In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre the debate between violent video games, horror movies and real life violence has reared its head again. Now, one week after a gunman violently killed twenty school children and six adults before turning the gun on himself, Americans have been rocked by another senseless shooting, with four people gunned down in rural Pennsylvania.
On October 26th 2011, I took to Truly Disturbing to write an article about Horror Movies and Real Life Violence in which I defended the horror genre stating that movies are simply an outlet. Nothing more, nothing less.
Today, it seems to be an instant reaction. Once something tragic happens, like a mass murder, people automatically claim that the person responsible for the killings was disturbed thanks to a violent video game or a love of horror movies and literature. By that same standard then just looking at my office would make me a serial killer in the making. I have books from horror authors like Stephen King and Clive Barker, but also books on real life crimes and even a book on the world's most evil serial killers. I have a horror movie collection that has spanned over three rooms of my house and my video game collection for the PS2 and Wii is pretty graphic. Does that mean I'm in danger of acting out what I play, read and watch? No.
Violence and entertainment have gone together for centuries. Don't believe me, then let's take a trip through history. Gladiators in Ancient Rome were slaves that fought to the death for the entertainment of Caesar. During the French Revolution, people were beheaded and the towns people were invited to see the spectacle. During the Salem Witch Trails, people were hanged in front of crowd. These acts of violence were considered entertainment during these times.
Were these acts of violence bought on by video games and horror movies? No. When King Henry VIII has his wives beheaded, was that because a movie inflicted the notion and idea into his head? No. When Ted Bundy began his killing spree, was it because of a violent video game or horror novel? No.
I am a firm believer that people who commit these most heinous acts of violence are already disturbed psychologically. They already have a hatred of mankind and have a sense of power when toting a weapon, regardless of what that weapon might be. To quote Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) from Scream, "Don't you blame the movies. Movies don't create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative."
The oldest emotion is fear. Fear is a powerful thing to have. The world's most evil people thrive on having others fear them. It's addictive. It's a power trip. But it all steams from rage.
Horror movies, horror novels and violent video games don't cause the rage that is responsible for some of the most disturbing acts of violence in history. That rage was already in existence. That rage festered until the person snapped. Who cares if they spent the last three months of their life playing Call Of Duty or watching Saw religiously. All that did was give them an outlet for their rage. But when that outlet began to fail was when they took it to the next level; committing the crime themselves and living on the fear of their real life victims.
So, where do you stand? Do you believe that entertainment such as video games, movies, books and even music are responsible for some of the darkest days in history, or do you feel that violent entertainment is just that - entertainment? Should movies, books, games and music be held accountable for the anger and rage that festers in one person until they snap? Are we too quick to blame the movies because we really fear the reasons behind the real life violence? Should entertainment be blamed for real life violence?