Should we consider personal accountability of vital importance? It’s certainly a subject that deserves more of our attention these days. With the speed and availability of information, who is responsible for the veracity of the content – the initiator or the people who forward it on, without verifying its accuracy? When others act, sometimes violently, on inaccurate information, who is accountable for the damage done?
To further clarify, a couple of examples: If a kidnapper imitates something seen in a movie, are the moviemakers responsible for the kidnapper’s actions? For a lot of people, that answer is “no.” If a murderer claims inspiration from something seen during a TV show, is the TV show responsible? It’s a question that is being presented to juries these days. (If you are interested, check out “Twinkie Defense” as an historical example, on the internet. It’s the epitome of “not me!” lack of accountability.)
Should our entertainment media aim for high-quality productions that improve character and inspire us to live better lives? A lot of people would say “yes.” The media, in all its forms, has tremendous influence on society. One way to ensure the media acknowledges its responsibility is to “vote with your feet” so to speak. In other words, refrain from buying products sponsoring shows that conflict with your moral values, and write to the sponsors telling them how you feel. Recent events have proven that this is an effective way to be heard.
The same goes for movies. Don’t plunk your money down at the box office or streaming service if you’re concerned about the movie’s message. And let’s not be confused about personal accountability, either. Except possibly in the case of a genuine and serious mental illness, each of us is responsible for our own actions, no matter what the circumstances. We make our own decisions, and are accountable for the consequences of those decisions.
It does no one any good to blame a TV show, a movie, the media, the so-called “system,” or society in general for individual acts of violence or immorality. Personal accountability is the cornerstone of a healthy society just as it is an essential part of a healthy individual.