“8-Year-Old Boy Allegedly Shoots And Kills His Grandmother After Playing Grand Theft Auto IV”
Yep, Grand Theft Auto IV. Let me remind everyone that GTA IV is a rated “M” game, meant for those 17 years or older. So if the media serves us right, let us never mind the fact that this child had access to an M-rated game and more importantly, access to a loaded gun. Let us blame the video game instead.
This debate about video games causing violence has been going on for a long time now. Yet, we witness violence in movies and TV shows all the time. What is it about video games that has people in such an uproar? What has people, including U.S. Senators, thinking video games are a “bigger problem than guns?”
A common answer to these questions is: Simple! The government and media need a scapegoat. They need something to point the finger at. Instead of putting the blame on the parents or the person who committed the crimes themselves, they rather point the finger at video games. Often times in this blame game, there are little facts and such a complete ignorance when it comes to the video games themselves. These reporters have little to no experience with video games, let alone Grand Theft Auto.
The struggle for objectivity is real with HLN. If you clicked that link and watched, I am sure you noticed the dramatic music and statements he makes on how violent the game is. Don’t get me wrong, Grand Theft Auto IS violent but I somehow doubt he would make those remarks during the new Riddick movie or next Game of Thrones episode. Riddick has an “R” rating and Game of Thrones will have a “TV-MA” rating. Hey you, news guy, notice anything similar here?
How about next time there is an act of violence, especially by a child, we look at the whole picture? Instead of blaming the video game, how about we examine everything that went wrong? That would be refreshing. At the very least, can we start with a more accurate title to these articles? Although, “8-Year-Old Has Unsupervised Access to rated-M Game and a Loaded Gun” isn’t as eye-catching is it?