Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times penned an op/ed claiming that violent movies don’t make people violent, but instead are a “positive force.” Her diatribe highlights the mental disturbance that’s the result of hoplophobia. Here’s some analysis of her points.
“A good deal of movie violence is designed as a way for us to experience it vicariously.”
Why does she need to “vicariously” experience violence? If she were writing about XXX-rated movies, we would call it pornography, which purportedly offers viewers vicarious stimulation, too. According to a Psychology Today author: “pornography not only arouses, it tutors our imagination.” In this way, pornography “shapes male expectations” and “splits men’s consciousness,” destroying their ability to relate to real women.
Now we’re supposed to believe that violence-pornography doesn’t affect people’s minds, while sex-pornography does. Welcome to the split consciousness at the LA Times.
Here’s more evidence of a “split consciousness.” Sharkey acknowledges violence “has been with us since the dawn of mankind.” Violence preceded guns, too. Imagine a woman with a stick facing off with a large male. Now replace that stick with a pistol. It’s no wonder that rape increased in Britain and Australia after they enacted massive gun bans.
Another point of Sharkey’s is just as revealing: The thought of filmmakers making their movies “less gruesome” is, to her, “the scariest proposition of all.”
Why shouldn’t this be considered addiction? Addicts live in fear of losing access to their drug(s) of choice, upon which they’ve come to depend. The Medical Dictionary notes: “Using drugs repeatedly over time changes brain structure and function in fundamental and long-lasting ways.” [emphasis added]
Evidence suggests that those long-lasting brain changes are responsible for the distortions of cognitive and emotional functioning that characterize addicts, particularly the compulsion to use drugs.
Why shouldn’t watching violent movies cause similar results? This concept is widely accepted by researchers. Here’s the conclusion from a group of authors representing the Universities of Arizona, California, Iowa State, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin:
Research on violent television and films, video games, and music reveals unequivocal evidence that media violence increases the likelihood of aggressive and violent behavior in both immediate and long-term contexts.
I’m not a psychologist, nor am I diagnosing anybody here. But responsible journalists should always reflect on how to best serve society, considering the power we’ve been given to influence public discourse.
In that vein, we must ponder: If an author is addicted to the vicarious thrills she experiences from watching violence-pornography, then her brain function may have altered to the point that whatever she avers as truth must be examined. Furthermore, if such mental illness exists, then it’s socially irresponsible for the Times to continue allowing her to publicly praise violence-pornography as a “positive force,” because such enabling behavior not only damages the author’s chances of recovery, but it fosters an environment wherein more get led into addiction. If a major media organization says it’s okay, such rationalization can convince an impressionable person balanced between conscience and social pressure.