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Tue Feb 12, 2013, 03:09 AM

NYT/Nocera says gun advocates have a point regarding violent movies

I responded with two comments that were posted to the site, which appear below the excerpt

The ‘Die Hard’ Quandary
By JOE NOCERA
Published: February 11, 2013


< . . . . >

What got me thinking about “Die Hard” — and guns in the movies more generally — is, of course, the furious gun debate since the killings in Newtown, Conn. On one side are those who believe we can cut down on gun violence by, among other things, banning the assault weapons that always seem to be used in mass shootings.

On the other side are the Second Amendment absolutists, who argue that the real problem is the culture, soaked in so much violent imagery that it is virtually impossible to avoid. They add that a ban on assault weapons would be the beginning of a slippery slope that would ultimately lead to a ban on weapons of every kind.

It’s not that I don’t want to see a ban on assault weapons. I sincerely do. But after poking around the world of gun-crazed movies and other media, I have to say, the Second Amendment absolutists have a point. For instance, when you ask a spokesman for the M.P.A.A. about the real-world effect of gun imagery in the movies, he actually pushes back by claiming that “there is a predominance of findings that show there is no consistent or convincing evidence that exposure causes people to be more violent.”

This is, quite simply, untrue. “There is tons of research on this,” says Joanne Cantor, professor emerita of communications at the University of Wisconsin, and an expert on the effect of violent movies and video games. “Watching violence makes kids feel they can use violence to solve a problem. It brings increased feelings of hostility. It increases desensitization.” Every parent understands this instinctively, of course, but those instincts are backed by decades of solid research.

< . . . . >


Read full article.

Here is the first comment I left in response:

Mark Kessinger New York, NY

Other countries have violent movies and video games, too, but don't have the problem of gun violence. Perhaps we need more research, more hard data, to establish what, if any, link there might be between playing violent video games or watching violent movies and a tendency to resort to the use of firearms to solve a problem.

As for the "tons of research" that the article suggests exists establishing a link between violent movies and a tendency towards believing violence is a real option in solving problems, how about pointing us to some specific studies, so we can evaluate the methodology, and make a determination as to whether such studies do indeed support such a claim. Off the top of my head, several questions immediately come to mind about these alleged studies: (1) how is "violence" defined; (2) are such studies merely correlative, or have their data sets been subject to far more rigorous statistical analysis that would help eliminate the possibility of some third factor the study has not considered; and (3) can the studies explain why such films and video games seem to have such a significantly larger impact upon Americans than upon other Western cultures.

Until such questions are answered, using specifically cited studies the methodology of which is available for scrutiny, this discussion is little more than a distraction designed to steer the public away from taking meaningful and needed action in the area of stronger regulation of gun sales and purchases.


And here is my second comment:

Violent movies and video games are not unique to American culture, yet American culture has a unique problem with gun violence. In trying to determine the root of that problem, does it not make infinitely more sense, is it not a far better use of resources, to focus our scrutiny on those aspects of our culture that are unique -- such as our lax gun laws and the availability of weapons designed to kill large numbers of people quickly -- rather than those that are not unique to us?

12 replies, 1075 views

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Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
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Arrow 12 replies Author Time Post
Reply NYT/Nocera says gun advocates have a point regarding violent movies (Original post)
markpkessinger Feb 2013 OP
geomon666 Feb 2013 #1
NewJeffCT Feb 2013 #2
John2 Feb 2013 #3
union_maid Feb 2013 #4
markpkessinger Feb 2013 #10
Warren Stupidity Feb 2013 #5
xoom Feb 2013 #6
el_bryanto Feb 2013 #7
Warren Stupidity Feb 2013 #12
alcibiades_mystery Feb 2013 #8
markpkessinger Feb 2013 #9
Bandit Feb 2013 #11

Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 03:44 AM

1. “There is tons of research on this”

A professor of communications said this? Anyway, as an avid gamer myself I welcome any research done on the effects of gaming and movies. The more the merrier. The President is right, we shouldn't live in ignorance. Now if only gun enthusiasts would take that idea and run with it but they don't.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 06:06 AM

2. great comments

thanks for adding them into the mix

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 06:41 AM

3. I was reading some articles

 

yesterday about famous American outlaws and became interested in why people glorified these outlaws in films. The two specific outlaws I'm referring to were Jessie James and Billy the Kid. These two were famous but there was no film or video games back then that made them famous. I read Jessie James was a murderer and a racist. How much does hate speech and intolerance towards others attribute to violence?

