Guns don't kill people, picture tubes do. Or at least that seems to be the message behind the clangor of current alarms about television violence. Don't misunderstand: I have denounced movie violence for more than two decades, all the way back to The Wild Bunch and The Godfather. I consider Hollywood's slashes, splatters, chainsaws, and car crashes a disgrace, a degradation of culture, and a wound to the souls of producers and consumers alike.
Every age has its ways of despising art-which also are ways of taking it seriously, for you don't smash idols you don't fear. Art can be despised with thumbscrews, bonfires, or money. It can be smothered in Glad Wrap: feel-good art meant to lie about how happy the proletariat is, say, or how cute the world is. The rage against art-- from Plato to Mao Tse-tung-has been no respecter of geography or politics. And it has been no respecter of pro fessions: Artists can be good at it, too. Short of despising, there is dismissing-art can be condemned not only as deception but also as distraction from duty.
In the 1960s, radicals who liked to quote poetry favored Bertolt Brecht's "To Posterity," which includes these lines (as translated by H.R. Hays):