News / USA

Shooting Renews Concern About Movie, Game Violence

Penelope Poulou
The shooting of 20 young children and seven adults has renewed discussions about gun control in the United States.

Many say the availability of guns, however, is not the only factor that could trigger a deadly act.

Though the industry disputes it, some experts say films glorifying violence and video games rewarding death can be equally lethal, especially in the hands of people with mental health issues.

When "The Dark Knight Rises" opened in July, the on-screen carnage served as the backdrop to a mass shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, theater. The shooter, James Holmes, 24, had dyed his hair red to resemble the Batman character, the Joker.

Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58.

Hollywood violence

Production of violent films continued after the massacre.

A look at how the U.S. ranks in comparison to the rest of world when it comes guns and gun violence.
The U.S. has the highest gun ownership rate in the world. 
1. United States  -  89
2. Yemen            -  55
3. Switzerland     -  46
4. Finland            - 45
5. Serbia             - 38
Despite the high number of guns, because of its large population, the U.S. does not have the worst firearms murder rate.
1.  Honduras     -  69
2.  El Salvador  -  40
3.  Jamaica      -   39
4   Venezuela   -  39
5.  Guatemala  -  35
The United States ranks 28th, with a rate of 3 per 100,000 people
*The U.S. is one of the leading countries in the number of deaths attributed to guns.
1.  Brazil              -  34,678
2.  Colombia         -  12,539
3.  Mexico            -  11,309
4.  Venezuela       -  11,115
5.  United States   -  9,146
Source: UNODC & Small arms survey of 2010 
The graphic drama, "Killing Them Softly," about a hired gun with feelings, was released in late November.

The Hollywood premiere this week of Quentin Tarantino’s bloody western, "Django Unchained," was canceled out of respect for those killed in Connecticut. However, the movie will be released.  

Criminal defense attorney Rene Sandler said on-screen gunfights can inspire real-life shootings.

“The perpetrator becomes a character, takes on the persona of an aggressive, violent individual or superhero," Sandler say, "and in Aurora, it’s a perfect example of just that.”

Video game carnage

But, even more than films, Sandlers thinks violent video games are at the core of brutal behavior, and believes they should be regulated.

“I have seen clients who have engaged in that interactive video experience where they are killing, where they are using guns, where they are gaining points and winning given the more bodies that they amass," she says. "In this country, we can ban sugary drinks for children because it’s unhealthy. We have done nothing to stop violent video games for children and adults.”

While on-screen violence itself is not dangerous, Sandler says it can be "weaponized" in the hands of people with mental issues.

Mental health issues

Law enforcement authorities in the Connecticut shooting have said very little about the 20-year-old shooter Adam Lanza's mental health. But the elementary school attack has raised the issue and many are calling on society to be more vigilant.

A game industry group calls any link between video games and violence a myth.

Following the movie theater massacre in July, a movie industry mogul suggested a summit on violence and film, which has not yet occurred.

Still, an Oscar-nominated movie last year, "We Need to Talk About Kevin," eerily mirrors the Newtown shooting. The upper-class Kevin, 16, goes goes on a killing spree at his high school after murdering his family. The movie raised compelling issues about teen mental health, family breakdown and violence in American society.

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Comment Sorting
by: James from: Nebraska
December 22, 2012 6:10 PM
Yes, and that commentary was started by the NRA "press release," also blaming film and the mentally ill (who are eleven times more likely to be the victims of violence than the average person).

Note too, the day of that press release, there was another mass shooting in Pennsylvania, four people killed (including the shooter) and three state troopers wounded, not in a school, not yet reported on VOA.

The NRA wishes to deflect any issue from itself, and the gun culture in the USA. In the meantime, like Australia, now Serbia is eliminating mass quantities of freely-available guns, with the same results.

In every western nation, this experiment has been run, with the same results. Little wonder other nations want to emulate our Wild West culture.

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