A legendary British producer says movies and television are partially responsible for the increasing problem of aggression in youngsters, according to news sources.
David Puttnam, the Oscar-winning producer of “Chariots of Fire,” delivered the keynote address last week to England’s Anti-Bullying Alliance, a government-sponsored group that draws on 50 organizations from the public and private sectors. The event was held at the Imperial War Museum in London.
Puttnam said violence and aggression portrayed in Hollywood products help account for the aggressive behavior, including bullying, of impressionable youth.
“We cannot afford to remain blind to the impact films and moving images of all kinds have on young people,” Puttnam planned to tell the audience, according to a Guardian article. (Only Puttnam’s scheduled remarks have been made available.) Puttnam also told the paper, however, he didn’t wish to lump all media products together, nor was he in favor of strict censorship.
The event held special import coming two weeks after a 12-year-old Essex boy was found hanged in his home. Police are investigating reports that the boy was being bullied, the Guardian said.
“For too long the movies have been playing games with reality, playing with it in such a way as to allow actions to become entirely divorced from their consequences,” Puttnam planned to say, citing the films “Falling Down, “Man on Fire” and “Natural Born Killers” as examples.
“For too long sensation has come to eclipse almost everything—bigger and better explosions that miraculously don’t kill the most important of the protagonists; simulated plane crashes in which the right people somehow survive; and, most common of all, shootings that manage to create victims without widows or orphans,” the article also said, quoting from Puttnam’s planned remarks.
Puttnam said Hollywood should become more proactive and foster more positive themes. In fact, some shows attempt to do that. For example, “7th Heaven” on the WB network aired an episode called “Teased” in its 2001 season. A guide about bullying and school violence, using the episode as a focus, remains available.
Puttnam, 64, produced “The Killing Fields,” “The Mission” and “Memphis Belle,” in addition to dozens of other films. He no longer produces movies, but has taken an active role in public life. He has chaired the General Teaching Council and held other education posts in England. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1995.
The ABA site said bullying can be either emotional or physical, but it is harmful in either case. Other characteristics attributed to bullying were “persistent,” “intentionally harmful” and “an imbalance of power leaving the victim feeling defenceless.”
“The Dr. Phil Show” featured the topic of bullying last Tuesday, with a special appearance by former “American Idol” singer and current pop star Clay Aiken, who says he was bullied growing up.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.