thumbnail of People or puppets?; What kind of adventure stories do you like?
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Do you like comic books or are you a mystery story for that. Have you ever read the Old Testament. Are you looking for second hand violence sex and status. Are we people or property. The Syrian people or puppet is produced by the Union Theological Seminary of New York City in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters under a grant from the Education know television and radio center on today's program and titled What kind of adventure stories do you like. You will hear the views in the voices of novelist Geoffrey Wagner and Jimbo theologians Ralph and behold here these are the men who will analyze some of the concepts created by our modern math and compare them with our traditional religious values. Here is the commentator for people or puppets.
The president of the Union Theological Seminary Dr. Henry Pitney the news is the adventure story basic and essential as a kind of diversion escape or a vicarious experience. Are we overdoing the amounts of violence sex and sadism in our modern adventure stories. The titles of a few Hollywood entries in the 1957 adventure field may tell us something. With the dog. I would find an incredible shrinking. Don't argue. Three quarters of a billion comic books are printed and your readership exceeds movie attendance figures in his
study parade of pleasure. Jeffrey Wagner reports. It is estimated that Ninety eight percent of all boys and girls in the USA read comic books between the ages of 18 to 0. Eighty seven percent of all adolescent boys and 81 percent of all adolescent girls read them also. Yet 41 percent of all male adults from the ages of 18 to 30 are fans too. Comic books outsold life and the Reader's Digest at army camps during the last war by 10 to 1. A recent survey in a town in the Midwest reported that two thirds of comic book readers are adult. Matty a menace in a brilliant article on the subject a New Republic claims that and I quote. In one out of every four American homes comic books are virtually the only reading matter. The great majority of comic books are adventure story. The following examples were chosen because they are typical infantrymen
engaged in hand to hand combat happened there is no ammunition. Sorry but I am ready. I got you. You know respect. OK. It is death to the tiger. And show you can I can take your I got nothing out of it. One of the war comics are extremely popular. No American has ever killed him. They are not as popular as the crime and horror comics crime number 58 dedicated to the eradication of crime begins with a story in which eight men on the side of justice are killed as
against one killer who in any case dies accidentally by his own hand as do so many of these criminals. Walking into a target in this case. For pictures and succession covering almost an entire paid show coppers getting beaten up crime smashed number 30. One of the so-called cool crime cops carrying a cover of a girl being brutally gagged by a man her skirt around her thigh opens with two well tested women shocked in the first three pictures. A ballet dancer strangled her partner with the girl's own pigtails out of a total of 38 pictures of this event. The dancers understudy is suspected but she knocked out the detective with a dealer who say. After this convincing argument that the tech give get the right girl. Now you will die in the gas chamber. My poor innocent
boy who slapped his nine women employees is burned alive in his own sweat shop. The nine girls first putting him under a sewing machine in sticking up his lips in a sickening series of pictures accompanied by the text in private. What do you think of such stories. Do they build a climate of acceptance. What distinguishes the legitimate from the dangerous adventure story is in the Old Testament filled with viciousness and violence these are the questions our producer Philip asked of our guest authority. Dr. Irwin Campbell. Author of the family and community in Ireland the kind of bigger story and other studies in our politics. Dr. Campbell is now a professor of education at the
College of Columbia University. I do not view. The violence. And sadistic behavior. In. The contemporary mass media media as being examples of adventure. To me this represents the sordidness. It represents a deep basement of the human mind of the human individual. It represents a kind of attempt to sensationalize and thus to attract or to pander to the lowest kind of. Human emotions. Adventure is quite different. And adventure is within the context of the larger social definition which society has it seems
to me that the types. Of present patients to which you refer. Are much more evidences of individual variation of individual apology and as a consequence do not deserve the inclusion within the concept of adventure. Dr. Ro is an ordained congregation of in the grip of ecumenical studies and director of the program of the religious studies at the Union Theological Seminary. There is something to this theory that there is build up a climate of acceptance. I'm inclined to feel myself that that has an insulating character about it that is that children may be exposed to this so much
that they develop a sort of natural defense against it. On the other hand this may be just wishful thinking. I'm afraid I don't have any answer as to how we convince the producers of this material that the flood of it is a real disservice particularly to children. Short of censorship which we are generally inclined to be suspicious of. I don't know how one can stem this great tide of material. I just express a certain hope that it becomes a sort of cancellation of itself that so much of it tends to lessen the effect of any particular item.
