Concerning violence in real life and on screen: a brief discussion

Why are you pointing fingers at my beloved movies and anime? Stop it!

In the light of recent ‘Dark Knight’ shooting in the United States, I want to share my thoughts on the subject of violence on screen. Do note that my opinion comes from my personal context which may or may not be similar to yours and I will discuss this topic in general rather than based specifically on the recent event. My view can be interpreted as an outsider’s perspective since you all know I live in Asia (and we use swords and poisoned darts more than guns).

Man, movies and violence

Movies, anime, music or books do not turn people into the dark side. It’s not that simple. A man’s action is the cumulative effect of many factors both intrinsic and extrinsic. But on the contrary, movies, anime, music and other similar media draw inspiration from what happen in real life. And in real life, there are many people in the dark side. Just in case you are arguing that there are also fantasy stories that cannot be real, don’t forget that they are ultimately human story regardless of the fantastic setting. So no matter how otherworldly the stories look, they are the stories of human and human are real.

Is it fair to blame it on movies and related media?

I don’t think it’s fair. Entertainment media has always been popular target when bad things happened because we have seen those kinds of things in the media before. But like I said above, I think media function like a mirror. It’s not fair to blame the mirror when we just don’t like our reflections in it. What happens in movies, books or anime have happened before in real life in one form or another.

Nevertheless, I am not entirely comfortable with what I see on screen these days. Everything has bright side and dark side and all range of colors in between. It’s not good to show only one side and shun the other. Nowadays most of the things shown on screen are the worst side of people. I have heard many talked about getting desensitized by onscreen violence, that someone with potentials to commit crimes could be pushed over the edge by what he saw. That may or may not be true but even if it’s the case, blaming the entertainment media still seems to too easy and irresponsible. Obviously this is a complex problem that needs to be systematically attended to. With that said, I am no expert in these things and I cannot offer any practical, effective way to solve this problem.

But if you need to do something quick and easy anyway like putting something under tight control (however shallow that may seem), control the guns not movies.

On a somewhat unrelated note: The Dark Knight Rises was a very good movie. Go see it if you can, especially on Imax.

8 responses to “Concerning violence in real life and on screen: a brief discussion

  1. You’re completely right. Correlation does not imply causation. Media is becoming more violent because our society is becoming more exposed to violence. The world might not actually have more war or murder, but cable television has introduced us to a place outside of our small communities. Instead of censoring violent movies, we need to find out why these forms of entertainment are so popular to begin with.

    I will admit that I find death to be too casual of an event in movies now a days, not to mention video games. We tend to forget that those people being killed have families and friends because they’re portrayed as a faceless evil, not human beings (Ex. Stormtroopers). Killing another human being has huge, often unforeseen, consequences, and people seem to forget that all too often.

    • Thank you for your comment.
      The best way to turn things around is to revise the whole system, not just gun controls or media control. But that is nearly impossible to achieve especially if you want quick results.

      On second thought, maybe all the media (which becomes more abundant everyday) simply create illusion of increased violence. Maybe the world has always suffer the same amount of violence but the media let us know about it more quickly and we think that the violence increases…

  2. I agree that media is a mirror. However, at the same time it also reinforces the behavior in people it is already present within. It is a closed loop that can be hard to break.

    I find it telling in American media that showing murders and violence is okay, but even tastefully showing people procreating isn’t. Death is too casual an event in movies and in video games.

    However, sometimes violence can lead a person to feel more compassionate. It just depends on who is watching and how the violence is handled.

    • It’s almost like a vicious cycle of violence. The most difficult part in this is that we cannot clearly prove to connection between what people saw and what people do. It’s only speculation and the most obvious target is always blamed.

      With that said, having too much casual violence on screen is not to be encouraged. Thanks for the comment :)

  3. Pingback: Violence in the media and anime — 毎日アニメ夢

  4. That all depends on how the child is raised and what kind of environment he/she’s been exposed to most of their youth. The movies they’re exposed to aren’t exactly what influences them. If they are, the parents are idiots. Yes, I blame them for not teaching their kids about reality and fiction. Not all kids have common sense to differentiate R and F from each other on their own.

    While I agree it’s wrong to blame some of our favorite movies that so happen to be really violent, shunning it away as not being a “homicide juice” isn’t a good idea. I say label it as a VERY minor ingredient to a madman’s killing spree. The Colorado moron for example. DK gave him ideas but that’s all. He’s already an emo bastard long before that.

    • I agree. Violence is the result of countless collective factors. Media undoubtedly is one of the factors as part of environment and exposure though I don’t think it’s a big one.

  5. Pingback: Thoughts on Violence in Anime and Video Games | Chikorita157's Anime Blog

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