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Showtime’s Dexter Purely Entertainment?

Is Showtime’s Dexter Purely Entertainment? Indiana teen Andrew Conley allegedly strangled his 10 year old brother to death, and then blamed his insatiable rage on the television show, Dexter.  Conley pleaded guilty on Monday, to killing his younger brother in November 2009. He told officials that he related to Dexter, a fictional blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department who also moonlights as a vigilante serial killer out to stop other killers from killing again.

Prior to this tragedy, Dexter already faced heat from the Parents Television Council for being too violent. Sadly this is not the first murder that is linked to the television show. In 2008, Canadian filmmaker Mark Twitchell faced charges for committing a murder based on the show’s storyline. This has some wondering what kind of influence violent television has over today’s teens. According to the Parents Television Council, 54% of kids have a TV in their room and 44% say that they watch different programs while alone than they do with their parents. They also state that the average kid watches 4 hours of television each day, making it an integral part of their daily routine.

Conley confessed that on the morning of his brother’s murder, he fantasized about what it might be like to kill his sleeping father, and that he had been having such fantasies since the 8th grade.  Clearly, his disturbances significantly pre-dated Dexter. MIT professor and American media scholar Henry Jenkins, addresses the preconception that violent media leads to violent youth in saying that, “It has led adult authorities to be more suspicious and hostile to many kids who already feel cut off from the system. It also misdirects energy away from eliminating the actual causes of youth violence and allows problems to continue to fester”.

Could this gruesome crime have been avoided if additional restrictions were put on violence in the media, or was such a tragedy inevitable given Conley’s appetite for violent crime?

To find out more about the Conley case, click here.

For more information about the Parents Television Council, click here.

To read more about Professor Jenkins’ ideas regarding the link between violence in the media and youth, click here.

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