Clockwise from left:
David Liu, 16, France, has lived in Beijing for five years
Sangwook Park, 15, Korea, has lived in Beijing for eight years
Rebecca Leu, 16, Taiwan, has lived in Beijing for seven years
Teety So, 15, China, has lived in Beijing for 13 years
Do you think there’s excessive violence in movies?
Sangwook: It depends on [the genre]or [the film’s]rating. Some films are intended for a more mature audience. Older members of society may find violence more acceptable or entertaining; when younger people are exposed to violence [in]movies, it has a negative effect on them. I was introduced to violent films at an early age, maybe 9 or 10, and when I was really into violent films, I felt like I was getting more aggressive and becoming like the characters on screen.
Do you think it’s important to limit violence in movies?
Rebecca: Definitely. Even if it has a rating, [it]can be seen by anyone who can access it. We pick up social cues from everything we see; if the film promotes something particularly violent or grotesque, it’s not good for society. Ratings partly keep [the film]out of the reach of audiences [it was]not intended for, but there’s always a risk.
Do you think children who watch violent films become more violent?
David: In eighth grade, we did a project about violent video games and the conclusion was that there was no noticeable difference between children who watch violent films and [those who]don’t. At the same time, every kid is unique. Violent films can be an outlet for pent-up energy but they [can also]serve as inspiration for becoming aggressive. I used to be into spy films; there was always a super spy who’d go [on]an undercover mission and beat everyone up in the process. It [made me want]to be a spy myself. It definitely did stir up a little violent thinking – even if statistics say that that’s not the case.
Teety: Movies do have an impact. I have a friend who has BB guns at home and they want to be just like the characters in movies. I don’t watch violent movies, so they haven’t had any impact on me.
Should young children be allowed to watch violent movies?
Sangwook: It depends on the type and intensity of violence being portrayed, because many films [depict]violence as a positive thing in order to attract a bigger audience. Violence [is]never portrayed as a negative aspect of society, but instead rationalized as a regular part of us. Violence is shown as a way [of becoming]a hero, to be more powerful in society.
Do you think cartoon violence has the same effect on kids as realistic violence?
Rebecca: I saw an article about a boy from a village in China who was imitating a scene from the goat cartoon [Xi Yang Yang]. Two of his friends were severely injured because he bound them to a tree and lit up the grass underneath. I heard that the cartoon company is considering editing out violent scenes. Cartoons such as Tom and Jerry or Roadrunner are actually really violent; knives are involved in Tom and Jerry. But watching them when I was small, I wasn’t interested in copying them. I guess it’s debatable; perhaps realistic violence is worse.
Who should decide what movies kids should and shouldn’t watch?
David: I want to say parents, but kids [like me]would be annoyed if my parents stepped in and monitored every film. It’s an age thing. You can better decide what’s right to view and what’s not. At the same time, it’s hard to determine what that age is; some people would say 18, but arguably kids younger than that can decide for themselves and some older kids still have trouble.
With the advent of the Internet, are movie ratings less relevant?
Sangwook: In movie theaters in the past, if you wanted to watch a movie that was [rated above your age]there were people to stop you. Because there is no one regulating the Internet, you can freely download or stream movies. In reality, the rating system has disappeared. When a person is selecting a movie to watch, they don’t [consult]the rating; they just read the reviews.
Do you think the world was safer before TV, films and video games?
Rebecca: It’s hard to say because the generations before ours had the World Wars, and I hope we don’t have one in our [time]. On that level, that’s a type of violence we don’t have. But perhaps on a person-to-person level, [it’s] different.
Do you think countries with stricter ratings have less violent crime?
Sangwook: Even if there was no violence in any sort of media, violence would exist in our minds and souls. Perhaps [there would be less of it], but violence has always been a part of human society. Since day one, we have had hunters and tribal warfare. Humans always want more and some are willing to do anything to get more.
Should the depiction of violence be more responsible?
Rebecca: In the media, violence is sometimes portrayed as the only option, but in real life that’s not true. No one [pulls]out their gun to solve a problem.
Sangwook: I agree with Rebecca. Normally we don’t use violence in real life; we talk things out. It might not play well with the audience, but they could add [more scenes of people talking and cooperating]from time to time so that people can learn that violence is not the only viable option.
David: Granted, the protagonist uses violence – but it’s always to punish the antagonist’s violence. There are consequences for [the antagonist’s]actions. Though it’s still promoting violence as a tool to solve [problems], they do show the ramifications of violent acts.
Photo Courtesy of ISB
This article originally appeared on p48-49 of the beijingkids November 2013 issue.
Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com