Jeffrey Wagner a study on violence in our comic book already has been like Geoffrey Wagner is a graduate of Oxford and lecturer to look at your City College of New York and Columbia University. Is the author of the novel and the parade of pleasure and Wyndham Lewis the art of Vienna. That you have so much work. It's illustrated in the book of creative pleasure. You had to read a lot of these comic books. How did you feel after reading your laggy number of that today. Well many of them were very much the saneness to Gallup. And. I came to a conclusion which I I think I should have if I read it rewrote parade of pleasure today in the light of three or four years later I would make my emphasis a little bit more in this way that I think the really dangerous and unpleasant ones where the battle
comics which you've illustrated that is the the ones which came out during the Korean War battle Brady and so forth because there. You have a distortion with reality. Which is really quite dangerous and wrong. That is to say the crime does not pay comic at least in the US as he grows older and more mature. Your child can see that this isn't ready related to the physical world around him there aren't a mosque a man dashing in and out of every building and he can test the pictorial representation temptation with the extensional world. But you can't do that with these war comics the children haven't seen this kind of thing and perhaps they think that you do fight a war like this. There's no connected with it or you're just wrong to end and massacre your enemies and I think if I was rewriting British rock I would really put my finger on those as being much more dangerous and I believe they have been curbed Greece and. Dr Perel care or worked out of the Holy Trinity Church in New York City for
25 years. You have large Brown professor of homiletic at the Union Theological Seminary. There's no doubt. There's such violence inside of them in the movies in the comics on the TV screen nor most endless paperback. Does create a climate of acceptance. And both juvenile and adult delinquency witness do it. But it does seem to me that adventure stories have their place. I pick mine usually just enough to get what I'm pleased to call my mind out of it squirrel cage. Now you may call that escape. It is a trip to Miami as an escape and considerably more expensive. But all this so-called literature. Is certainly a phenomenon of attention and it's appalling allow aberration and or horror tales and bedlam as a philosophy.
In which work through it must be said usually kicks bite in the teeth. Is that pandering to the lowest of such instincts as the psychiatrist so willing to leave us if any. Blame it on the school churches pulp industry whatever you like but if the homes and schools and churches do not take up the crusade in downright earnest and soon. I think by the way they have made a good beginning. Then we're headed for more of the same. And I don't like to think of walk on the heels of it. Now the Old Testament. There's a lot of violence in there. Brothers fight brothers in. What is essentially the difference between this kind of violence that's in the Old Testament and some of the things that die listeners heard me early part of the program.
Well they have been called here the climate and framework in which that violence stands in the Old Testament is the climate really of. God's redemptive. Act. That is the Old Testament is the story of God's salvation. That's what it is primarily it's not primarily as a character. The greatest galaxy of roads in the world has ever seen. Moses was a murderer. David we're going Dogra go back a little bit. Certainly jack up with a cheat. No way why not a bit of it. And the violence that emerges is always over again. This redeeming the will of God which is fear in human life there is a profound realisation of this fact that
God is jealous not Korea's own glory but for your sake and my sake that we give not ourselves over to all kinds of idolatry the worship of false gods and the rest. This is jealousy. And it expresses itself in violent terms in the Old Testament. Now is not the violence you see that is the significant thing so much as it is man's understanding violent rock which God displays toward evil. Unfortunately the Old Testament many of its level doesn't stand with the New Testament stands and the prescription on the level of the Old Testament is destruction. Not so in the New Testament the New Testament has thrown an entirely different light on that situation so that one cannot act any
longer in the way in which man acted in the Old Testament as they thought they were obeying the will of God. Nor can one act as man acted it seems to me in the Inquisition thinking that they obeyed the will of God. That is something that stands over against it all and that is this Christ with His Word. What I am and the revelation of the will of God made through him conquers every last bit of it. I followed up doctors share his views with our social anthropologist Dr. Solon Campbell. What about the Bible that's full of a lot of activity. Is this an adventure story. Where many peoples of the world the bible is a sacred document in which. To utilize or rather to apply the term adventure is perhaps
to take away some of the quality of it. So spirituality. I don't think it's necessary however. To do this. If we do consider that many of the accounts which occur in the Bible. Are. Adventures of the highest order. The plight of the Jews from Egypt. It is an example. Of the kind of epic event in the history of a people. Which in its. Tail. Forms adventure of the highest order. Furthermore it falls within the general concept of what I have attempted to present here that true adventure gives expression to human values and human frailties the human courage and invests than the Bible could certainly be viewed as
containing many episodes which are counted within the realm of high or great adventure. Dr. Hislop I'm wondering if I asked you why. You did not like comic book stories assuming you didn't already average so-call adult westerns and which a hero is always a hero of the Mickey Spillane story in which not only assurance but it's just a ruthless sort of. Unrelated vengeance without any kind of questioning at all. Is this a major difference between the good and the bad adventure story. This anxiety or questioning within the individual what I do think the meaning of what I would think of as realistic and basic human values.
