It’s worth pondering for a moment just how difficult it is to survive on $2 per day. That’s a single gallon of gasoline. Or half a gallon of milk. If you took a D.C. bus this morning, you have 25 cents left for dinner. Among this group in extreme poverty, some get a boost from housing subsidies. Many collect food stamps — an essential part of survival. But so complete is their destitution, they have little means to climb out. (The book described one woman who scored a job interview, couldn’t afford transportation, walked 20 blocks to get there, and showed up looking haggard and drenched in sweat. She didn’t get hired.)
Edin is a professor specializing in poverty at Johns Hopkins University. Shaefer is an associate professor of social work and public policy at the University of Michigan. In several years of research that led to this book, they set up field offices both urban and rural — in Chicago, in Cleveland, in Johnson City, Tenn., in the Mississippi Delta — and tried to document this jarring form of American poverty.
My point is that these stories are picked from a certain angle, an angle of traditionally male heroism, and even when that is not the case most of us are lulled into believing that a handful of women in a large list of participants is a mixed gender setting in a movie or television series. Just think of the Noah’s Ark (which also consisted of all white characters). Probably a fifty-fifty distribution of men and women in some movie reads as a chick flick to many viewers.
One reason for all this is that we tend to see women portray womanhood in their roles, not play roles of individuals who have different temperaments, characters and so on. That’s why having a handful of women in a movie looks like inclusion, even if they all play the role “women,” because that role might be subconsciously compared to the number of dentists or gamblers or whatever in the same movie, never mind that most of the rest of that list are played by men.
Video games were responsible for a glut in the suburban lemonade market in the early 1980’s (Via retrogamingtimes.com)
In a truly tragic story, an eight year-old boy in Louisiana shot and killed an elderly woman, identified as his 87 year-old “caregiver.” According to CNN, the boy shot the woman in the back of the head shortly after playing Grand Theft Auto IV. You might be tempted to think “How did an eight year-old kid get a loaded gun?” is the most important question, but you’d be wrong. CNN notes that the gun belonged to the woman, but that’s about all it says about the gun. The article is all about how the video game might have driven the boy to murder, because the truly important question is what sort of media influence might inspire a young child to kill his caregiver (except don’t say anything about the gun itself).
While the motive is unclear, the sheriff’s department implied the child’s activities in a violent virtual world may have led to the killing.
“Although a motive for the shooting is unknown at this time investigators have learned that the juvenile suspect was playing a video game on the Play Station III ‘Grand Theft Auto IV,’ a realistic game that has been associated with encouraging violence and awards points to players for killing people, just minutes before the homicide occurred.”
Did you notice the part of the story CNN left out? The part where the kid picked up a loaded gun.
The article goes on to provide denials from the video game industry, but lets the other side have the last several words. Continue reading →