The Media Marketing Accountability Act, How Could This Be a Good Thing?
- Sean Girard
There is nothing like a good drive by shooting. The rush of it all, guns blazing, heart pounding, and enough firepower to stop anyone who stands in your way. It's like experiencing heaven on Earth for a few brief moments. This is a common misconception of what most politicians believe will happen to a child's mentality after playing a round of Grand Theft Auto III.
Gang violence has increased dramatically over the past few years, especially in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. This issue has been blamed on many things, but the strongest factor of them all is video games. Senator Herb Kohl and Senator Joe Lieberman have even created a bill called the Media Marketing Accountability Act.
This act enables the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to fine developers for marketing their adult rated products towards minors. The FTC could even stop developers from advertising their product (such as movies, video games, and music) in magazines, on certain TV channels, and wherever they feel the ad will be a liability towards minors.
If the developers ignore this regulation, they will fine them around 11,000 dollars per a day, depending on the offense. When and if the bill does pass the FTC can put these regulations into action developing all of their sets of rules over a two-year period. After two years, the FTC will make a report on the progress they have made (for example who they prevented from advertising towards minors) and how much money they have collected from the developers for their offenses.
Senator Herb Kohl stated, "For too long, the entertainment industry has drawn a bull's-eye on our children's backs, targeting them with violent video games, movies and music". The greatly deceived senator believes that electronic gaming is the leading cause of violent youth. He continued his statement with, "This legislation is simple. It targets the worst behavior.saying that their product is harmful to children, but then luring them into the theaters or stores to see it or buy it." This statement is completely true, the only time I've ever seen any Grand Theft Auto commercial was on USA and Superstation, and both are rarely watched by children.
David Cole with game-industry research firm DFC Intelligence shared a different point of view, "The industry is already self-regulating, so I have trouble finding out what the intention is. You don't see Grand Theft Auto III being advertised on Nickelodeon."
Recent studies show that games only cause a maximum 6 percent of violent mentality among children. The factor that outweighs them all is a violent home life. With all of the energy, time, and state funding the senators have consumed could have been used towards better law enforcement, state health care, and various other problems that could have better benefited the general population.
A major disadvantage of the bill is that it will cause massive amounts of minors to flee to piracy sites (also known as warez sites) to download the latest-greatest game. Piracy is already a major problem, causing numerous big name developers, like Westwood, the creators of the Command & Conquer series, to be absorbed into companies like Electronic Arts, commonly known as EA Games. The latest edition to the series, Command & Conquer Generals, proved how this can be a very bad thing.
Piracy is a huge problem causing $3 billion dollars of lost revenue annually. Most people just think of this as one less Lamborghini in the developer's garage, but they are mistaken. Piracy has caused great developers to fall off the map, giving gamers less and less of a variety of games. The loss has been so great that "big wigs" like ID software, creators of various series from Doom to Wolfenstein, have deeply considered making their products online only, a sort of pay-by-play system. Even though the general population has access to the Internet, a broadband connection has been speculated to make the system work, greatly decreasing the ability for PC gamers to play the next best game.
The next devastating disadvantage would be lost revenue. Since persons under the age of 18 won't be able to buy the next Grand Theft Auto, revenue will be lost and an even greater amount will be lost because of warez sites. Since most parents don't understand why Grand Theft Auto was a major success, large amounts of kids will be out of luck when Grand Theft Auto: Vegas spins around the corner. If the Senators ever attempted to play Grand Theft Auto with an open mind they would find one of the most entertaining free-form crime games on the market.
The recent additions to the Grand Theft Auto series have received a mixed bag of reviews. The most accurate of them all have been received from the likes of PC GAMER, PSM and Gamepro. All of which understand that Grand Theft Auto wasn't one blood bath after the other with "******s shakin' their stuff" at every other street corner, which were included as a creative health bonus mechanism, but an epic saga of a local car thief making his way to the top of the criminal food chain. The least accurate comments were received by parenting groups, misinformed senators, public figures and various news groups.
Parents have been a major issue on this subject. Since most parents are in such a hurry nowadays, they have uncaringly bought inappropriate entertainment products for their kids. Then for some reason unknown to the rest of the world, they have went and complained to retailers, started concern groups, and pushed politicians to take action for the sake of their children, when in reality they couldn't take the time to look at the products clearly posted rating. Besides publishing the standard ESRB rating on the package, what else can the publishers be expected to do? The responsibility lies in the parents to choose what they purchase, the developers can't hold their hand on the way to the check-out counter.
On his website Senator Lieberman clearly stated that, "Companies were going so far as to conduct focus groups for R-rated slasher films with 9- and 10-year olds and to pass out promotional materials for other violent R-rated movies at Campfire Girl meetings and Boys and Girls Clubs." While this may be true, it doesn't mean that every producer out there is trying to turn America's children into the next John Gacey. While I do not agree with the producer for making this decision, he was just trying to make a buck, even though it was in a very irresponsible manner.
Just because, a few producers have used this careless manner to get a larger audience into the theaters, shouldn't hold every producer or developer out their responsible and does not provide enough controversy to make this bill succeed or even be worthwhile. An effective alternative to this bill would have been to punish the few instead of the many. The Boys and Girls Club was very irresponsible for their actions. Building their selves on the premise that they would keep kids off the streets, away from gangs, and clear of crime the Boys and Girls Club went behind parents' backs and stirred unnecessary controversy. When they accepted the ads for these slasher films they may have made a buck, but they went against their own values and exposed kids to violence they could have encountered on the streets. The Boys and Girls Club is mostly responsible for this, even if the producers offered the deal, but it is still no reason to make a bill against the free media.
The first amendment not only covers freedom of speech, but also freedom of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of self-expression. Not only does this bill go against freedom of speech, but it also contradicts freedom of the press. This country was built on freedom and it seems that Lieberman is baffled to its understanding. When a bill states that producers can no longer advertise in places where a substantial amount of children could be exposed, how does that not contradict the First Amendment?
Yet, the question still stands, if people join gangs to earn money to support their families, how could they have afforded those gaming systems to be inspired to do so. Money is the number one cause for a person to join a gang. They couldn't have afforded Grand Theft Auto let alone the system to play it on. The senators may not know this, but not everyone has a disposable income to buy games, maybe not even enough money to feed they're families at night.
Appeal after appeal, the senators and the IDSA (and a few minor groups) have fought the war for the first amendment. Neither side has even the slightest thought of backing down. The decision will come to the hands of the Supreme Court. When this inevitably happens I can only hope and pray that developers, movie producers, and musicians all join together so they can save the industry from the corruption the Senators have already caused.
Tell me what ya think
A penny saved is a penny earned!
I wish the Government thought like that!
Centennial High Student,