This is very important. And my dislike for much of the thing that you mention is as you suggest based on the fact that. These people are incomplete as human beings in the Mickey splain stories. I have read a couple of them. There seems to be no real human compassion. And no sense of responsibility for human life and in the comic books though I think they differ a great deal. There is this tendency also to lose the reality of human values. I think the. I'm not too inclined to make moral judgements concerning adventure stories or themes because I
think that. Any attempt to over emphasize moral values probably destroys the. The real effect of the story but I am inclined to feel that the right kind of adventure story should provide both a scape and some kind of representation of the values that are worthwhile in a person's own life. To put it in terms of an exact instance and again I go back to my interest in the Hornblower stories when he is compelled as he naturally is as a naval commander. To take the life of the enemy there's a real sense of contrition about it and the tragedy in which he is involved. And this doesn't destroy the
story. He goes ahead and and does with great effect what he has to do. But it doesn't leave you Harley free from the questions that we ought to raise about war even though war is adventurous and I think that this is an important element in the adventure tales. I find myself very much involved in these stories and if it comes to the point of my identifying myself as I think we tend to do with a central character. I just wonder what happens to my values if this character himself. Has really no concern about human rights. Final word among our guest authorities I turned to the man who has made an extensive study in this area novelist scholar Jeffrey Wagner in the spin lane
fiction such as I discussed fairly fully at the end of my book parade of pleasure. It's very evident that for the majority of those books the forces of law and ethical conduct can stand they're absolutely despised hamma is constantly making the remarks such as why give these fellows the decency of a trial. To hell with the democratic process of courts in order they know all they understand is a strong right. And the policemen are really cute. At a completely unoccupied set up as prevails and I think that when your escape slips over into that kind of. Evaluation then I feel so bad. Do you know of any such literature was popular use the word literary plane. In Germany. There is there anything that might show historically a relationship between this attitude and what actually happens to a society.
So I would think there's a very definite correlation Sigfried Krakauer his book from Caligari to Hitler shows precisely. That kind of. Tendency on the screen that is to have a sort of private justice rather than the police justice which is racially and of course on the national level represented by hit who comes forward as a private just as of on the individual level that's your that's your spilling my camera hero saying To hell with any rules. And I think that's of course very dangerous. What distinguishes the legitimate from the dangerous type of adventure a story that we've been talking about. The question that you lost in this to go on a more simple level by saying well what's the difference between the Mike Hammer story and any of Shakespeare's tragedies written between say 16 1 and 16 5 in which the the stage is just littered with corpses.
