Movie violence = real violence?

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world? this is the DPChallenge: Mind the Gap.

What inspires? What inspires you? Is it self-actualization or is it the need for basic shelter, food, existence or someplace in between? So do you think…my life’s ambition was movie inspired?

Maybe a little. But when I wrote that last question, it made me laugh. Oh, there have been movies that showed places I wanted to go to, people I would have liked to meet, styles of clothing I’d like to copy, situations I might want strategies to get out of or into, but my life’s ambition? I look to movies that show me things I’m interested in or go along with another’s interests.

When planning an inspirational speech I’m supposed to know my audience and use a combination of emotion and logic, facts, figures, cost, benefit and appeal to get a willingness to act from the group. There should be a call to action and a strong emotional connection if the inspiration is actually going to work. I’d certainly use a movie clip if it was pertinent, use a story, try to use common rallying phrases to my advantage.  And the ones it works to get to act are usually already likely to act anyway, it is a ‘singing to the choir’ event.

Repeated messages, shaming, punishment – especially random and unavoidable, rewards not offered for beneficial actions, ignoring the good and over-reacting to minor offenses and then the aggrandizement of violence – these would shape aggressive or passive behaviors.  See the graphic and how rage and terror are opposite, but mirror each other? Disapproval, contempt, fear would make it easy to see others as spiteful and deserving of violence or too scary too overwhelming to attempt to do anything about as in learned helplessness.

There is also brain injury; chemical brain injury, physical brain injury and/or altered function of thoughts in our current industrialized world which could make clear thinking less possible.

Violence is a culmination of strong emotion – pain, fear and anger, poor thinking skills, and the results are often used by those in positions of advantage to get more advantage.

History tells us if big efforts by the whole country are to be made the the easiest way is to create a scapegoat, use a recent event that caused a generalized fear/anger of some sort of apocalypse, and use that to mobilize willingness to use over-the-top force, shut down freedoms and lay open the options for acceptance of ‘police state’ type actions and willingness to sacrifice anything and everything. In the frenzy standards of civilization and the rules of law are considered soft and sentimental and inadequate to meet the challenge.

Wisconsin is a progressive state, which has also had a fair share of men (women too) with popular, but bad ideas, historically think Sen. Joseph McCarthy, stating unsupported claims, using partial truths to create public support. The terror at that time was being overrun by Russia. McCarthy went after people/departments in government, but he also demonized with the ‘Red’ stain of communism, directors, actors and the entertainment industry, an industry that makes stories out of our current issues and shows what is happening from multiple points of view.

For individuals, if the tales are right, there usually is a history of real or imagined victimization, something bad that must be righted by extreme measures. A strong feeling that it will never be righted by the ‘powers that be’ and that the powers that be are part of the wrongs. And a promise of greatness, fame, family survival or after-death honor.

I don’t think it actually takes a huge tipping-point event, one thing doesn’t make it happen (like watching a bunch of movies or playing bloody video games) and there have been signs. And access to tools/weapons is vital to make violence, especially large violence.

I do think it takes a series or lifetime of events that are perceived in a pattern. Humans are really good at finding patterns, even when they are not there. Humans are really good at looking back at history and identifying a key event and making a story, a cause. However, as detectives often suggest, follow the money. Who will gain?

Who would gain if violent movies, books, shows are banned? Who would gain if specific art and culture and myths are scapegoated despite research that says otherwise? Who would gain if other more likely issues are not investigated, not identified as part of the problem and society is placated with banning certain sorts of entertainment? Who gains when instead of thinking, people just follow?

As I did this post and looked at others with similar topics I saw a Christian blog post that implored people to boycott violence for entertainment, boycott violent news and books. But wouldn’t that mean boycott history, the Bible, the story of crucifixion of Christ, fairy tales, eating meat, banning guns, stopping wars – stopping so many things that do violence or justify violence…it’s not just movies, music and shows that are violent, real life existence involves violence. So are we saying that entertainment violence is the worst kind? Or are we assuming it is so widespread that it must be causing us to act violently?There are a lot of other widespread things…

A study reported in Psychology Today indicated that 95% of the viewers/players of violent movies/games would see and do but not become violent in real life. That some who were already prone to violence might, but that this was not cause/effect.

I think it’s an  easy, mindless step to say to just stop watching or buying entertainment. What about shaming, punishing and jailing and blaming. What about social inequity that’s so large people can’t even imagine it? Seems more important to work to reduce real violence than it does to avoid portrayed violence or am I somehow confused?


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