Books

The More Things Change...

Violence in the past -- A new book argues that the gore in entertainment hasn't changed in years

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.

Originally posted Feb 14, 2005 Published in issue #807 Feb 18, 2005 Order article reprints