Nobody lives practically bloodbath to go on men have their eyes put out. Women are sadistic and so forth. Well I suppose the answer is that the intention behind these works is quite different and that over in a Shakespeare tragedy all the physical world may be completely disintegrated Nevertheless you're left uplifted there is a strong feeling of moral value behind the whole thing. You go out of the the. The theater uplifted although everybody else may die and called you die. Nevertheless their values live on what they've stood for lives on and in the case of the Comic Book Of course there are no values to live on the books. The story just ends when people die everybody dies a thing comes to an end. Read it in very large then. I course think this is very. True the written word which I think is one of my hobby horses I feel is
very. Much linked with morality because I think that literature is to some extent a repository of morality I mean it's a sort of a test of behavior almost And that's why I think it's very important for study not simply to get certain stories out of it but because in a whole systematic study of literature we get the relationships of man to his society what he should and should not do. Tragedies when there are certain conflicts between the two and so forth which ought to guide us. And I live. An hour of commentary on today's program. Here is the Roosevelt professor of systematic theology and the president of Union Theological Seminary Dr. Henry Pitney been doing. We start with the astounding fact. That almost everyone likes adventure and mystery tales of some grown not simply young people or simpletons. The addiction of some of the ablest and finest minds to detective fiction is
well known and apparently such reading performs a valuable function not merely a diversion but also a catharsis. Then we face the added bafflement of the prevalence of horror elements in the world's greatest literature. Notably the Bible and Shakespeare. We cannot test such literature by whether it has a moral outcome in much of the best of it. As in life virtue does not triumph. We cannot put the test of credibility. Often the more absurd it is the more enjoyable and refreshing the test of a literary wave is on a higher plane. But even that is hardly definitive. All tests appear to fail us. What then can we say to these things. The intention of a particular work is one criterion. If it deliberately and maliciously aims to
pander to the crass and cruel the sensual and vicious. It is going down. Again. The aid and moral majority of the reader has much to say as to its Probable Influence. We require no statistical proof. That the great bulk of comic books are doing our younger generation no good and something desperately needs to be done about them. This points to perhaps the one sure and significant conclusion. The only SECAM safeguard. Against the demoralizing effect of the portrayal of evil even in the Bible or Shakespeare is strong positive moral character. As with every other influence which may conceivably undermine like temptation and seduction of all crimes the ultimate bulwark as whatsoever is true
whatsoever is honorable. Whatsoever is just. Whatsoever is pure. Whatsoever is lovely. Whatsoever is gracious. Think on these things. That was Dr. Henry Patton even in the president of the Union Theological Seminary and the commentator Paul this series of people or puppets. Next week at this same time people or puppets will bring you an authoritative analysis and dramatic presentation on popular pain tragedy and suffering. You wind gauge in the pursuit of misery. I guess authorities discussing this topic will be psychoanalysts early LUMAS you and your apologist stolen them both but also begin to bark. The yellowed Facebook and duck of India as people or puppet is written. Moderated and directed by Philip Galbraith or the Union Theological Seminary in
New York City. Executive producer of the seminary professor John W. Buckley. Music by Alfred Brooks. Your announcer Dean Lyman Armed with this series is made possible by a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center for distribution by the National Association of educational broadcasters. Join us again next week for an exciting analysis of popular pain tragedy and suffering. Are you were engaged in the pursuit of misery. On People. This is the enery EBV Radio Network.
People or puppets?
What kind of adventure stories do you like?
Producing Organization
Union Theological Seminary (New York, N.Y.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-8k74zg6w).
Episode Description
What kind of adventure stories Do you like? Violence in the mass media.
Series Description
Discussions of values and ethics, modern versus traditional. Faculty from Union Theological Seminary, authors Kenneth Burke and Geoffrey Wagner, critics Edmund Fuller and Martin Dworkin, Dr. Solon Kimball and broadcaster Edward Stanley are featured.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Composer: Brooks, Alfred
Guest: Kimball, Solon Toothaker
Guest: Wagner, Geoffrey
Host: Van Dusen, Henry P. (Henry Pitney), 1897-1975
Moderator: Geismar, Maxwell David, 1909-
Producing Organization: Union Theological Seminary (New York, N.Y.)
Writer: Gelb, Philip
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-7-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:28
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “People or puppets?; What kind of adventure stories do you like?,” 1959-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 16, 2024,
MLA: “People or puppets?; What kind of adventure stories do you like?.” 1959-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 16, 2024. <>.
APA: People or puppets?; What kind of adventure stories do you like?. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from