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Dead Violent

28 October 2016 | Ross Jones

So, The Walking Dead has taken a hammering this week – from critics, fans and parents.  

The show, which focuses on a group of survivors making their way through a zombie-plagued, post-apocalyptic dystopia, has been criticised for its use of “gratuitous violence” upon its return to TV.

As a longtime fan of TWD (though one finding its propensity for stunted storytelling and an over-reliance on shock tactics, rather than storytelling and character development, a little tedious) I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. 

Was the violence depicted on Monday night gratuitous? Yeah, I’d say so. Was it a hard watch? Yeah, it was. Was it worthy of the social media uproar, the column inches in the newspapers and, worst of all, the self-important wailing of “concerned parents”? No, absolutely not.

I can’t really see what the fuss is all about. The problem is, if you’re watching a show entitled The Walking Dead, you’re probably going to see some violence (it’s kind of implied in the title). Damn, you’re probably watching because you want to see some violence. 

If TWD is becoming too violent for your particular taste, you can turn it off. Or, you could think “yeah, it was a little much, but it’s a fictional TV show about zombies” and continue about your business. And if your kids are watching it. . . well, maybe, don’t let them.

I get that some people are worried about the effect these shows have on today’s youth. Well, if you’re a parent, a good start would be vetting what your kids watch. And can I just remind you that we live in the age of the internet. The days when TV, violent or otherwise, was the primary influencer are long gone. There are 12 year-olds in Scunthorpe trawling YouTube for raw footage of ISIS members beheading infidels. A generation of teenagers are, right now, sitting in their living rooms, committing armed robberies, doing drug deals and beating up prostitutes on Grand Theft Auto.

Is that an excuse? No. Does it mean that TV shows and gamemakers can do what they want, show what they want? No, we have broadcast regulators and censors to stop that.

Being a parent is difficult (probably, I wouldn’t know, I’m not one, but I have parents and I was pretty difficult . . . so I’m guessing it must be). And if you don’t want your kids exposed to unnecessary violence, make sure they’re not watching shows like TWD, playing violent video games or viewing murders on the internet, be more concerned with what they’re doing when they’re doing it, rather than complaining after the fact. That’s your job.