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Amid a sea of media conflict, good grounding starts with family

“What you do and how you act is your child’s memory for life.”

Bronx-born and-bred Chazz Palminteri has acted in TV, film and onstage, including roles in “Analyze This” and “Rizzoli & Isles”; he’s an Oscar nominee for “Bullets Over Broadway.” His play “A Bronx Tale” also became a film directed by and starring Robert De Niro, with Palminteri also starring.

I grew up seeing violence. When I was 9 years old, one man killed another man right in front of me. My father immediately took me in the house and took care of me. I thought I was fine; it was not like I had nightmares about it. But it stayed with me, and that’s what I wrote “A Bronx Tale” about.

My parents were very peaceful and loving. But when I was growing up, I saw a lot of violence, and domestic violence. Not from them, but from others. And it’s a sad thing. Domestic violence breeds more violence. Children who are beaten usually end up beating their own children. We need to be better examples to our children. What you do and how you act is your child’s memory for life.

I’ve been working on a new play, called “Human,” and all of the stuff in the news has affected me, children killing other children. I went to Sandy Hook. I thought, “I can’t just look at this on the news” so I drove there. It was devastating, the memorials, the people… to see reminders that this boy kill these young babies. There are no words. Hideous, horrendous. He was crazy, he was mentally gone — and he had access to guns in the house. If you want to be a gun person, OK, that’s fine, but be a responsible gun person. Lock up those guns!

I also worry about the dumbing down of America, the dumbing down of people. You watch these (confrontational tabloid-talkshows) and the audience can’t wait until the people start fighting and when they start swinging fists, the audience starts cheering. You can see it on all those shows and I’ve seen it in real life: A mob takes on one personality. It’s scary.

The thing that also bothers me is this celebrity-ism, the fact that anyone can be a celebrity at any moment, that TV audiences can see everything you do. And the dumber you are, and the more of a train wreck you are, the better your chance of getting on TV. Young kids are watching these shows.

And there are animated shows that are wonderful and smart for adults, but the problem is that young kids are watching, and listening to the awful things the characters are saying.

And all of these shows are hits, so there are copycats and before you know it, we have all these mean shows on TV and they’re deteriorating society.

I am a writer and artist. And as much as I hate those shows, I will defend those shows. I won’t censor art, I won’t. If people want to say those things, I don’t like it but I don’t want the government to get involved. As they say, democracy’s not the ideal system, but it’s the best we’ve got.

In the film “A Bronx Tale,” I wrote this line: “The choices you make will shape your life forever”

We all need to take responsibility for our own lives.

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