February 14, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST

Savage Pastimes

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Harold Schechter
publisher
St. Martin's Press
genre
Nonfiction

Who says today’s media are too violent? Not Queens College prof Harold Schechter, whose Savage Pastimes (St. Martin’s, $24.95) argues that modern entertainment is no more gory than it was in the past. Here’s some of his ammo.

· Thomas Edison’s 1895 short film The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots featured a violent beheading.

· Victorian-era murder ballads (sung and printed) contained lyrics like ”With a large flint stone she beat its head/When such cruelty she’d done/From the tender roof of the infant’s mouth/She cut away its tongue.”

· In Scribner‘s magazine in 1933, one critic urged parents to remove their radio’s power tube so kids wouldn’t be sullied by such shows as Little Orphan Annie and Buck Rogers.

· Disney’s popular 1954 TV movie Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier included dozens of shootings, stabbings, scalpings, impalings, clubbings, gorings, and strangulations.

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