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Violent Movies, Violent Minds?

Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world?

Really, the question boils down to how susceptible people are to cultural factors.

I’m a big fan of horror. Stephen King is my homeboy. I, like most people, am exposed to violent images on a daily basis. I watch Criminal Minds, I play Grand Theft Auto, I get my Pokémon to beat up other Pokémon. Strangely, I’ve never killed anyone.

Certainly, a person is influenced by their culture. Popular culture influences what we wear, listen to and read about in trashy magazines. And certainly, we attempt to duplicate it on some level. That’s how culture works. If Jennifer Lawrence is swanning about in platform sneakers and a velour tracksuit, and you want to be cool, then by gosh you better go out and rustle up some platform sneakers and a velour tracksuit. (Please don’t do this! Fashion begs you!) But this doesn’t cause much harm (except to fashion!).

So can the media influence us to do things we wouldn’t usually? Like hurt somebody else? Let’s have a personal example. I was watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation recently. I would advise you not to do so. It was terrible. Afterwards I wanted to erase the experience from my memory. what I didn’t do was pull out my chainsaw and go to town on my neighbours. For violence in movies to inspire violence in yourself, I think you need to be predisposed towards violence. I doubt it encourages us to re-enact violence. But I think it may desensitise us to violence. If violence saturates the media then it becomes just another everyday occurrence and, to an extent, normalised. I think that perhaps violence in the media influences our reaction to violence: over-exposure leads us to view violent acts as less shocking than they really are. But I don’t think it causes us to be violent. To say so would be to believe humans have no agency of their own.

To put the blame solely on violent movies or video games neglects the influence other social factors have on us, such as family, friends, education and religion. If violent media does influence violent tendencies, then it is simply one part of a bigger problem; indicative of a society that tolerates violence.

Well that’s what I think. This post was inspired by a Daily Post challenge. If you want, read what others are saying, or add your own thoughts in a comment or blog post of your own. But why do that when you can just read what I think?! A hardy-ha-ha. ‘Til next time!

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