Critics of violent movies play the blame gameBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First, the good news: The midnight screening alone of “The Dark Knight Rises” pulled in a whopping $30 million on its opening weekend—sure sign of a record-breaking regular run coming up. Then, the tragic follow-up report: During one of those midnight screenings, a lone gunman turned a movie house in Aurora, Colorado in the United States into a chamber of horror and carnage, injuring scores of moviegoers and killing 12.
It was as if it wasn’t just the Dark Knight who rose in that theater on that horrible midnight, but pure evil itself.
Right after the carnage, anguished questions were raised about who the “madman” was, what drove him to vent his fury on total strangers and where else the “blame” could be placed.
Quite expectedly, immediate targets included the ease with which “killer” armaments and ammunition can be purchased in the United States—and the billion-dollar film industry that produced the movie that the victims of this one-man execution squad were watching.
“Why us?” all American film people cried out in startled protest. “Why not?” the knee jerk reaction “blamers” shot back. “Don’t violent films seduce viewers into acting violently themselves?”
“But it’s only a movie—it’s all make-believe!” “Tell that to the mass murderer, whose fatal actions appear to have been patterned after another new film that similarly showed a scene of utter carnage set in a movie theater!”
And so the heated discussion goes, and the nasty accusations fly.
The deadly toll that one mad and exceedingly well-armed killer’s deadly actions took was so high that US society won’t be appeased until not just the mass murderer but also other culpable provocateurs, instigators and motivators are made to “pay” for their real or supposed complicity in the bloody carnage, in one form or another.
On the arms and ammunition issue, stricter gun controls may be legislated—if the huge and powerful “freedom to bear arms” lobby can finally be made to capitulate.
As for the “complicit” movie industry, “freedom of self-expression” advocates can be expected to cry foul— before they cry “Ouch!” or “Uncle!”
They share the nation’s outrage and anguish, but they still carefully point out that only one man was “seduced” by violent movies to act so viciously. So why punish an entire industry?
Ironically, “The Dark Knight Rises” is about a mysterious hero who risked or even gave up his life to save the city he loved. And yet, his inspirational story was transformed in the mass killer’s fetid and craven mind into a trigger for him to launch his demented campaign of absolute evil!
Now, it’s time for the society he shocked and wounded so deeply to question the very roots and core of its entire value system, to rise above its own instant impulse and react not in anger and madness.
Instead, let’s try to learn real lessons that can change the situation for the better—and us along with it. Failing that, the true-to-life super villain’s many victims shall have died in vain.
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