We had a brief break of a few years until early Friday morning when a psychopath gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58. Out of respect for the victims, I will not use his name in this article; by now, we all know who he is. He doesn’t need anyone else to supply his name, age or stats. He is a killer and doesn’t deserve recognition for this brutal, heartless act. (Below, names are given as the killers are all dead.)
According to ABC News, recent US shooting sprees include:
March 10, 2009: Michael McLendon, 28, killed 10 people — including his mother, four other relatives, and the wife and child of a local sheriff's deputy — across two rural Alabama counties. He then killed himself.
April 16, 2007: Seung-Hui Cho, 23, kills 32 people and himself on Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.
April 20, 1999: Students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, opened fire at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 others before killing themselves in the school's library.
Questions and more questions have arisen as to why this could happen again. The phrase “culture of violence” comes to mind when we think about what we are watching on television and in the movies.
Hollywood consistently churns out movies that are filled with very graphic and gory violence. While I'm not blaming them for what this sick killer did, let's face it: we live in a culture that embraces violence. How do we embrace it? By paying our hard earned money to see movies where people are shot with guns, mutilated, killed and blown up on a regular basis.
In a July 20th article in the Detroit Free Press by Los Angeles Times Film Critic Kenneth Turan, “Does violence in film lead to real-life violence?” He writes:
“For if millions of dollars are spent on ads of all sorts out of the belief that watching something on film or video can influence the choices you make and how you live your life, it simply stands to reason that having all this violence out there being watched is going to affect the people who watch it.” [Emphasis added.] Right on Kenneth.
Of course certain people are going to be affected by it. Personally, I prefer non-violent movies. Actually, I often get bored with the action packed shoot-em-up films. But that’s just me. I had no plans to see this latest Batman movie and now, I definitely won’t. I wonder if others will follow suit.
Turan also writes:
“Still, it is impossible to be surrounded by the 21st century's blood-soaked cinematic culture and not wonder what effect it's having on us. It is impossible to live in a world where so many ultra-violent films exist that they're broken down into genres -- slasher films, splatter films, torture porn -- and not feel queasy at the very least.”
It makes me feel creepy just reading what he’s wrote. But the average citizen doesn’t have any control over what the pickings are at the local movie theatre. We do, however, have control over our wallets and can make a conscious choice not to go see these movies, and prevent our young children from seeing them.
It’s almost like our children have been indoctrinated by Hollywood’s offerings. They grow up watching violence day after day on television and in the movies. Who can say what effect this might have on a young mind in the future?
In this case, the gunman was seeking attention – and attention is exactly what he got. He didn't want to die in a shootout; he was amply protected from being hurt. He knew once his act of violence had been reported, his name, life, background and story would be plastered all over the news and the Internet. He got what he wanted.
In the above shooting rampages, the killers ended their own lives. But for the family and friends of the victims, their nightmare will never be over, as is the case with this latest shooting.
It’s time to rethink what kind of movies we will pay to see, “hitting them where it hurts” as they say and perhaps changing the status quo of what is acceptable in film.