Thursday, November 20, 2008

Horror Roundtable Discussion - The Impact Of Fictional Violence

Gather round, gather round!

A fellow blogger and friend of mine came up with this roundtable topic and while I initially dismissed it because i'm kinda sick of talking about it, I haven't been able to get it out of my head for the past couple days. It's a topic i've got a lot to say about and it's one I really haven't addressed too in depth on here yet, so let's get into it.

Does violence in works of fiction create violence in the real world?

I'm gonna quote Scream here as my opening statement...

"Don't you blame the movies. Movies don't create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!"

Isn't that the truth?

We as a society have a tendency to place the blame for every kind of wrongdoing on just about anyone but ourselves. It can't be bad parenting that makes a kid a criminal, right? It must be those horror movies the kid watched! Or it must be that music he listened to! Some people are just plain psychopaths, and that's really all there is to it. Whether they're born that way or whether they're bred that way, they ARE that way, and it's as simple as that. A normal average everyday kid isn't gonna pop in a horror movie one day and suddenly decide he wants to kill his parents because it looked so cool on the television. It just doesn't work that way. Referring back to that Scream quote, if the kid did already have that passion to kill his parents inside of him, then sure maybe he could draw inspiration from the movies he watches as to how to go about it. But how can you blame the movie for that! The kid was gonna go and do it anyway! Horror movies do not turn people into monsters.

Let's take a look at a few instances where various forms of violent entertainment were blamed for major crimes.

Comic Books Are Corrupting Our Youth!


In the 1940's, Dr. Fredric Wertham launched a full on attack on EC Comics, the publishers of the popular Tales From The Crypt comic books. He claimed that the comics were one of the leading causes of juvenile delinquency in America. Where did this idea come from? Wertham was a psychiatrist who worked with juvenile delinquents. He saw the kids he was working with read the comics, and that was all he needed. If those kids are reading Tales From The Crypt, then that must be why they're delinquents in the first place, right?! What Wertham didn't take into account was the millions of other children reading the comic books who were causing no harm to anyone. Not to mention those kids were delinquents long before they ever opened up the pages of a comic book. As a result of attacks and claims like these, public burnings of thousands of comic books took place all over the world and heavy comic censorship was put in place. Now that's some serious Nazi shit!

The Tarantino Murders!


On July 8th of this year, two Frenchmen were bound and stabbed repeatedly in the neck, head, and torso before their bodies were doused in fuel and set on fire. The British tabloids dubbed this case "The Tarantino Murders". What does this have to do with Tarantino, you ask? I'm really not sure but the only link that was established was that they were seemingly senseless acts of violence, much like the ones in Tarantino's films. To add fuel to the fire, no pun intended, a picture of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction was plastered amongst various news articles on the story. Excuse me? Did anyone get stabbed repeatedly and then get lit on fire in Pulp Fiction? I don't seem to recall such a scene. Yes, a cop does get doused in gasoline in Tarantino's first film, Reservoir Dogs, but I fail to see the connection. Senseless violence has been occuring since as long as man has been around and people have been set on fire for hundreds of years, long before Tarantino's father ever even decided to take his condom off. But I guess people just love to slap QT's name on whatever they can, right? Afterall, it sells.

Oldboy Promotes School Shootings!

Remember that horrific Virginia Tech school shooting a couple years back? Ya know who's to blame for that? No, no. It wasn't that crazy kid who pulled the trigger. It was Park Chan Wook's film Oldboy, of course! Why? Did a school get shot up in Oldboy? No, it did not. The film was blamed simply because, get this, a photo was found of the shooter, Cho Seung-Hui, holding up a hammer in a similar fashion to the way Oh Dae Su does in Oldboy. Ya, that's it.


Here's the official statement from Tartan Extreme, the films distributor, on the matter : "If you want to blame someone for the murders, blame bullies, bad parenting and poor results from the student administration. Cho says straight up in his video that he did it to scare other bullies across the country, so they would be scared straight when considering picking on someone like Cho. It sucks that in order to change something in this world tragedy is imminent."


These are just a few of the many works of fiction that have been targeted. Whether it be music, movies, comic books, or pro wrestling, they've all be blamed for some pretty terrible shit. While it's easy to see why fictional violence is the scapegoat for such atrocities, as it's a fairly easy target, placing the blame on movies rather than on the real people responsible is just about the most counterproductive thing you can do. How do we expect to ever lower crime in this world if we're not even targeting the real problems? But I guess that's not the aim here, right? Linking a crime to a popular movie sells a story. And that's really all that matters. By the way, if we're gonna blame movies, how about we also blame the news. You can see just as much violence and mayhem on the news as you can in the cinemas.

But let's assume the media is on point here and violent movies really do lead to violent people. Let's assume that movies are so powerful that they can completely make a person do a 360 degree change in personality. So wouldn't that mean we could just gather a bunch of convincted murderers in a theatre and show them wonderful and peaceful images for 2 hours? Wouldn't they then be cured of their want to murder? Sounds totally fuckin ridiculous, eh?

I've watched horror movies my whole life and i've never killed anyone. Case closed.

As usual, if anyone at all wants to get in on this discussion, make a post on your own blog or website about it. Link to me and i'll link to you. If you have no such outlet, let your thoughts be known in the comments section.


trixareforjen said...

whooooaaaa, IMPRESSED! Very intricate lil topics you have going on here lately. I Like. Lots of things open for discussion in this little horror haven you have created.

Sauceman said...

"Times have not become more violent. They have just become more televised."
Marilyn Manson

Anonymous said...

If I can't watch people bone for two hours I at least want to see them get mangled.

John said...

touche anonymous, touche