'Terminator is my hero'

BBC Online News / Sci-Tech

February 20, 1998


Terminator, the sci-fi killer robot played by Arnold
Schwarzenegger in a series of hit films, is the most popular
media character among the world's children, a new survey
says.

The survey by the United Nations Educational Scientific and
Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said 88% of children around
the world knew of Terminator.

More than half the children brought up in violent
environments marked by war or crime wanted to be like the
robot.

Billed as the first ever worldwide study of violence in the
media, the survey said Terminator had become "a global
icon".

The character, though still remaining violent, turned good
in a sequel to the original movie and helped to save the
world.

The survey said television was the strongest single factor
creating a global culture and claimed that the omnipresence
of on-screen violence was contributing to making the world
more violent.

The report's author, Professor Jo Groebel of the Dutch
University of Utrecht, said media characters were being used
by children to escape their problems.

Around 93% of 5,000 12-year-olds surveyed had access to a
TV. On average, they watched for three hours each day.

Action heroes were most popular among boys while girls
looked more to pop stars and musicians as examples.

Asia had the highest ranking for action heroes - 34% - while
Africa had the lowest - 18% - with Europe and America coming
in the middle range with 25%.

Professor Groebel said the impact of media violence on
children was largely explained by the fact that aggressive
behaviour on the screen was at worst rewarded, at best
unpunished in most cases.

He said the use of violence as an attention-grabber for
children was as old as fairy tales, but it had now become
omnipresent in the media.

Federico Mayor, Director-General of UNESCO said the best way
to fight violence on television was for the public to speak
out against it.

"We are telling citizens: 'Exercise your role as citizens',"
he said.

He also criticised television for broadcasting sanitised
pictures of war, such as films of Gulf War air strikes,
which did not show the human suffering caused by bombs.

"We are hiding death. The horrible aspects of war should be
shown, like dying children. If this was being shown, viewers
would not be prepared to watch a war show," he said.

However, Professor Groebel said censorship would be
ineffective in curbing violent programmes.

Signalling violent films by logos on television screens
could be counter-productive as it could attract young
viewers.

He favoured public debate among parents, politicians,
teachers and producers, and developing training and codes of
conduct among media professionals.

Consumers also required educating to become more critical
media users.

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