I have a different view of a gun than most people that admire them. I view a gun as a weapon. I don't have this view of owning a gun as being macho or the idea of firing one as sport. I don't view taking any life, even killing animals just for sport. That is why I admire the philosophy of the native American Indians. They killed animals like the buffalo for food, clothing and shelter but saw the whiteman killing buffalo for sport. I think owning a gun today for many people seems fashionable for them. I've read research done with young gang members claiming guns give them a sense of having power. That view of guns is being pushed by the NRA. It is another form of addiction.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 06:45 AM

4. Your comments are very much to the point

Your comments make points that are vital to looking at the situation as a whole. Violent movies were very popular when I was young. They were westerns and war movies rather than the action films like Die Hard, but they were all about shooting lots of people, too. Difference was that the average non-rural teenager would have no chance of getting hold of a gun. In those days switchblades were considered to be the extreme in weaponry available to a younger person, and I didn't really know anyone who actually owned one of those either. Even the baddest of the bad boys. Most of our community had moved out from rough neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Fights were common, although they tended to be between kids from rival towns rather than blocks as in the city. They all resembled typical baseball brawls. Rarely was there even a black eye. Fatal injuries were unheard of. No weapons. Lack of weapons made the difference, not the fascination with violence. Actually, the fact that weapons were not generally available made the use of one seem like crossing a line that even the hottest heads saw as significant.

I do, however, sometimes wonder about the effect of slasher films on an already disturbed mind. Not just the biggies, like the ones with Freddie or Jason or Michael Myers, but also the myriad of small budget copycats. There are really an awful lot of those and I can see them fueling a desire for revenge on everyone by someone who is already deeply disturbed. Of course, shooting is not the usual method of dispatching those victims so there's that, but still, those movies do bother me a little.

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Response to union_maid (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 09:02 AM

10. Good point . . .

. . . and I didn't intend to suggest that there might not be valid reasons to look into the matter of what psychosocial effects these movies might have (particularly on already disturbed individuals). I was just trying to point out that in the context of this debate, at least, it's a distraction from the real issue.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 07:43 AM

5. How come other nations watching the same movies aren't having massacres?

Oh, right, they have gun control.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 08:33 AM

6. No guns = no gun deaths

 

No cars =no car accidents

No alcohol = no alcoholics.

Get rid of the problem right at its source.

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Response to xoom (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 08:36 AM

7. No freedom = no bad choices

Just sayin'

Bryant

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Response to xoom (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 11:08 AM

12. Britain Australia Canada regulate guns.

There is a reasonable compromise between individual freedom and public safety that other more rational nations appear to have implemented.

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Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 08:55 AM

8. As I understand it, research has not demonstrated causality between violent media content

and violence, at least in a one-to-one sense.

But the Mean World Syndrome research does demonstrate fairly definitively another phenomenon: violent medi content convinces people that the world is far more violent than it really is. In this sense, we don't draw the line from violent media content to violent intentions/acts. Rather, we draw it from violent media content to the kind of rampant paranoia and fear that drives many arguments in gun culture (hunting excluded, clearly). The big divide between gun proponents and opponents is probably to be drawn along the Mean World Syndrome lines, where gun proponents have a vastly inflated sense of how dangerous the world actually is. Indeed, it is this basic premise that drives most of their arguments, where both "the government" and "criminals" pose an ever-present, constant threat to their lives.

Violent media doesn't cause violent intentionalities. Rather, it produces a seriously skewed view of the world and human relations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mean_world_syndrome

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Response to alcibiades_mystery (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 08:58 AM

9. Excellent point . . .

. . . thanks for adding it!

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Response to alcibiades_mystery (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 12, 2013, 09:10 AM

11. America..."Home of the Brave"

I think you have hit the nail squarely on the head....I think the Media (talk radio, violent movies, and News sources) have drummed up so much fear and loathing in this country that everyone feels it is absolutely essential to own a gun....America is a country living in terror and it has almost nothing to do with Bin Ladin and his goat herder friends...

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