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Who better to help the younger generations through the angst and frustration that comes with the burden of growing up than a comic book artist? In “Violent Media is Good for Kids”, Gerard Jones writes about the positive aspects exposing children to violent media. Opening the essay with his personal experience and the outlet it allowed him as he was growing up, he slowly transitions into discussing other children’s similarly positive encounters. Jones argues that in most instances, it is helpful and healthy for a child to be exposed to violent media.
The audience that Jones is trying to persuade seems to be very clear after initially reading the essay. Digging a little deeper, the essay was first published on the magazine Mother Jones’s website. In the “about” section on the Mother Jones website their mission is described as, “a strong voice for social justice: Racial discrimination, women’s rights, environmental justice, and the plight of immigrant farmworkers are all issues you will find covered in the magazine from its first year of publication to the present” (Hochschild, Mother Jones: The Magazine). Learning about what the purpose of this publication stands for, it becomes even more apparent which audience that Jones is speaking to. As a very left-wing publication, Jones seems to be trying to persuade new parents of the same political views that raising their children around some violent media is okay. Gerard Jones spends the essay supporting his argument to these parents with minimal use of logos but great use of pathos and ethos.
Gerard Jones opens his essay with the use of ethos, constructing his credibility by describing his childhood and how violent media positively helped him maneuver through his road to adulthood. Jones explains that as he was growing up, his parents taught him the same thing that many others are taught as children, that violence is not the correct way to handle conflict and that anger is a feeling to be left out of matters. Jones describes his childhood in the first paragraph, “My parents, not trusting the violent world of the late 1960s, built a wall between me and the crudest elements of American pop culture” (199). Although his parents made great attempts at stifling their child into a pacifist young adult, Jones discovered the wonderful world of Marvel and the Hulk. Identifying most with the Hulk, Jones imagined himself following his “fantasy self” which allowed him to do whatever he wanted, without a care of what disapproval may follow. Being an angry child that was able to channel his rage through comic books helps Jones solidify his position that violent media is not always as terrible as it is made out to be.
As an adult, Jones is not only a comic book writer, but also an advocate for exposing children to violent media. Working alongside Melanie Moore, a psychologist, the two of them study the way violent stories help children develop in a healthy way. Demonstrating logos, Jones quotes his colleague, Moore, “Fear, greed, power-hunger, rage: these are aspects of ourselves that we try not to experience in our lives but often want, even need, to experience vicariously through stories of others. Children need violent entertainment in order to explore the inescapable feelings that they’ve been taught to deny, and to reintegrate those feelings into a more whole, more complex, more resilient selfhood” (201). Adding a psychologist’s perspective, Jones is setting his point more firmly by bringing in an outside authority. Completing his method of relating his credibility to the reader, Jones turns the reader’s attention to facts from a person in the field of understanding the way the brain works and habits of human beings.
Delving deeper into his reasoning for being a credible source on the subject of children and violent media, Jones returns to the use of ethos to further establish not only his authority, but Moore’s. After discussing his history with the reader and establishing some scientific background, Jones gives some slight overview of the work that he does with the help of Moore. Jones states that he started a program called “Power Play” where he helps “young people improve their self-knowledge and sense of potency through heroic, combative storytelling” (201). Establishing that his is a topic he not only studies but is heavily involved in helps the reader believe that what he is saying is true. Jones is not only reading charts, answers from a survey, or however he and Moore conduct their research but is, instead, actively involving himself with children and including violent stories into their development. Giving the reader an understanding of how violence in media can help children, Jones is persuading the reader with examples of his work.
Transitioning from heavy use of ethos, Jones turns to pathos near the end of his piece. Once he got the reader to understand him as an author, Jones seems to have set about getting the reader to understand the reason behind his passion. Telling the tale of a young girl he worked with, Jones describes that although her home life is not an ideal situation, listening to rap as helped her find “a theater of the mind in which she could be powerful, ruthless, invulnerable” (202). Jones explains that she went to college and became a writer while avoiding the use of the drugs her peers were using (202). He seems to be trying to put the reader into the mind of a struggling adolescent to feel empathy for the children who are not blessed with a peaceful life at home. Reminding the reader, possibly, of times when life was confusing and messy assists Jones in giving the reader a second to consider that maybe things would have been easier had they had an outlet to give their rage over to. This placement of the reader into the shoes of an angry adolescent is vital in Jones’ argument.
Gerard Jones is a clear writer in thoughts and example, building a solid case in favor of letting children experience violent media. Jones makes great examples of real people to further his point because it gives the reader something solid to relate to. Additionally, his and Moore’s credentials gives the reader a writer that they can trust. There is a really strong building of trust between the reader and the writer throughout the entire piece with Jones spending most of his time establishing himself as a reliable source for the subject. At the end of this piece, it is hard to believe that most people will not be swayed into letting their children partake in an hour of Power Rangers.
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