American Crime & School Shootings
Written by PTC | Published February 24, 2016
Rating: TV-14 L V
Airtime: 10:00 PM
Mass shootings have become such a common occurrence in the U.S. that major media organizations have begun reporting them with alarming frequency. It has been argued that as depictions of violence become more common in the media, so do the occurrences of excessively violent crimes. By changing the culture of violence that is glorified in the media we can hope to teach young children that violence is not the answer. Ultimately, the recent rise in mass shootings can’t be blamed on one thing alone, but one thing is for sure, every time a child sees a protagonist in a movie or television show use violence to solve a problem the child is left with that impression for better or worse. However, this doesn’t mean that every television show with depictions of violence is actually glorifying violence. One show that deals with the issues of violence in a modern setting is ABC’s American Crime.
Last week’s episode of ABC’s American Crime was a pivotal moment in both the series and the entire landscape of American television. In the 7th episode of the 2nd season, Taylor Blaine becomes frightened for his life after being attacked by a group of boys from his former high school. In an act of fear and desperation Taylor steals a handgun from a family friend and brings it to his former high school. Wes, one of the boys who attacked him, immediately begins accosting Taylor as soon as he sees him in front of the school. Wes begins fervently threatening Taylor’s life when suddenly the sound goes out and Wes stops shouting. The camera pans down to show Taylor aiming the gun at Wes’ torso and when Wes looks down he finds that he has been shot and a large blood stain begins spreading across his white T-shirt. This one scene changes the entire pace and direction of the season.
In the 1st episode of this season, Taylor was ridiculed by his peers for having gotten dangerously intoxicated at a party and especially after several photos of him in various stages of undress are sent around by his classmates. Eventually the high school administrators find out about the photos and they contact Taylor’s mother, Anne. After some prying Taylor’s mother is able to get Taylor to admit that at the party he was drugged and sexually assaulted by another student. This revelation prompts the audience to regard Taylor as a victim and his offender as the villain. But, there’s always more than one side to every story and in the eyes of the community Taylor changes from the victim to the aggressor.
This season constantly plays with the idea of masculinity and what it means to be a man in 2016. On American Crime it seems like every male character is either empowered or haunted by their personal perception of what it means to be a man. Even the bullies who attack Taylor are convinced that it is their obligation to abuse and harass Taylor for his perceived lack of masculinity. Boldness and boastfulness are common traits amongst teenage boys and for some this leads to violence. When bragging turns to brawling that’s when the situation has escalated too far and there’s more at stake than just a bruised ego. Taylor shooting Wes was a turning point in the series, and I suspect that in the remaining 3 episodes of the season, Taylor will be arrested he will quickly realize that committing an atrocious act of violence is never the right answer.
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This episode was rated TV-14 L V and it is not appropriate for young children. Despite the adult themes of the series there are actually very few occurrences of offensive content being depicted. Most of the sex and violence are implied and are rarely shown on screen. When violence does occur it’s very subtle and not very graphic, unlike so many other crime dramas on broadcast television. Offensive language occurs regularly especially with the teenage boy characters. There is constant use of the words “b*tch,” “f*g,” “(muted) ***hole,” and “(muted) f*ck.” Even though the overall theme of this series revolves around violent acts, this is not actually a show that glorifies violence. This is a show that depicts the terrible consequences that can happen when someone chooses to commit an act of violence.