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There are those on the right, always eager to punch Hollywood in the nose, who suggest that showing violence onscreen somehow incentivizes people to engage in violent behavior – although studies are dubious on that score. Those on the left, meanwhile, are interested mainly in targeting movie violence so as to avoid scrutiny on film behavior that actually does cause behavior: sexuality. Hollywood has no problem decrying its own reliance on blood and gore. But when it comes to salacious material, Hollywood proclaims that it’s acting under the First Amendment. Hollywood’s fine with a culture of sex. They are concerned about a culture that sometimes advocates justified violence.
So what should be done about movie violence? Not much. Acts of real violence, for instance– snuff films– should not be made, let alone seen. There is a difference between extreme violence and normal film violence. But millions of people see a film, and should filmmakers be held to account for one crazed individual whose pathological trigger is pulled by this film? Should filmmakers worry about the fantasies of the craziest members of society before writing a script?
In short, Batman isn’t responsible for Colorado. One demented individual is.
Every time some isolated act of violence occurs, the media and the left look for a societal problem to blame. When JFK was shot, James Reston of The New York Times blamed the rhetoric of America’s conservatives, even though Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist (a “silly little communist,” in the words of Jackie O.). When Jared Loughner shot Gabby Giffords, Paul Krugman of The New York Times stepped into the echo chamber and blamed the tenor of America’s political debate for the attack. All of it is nonsense.
When Hollywood leaps to condemn itself, we should be deeply suspicious. And the case of James Holmes is no exception to that rule.
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