American VP Joe Biden Says A “Violent Media Tax” Is Legally Possible

/ 3 years ago


Manhunt is among the most notoriously famous “violent” video games of our time. Yet at the core of the word “violent” is a normative judgement that has to be made. What is violent? What would constitute “violent media”? How would you determine acceptable violence? Or would any form of violence denote violent media?

These are just some of the questions we are faced with after the United States Vice President Joe Biden stated that the U.S Government can tax violent media, there is no legal reason why it couldn’t. A Violent Media Tax would most likely be used to discriminate strongly against video games, while TV shows, DVDs music (rap music would no doubt have a hard time escaping) and other forms of media would probably escape. Christian Conservative Americans, who make up a significant proportion of America political lobbying and power, have a particular hatred of “violent” video games and using this tax would be a great way to curb the consumption of them.

It is reported that funds raised by the tax would be used to help victims of gun related violence. Although, from my European perspective, making firearms illegal is surely a  better way to curb gun related violence than to tax video games. In addition, violence isn’t “just about guns”. Relentlessly bashing video game makers who make “violent games” is surely not going to solve anything. The root causes of violence often have very little to do with video games and more to do with socio-economic factors such as prevalence of poverty and quality of childhood parenting.

It also remains to be seen if this violent media tag will be selective. You can most definitely expect Grand Theft Auto V and Manhunt to be taxed for violent media, but America’s Army 3, Delta Force Black Hawk Down and even Battlefield 3 – probably not as these glorify American military interventions. This then comes back to my point at the beginning, who makes the judgement on what is violent media?

No violent media tax is yet present in the form of legislation but we can probably expect to see it emerge soon. Whether or not it has support in the U.S congress is something we will have to wait and see about.

What are your thoughts on this highly controversial topic? I also apologise in advance if you didn’t like any of my opinions, but they are exactly that – opinions, so please feel free to share yours too.


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  • I agree on parenting and the environment, blaming games has just been a scapegoat and always has been. Its irritating.

  • It’s difficult what say what constitutes a violent game. One could argue that Mario Bro’s is a violent game because Mario jumps up & down on little monsters and that games is targeted at kiddies but I digress. You can’t argue the fact that both GTA & Manhunt are both very violent games but they are age restricted & shouldn’t be sold to the purchaser without proof of age.
    It’s impossible to outlaw firearms so the next best thing is education for the masses of firearm owners but how do you do that?
    It sound like this ‘violent media tax’ is just another thinly disguised means to screw the taxpayer out of more money.
    Game and movie publishers and producers are not solely to blame for a violent society but poor parenting plays a major part.
    I’m afraid their is just no simple solution (most likely there is no solution at all) but levying a tax is plain dumb.