When we were young, our Mothers or Fathers would cover our eyes or ears to hide us from what they knew was wrong in a movie. Though over the years Mothers and Fathers have slowly let down their hands and exposed the younger generation to violence, sex, and mischief. So far this year, we have had multiple instances of intense violence and terrible crimes committed by a younger generation – with these cases in mind, does this mean that with such young exposure to violence and murder, that our generation is becoming influenced by media and cinema to the point where it becomes murder?
Violent scenes in movies aren’t just “watched” by people, in some cases they can be embedded. In the cases of Rudy Eugene and James Holmes, we can see the “red carpet influence” of their atrocities. The coverage by the mainstream media has helped perpetuate this notion as well by calling Rudy Eugene a “zombie” and a “flesh eating monster who craved brains.” Holmes actually refers to himself as the “Joker” and we see him as a crazed mad man set out on destroying people’s lives. It’s easy to forget that these two individuals are, indeed, people. The media portrays them as characters and that is where the disconnect from reality and the interjection of Hollywood comes into play.
Craig A. Anderson, of Iowa State University, conducted a study on Media Violence and Social Neuroscience in 2007, “Violent scenes can activate a network of brain regions (e.g., posterior cingulate cortex, hippocampi) involved in processing emotional stimuli, episodic memory retrieval, detecting threats in the environment, memory encoding, and motor programming.” States Anderson in the article, “This combination of activation in areas linking memory and emotion to motor activation suggests that viewing media violence could integrate existing aggression related thoughts and feelings, potentially facilitating aggressive behavior by increasing the strength or accessibility of aggressive behavior scripts in memory.”
Eugene and Holmes, to say in the least, did not seem to develop the idea themselves. It was created through subjected media that the two had exposed to themselves.
The movies we watch play a pivotal part in American culture. Sure, everyone loves the popcorn flick – Transformers, The Avengers, and so on – but the movies of our time are also social commentary, not a social script. They comment on our culture, our way of life, and how we are living. They are not meant to influence the actions of the movie goers. Although research is beginning to show that aggression can be triggered by viewing aggressive material, to what extent should we act on this? Is censorship or personal responsibility the answer?