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…