Boycott the Darkness: Violence in America

UPDATE: In the wake of the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, CT, I did some research and found this article about Park Dietz, the forensic psychiatrist who interviewed and testified against Jeffrey Dahmer and many others, from a Johns Hopkins interview. Here are some thoughts that struck me and affirm my post below:

“Dietz takes the popular media and their effects on behavior seriously. He believes that slasher movies, violent television programs, and news reports–especially television news reports–contribute to American society’s problems with serial killers, sexual sadists, stalkers, and product tamperers…What has convinced him he’s right are the number of cases he’s worked on in which sexual murder, murder with torture, product tampering, carjacking, or workplace violence was inspired, instructed, or otherwise influenced by mass media…

He does not favor government regulation of film or television content, but he does favor litigation to force studios and other purveyors of mass media to regulate themselves: “I think the entertainment industry should be liable for the harm it does, like any other industry. Hollywood gains market share and doesn’t pay a penny in compensation for the harm it does.”

I also think the FCC needs to consider the news coverage of events like this, these are copycat killings for notoriety. I hope that President Obama was serious when he said we must come together and do something to stop this terrible violence and evil.

Original Post:

The cities of Aurora and Littleton (home of Columbine High School) are about an hour’s drive from my house here in Fort Collins, Colorado. Why two of the worst shooting sprees in the nation have happened right here in my beautiful home state is beyond my comprehension.  It has really made me sit back and think.  Here’s my view. Feel free to leave your thoughts at the end, that’s what a blog is all about.

This isn’t a critique on the Batman series, although it seems to me that something especially creepy is going on with that trilogy. The last Batman movie, The Dark Knight, was tainted by Heath Ledger’s tragic and untimely death. Afterwards, friends and co-workers said he submerged himself too deeply into the Joker role and they had been concerned about him. When Jack Nicholson, who played the Joker in the first Batman movie, heard about Heath’s death he said cryptically, “Well, I warned him.”  The current movie, The Dark Knight Rises, started with a brutal, murderous rampage that resulted in 12 deaths and 50+ people injured.

This tragedy should prompt us to look at the bigger picture. Especially in light of the fact that this is not a rare, one time occurrence. Our innocent children and young people are being murdered in public places at an alarming rate – in schools, universities, malls, theaters. We cannot deny that this is a trend in America and our little ones are taking the fire on the front lines.

Over the decades, excessive darkness and violence have crept into our society as a whole, especially in the entertainment industry. Not just the movies. Remember when video games first came out?  If you are too young to remember, they consisted of the simple Pac Man and Mario Brothers. But video games have morphed to the point that our kids are now walking through virtual hallways with AK47’s, shooting people by the dozens and watching blood spurt all over the screen. And we wonder what’s going on?

A friend of mine pointed out that boxing has become more and more brutal, with men now beating each other with their bare knuckles and not stopping until their opponent is a bloody pulp. I shiver with worry that one day someone might be killed and instead of reacting with grief, the audience will go wild with the taste of blood.

I am concerned that if we continue down this road of violence it’s only a matter of time until America becomes like the Roman Empire and we will watch REAL people die violent deaths for fun. Let’s not kid ourselves…it happened in the Roman Colosseums and it can happen again, if we let it.

I refused to see the old Batman movie and will never see this new one. But again, it’s not just the Batman series, it’s all the violence that is sucking us in like a dark addiction. When good people do nothing evil flourishes…we are the good people, we need to do SOMETHING, don’t we?  Let’s boycott the darkness…



2 responses

  1. Like you, I have no interest in these movies, or any that glorify violence and death. And I’m relieved that my son has apparently grown tired of the video games that have him climbing through rubble to find more opponents to annihilate. But I still believe that healthy, well-adjusted people can experience these things without becoming deranged, just as readers of Macbeth can read or watch that play without turning into murderers.

    I’m hoping that society as a whole will eventually become bored with the graphic depiction of evil and hatred. Meanwhile, though, if enough people enjoy such entertainment, the only way to stop it is through censorship. That possibility seems just as scary to me.

    Colorado is still a beautiful state, and I’m sure the vast majority of its citizens are as sickened by recent events as anyone else. A few warped individuals don’t reflect the bigger picture.

    • I appreciate your taking the time to comment, you received a lot of feedback on your post 🙂

      But instead of people getting bored with violence, I think they become hard and callous to it. The violence in entertainment is only escalating. It’s like a drug; once you build up a tolerance, you can handle more. Other examples of escalation are our children beating each other senseless on playgrounds and then posting the videos on YouTube so everyone can enjoy them. And there are repeated stories of young people plotting and committing the murders of their friends, acquaintances, and even their parents.

      It doesn’t seem to me that ALL these kids are psychotic or mentally ill. There are too many, where did all these crazy kids come from all of a sudden? You always write, tenderly and movingly I might add, about your childhood. Can you even begin to imagine these horrific acts being committed in the 1950’s, 60’s or even the 70’s, not by adults, but teenagers? I can’t. Maybe I missed those news stories, but I don’t think so…

      I’m not suggesting that we ask the government to censor anything. I am encouraging self control and to carefully monitor what our children watch. Capitalism is great in one way – if they don’t make money, the product won’t last long!

      My hope is that shocking events like this will shake us awake and make us take a long hard look at our lives.

      Thanks again for your comment 🙂

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