Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Screen violence vs. real-life violence

In her comment to my "Cunts" post below, Candy Minx asked whether the violence wreaked by these men was as a result of watching the "ultraviolence" of A Clockwork Orange. I assumed this was meant in a tongue-in-cheek way, which is why I didn't directly refer to it in my reply comment.

However, some people do believe there is a connection between screen violence and real-life violence. I am not one of them. To a point.

I have always been fervently anti-censorship of everything, especially the arts, which include, in my humble opinion, film-making and writing. To a point. That point is at which someone or something becomes involved or injured or killed against his or her or its own wishes. Like the cat in that film that was made a few years ago. That's not art.

But I think the key element of the equation here is the viewer of violent films, or the reader of violent literature. And you can't legislate for stupid people. To do so is an infringement of our civil liberties.

So because some stupid people out there are undoubtedly influenced by what they watch, read, or even play on their games consoles, we responsible types are limited in our choices. Certain films are cut to reduce the possibility of copycat violence, for example, or banned outright.

The Jamie Bulger case of a few years ago was interesting – and probably an important moment in British censorship history.

Jamie Bulger was not yet 3 years old when he was abducted and killed by two 10-year-old boys. It was claimed that Bulger's killers (and I make no excuse for them; I hope they rot in hell) were influenced in the way they killed Bulger by the movie Child's Play 3, which they had allegedly watched, despite being under the age limit for that movie, because one of the boys' fathers had recently rented it.

The facts disclosed by the trial, according to the Wikipedia article on the story, include that "one of the boys threw blue modelling paint on Bulger's face. They kicked him and hit him with bricks, stones and a 22-lb (10-kg) iron bar." And The Sun newspaper decided that some of this violence was directly copied from the aforementioned Chucky movie.

I've not seen Child's Play 3, so I can't comment on that, but I have seen about a billion Tom & Jerry cartoons, many of which include the type of violence displayed by these "boys". And I've seen Home Alone, which also demonstrates to children that there are no ill effects suffered after being smashed in the face with full tins of paint and the like.

I'm not calling for censorship of the arts, no sirree. But at least "violent" films like A Clockwork Orange and horror films like Child's Play and disturbing literature such as American Psycho do present the realities of violence.

Remember, these films are not meant for children anyway, whereas cartoons and the Home Alone series are, and ask yourself what your kids are watching today.


Blogger a.c.t said...

I totally agree with you there - those kids who killed Jamie Bulgar should never have been watching that film to begin with. Their parents have a lot to answer for. I don't doubt for a second that films influence kids' actions.
For adults however, it's a different stoty - certain films do glamourise violence and drug taking, but I'm afraid to say, they're the films I enjoy the most. But you have to be sensible about it and realise where to draw the line between fantasy and reality. IT'S A FILM FOR FUCK'S SAKE. Anybody who commits any acts of violence after watching a film is a complete fucking idiot anyway and obviously lacks any intelligence.

03 May, 2006 09:45  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Of course, I'm not suggesting Tom & Jerry should be banned. I'm merely pointing out that violent films are often no more violent than cartoons, but at least in films you get to see that violence has an effect. You don't see this in cartoons.

It's all down to the individual watching the piece in question. And some people are never going to inflict this sort of hurt on people regardless what they watch, while others will even if they have never even seen a film, read a book, or whatever.

03 May, 2006 09:47  
Blogger a.c.t said...

I wasn't refering to your comment then, I agree with you, cartoons can definitely have an effect on children. I think it has a lot to do with the way children are brought up. Look at Italy for example - I'm not saying there isn't any violence, but there is certainly a lot less. I think it's the fact that they are brought up knowing that violence is wrong and therefore watching this stuff doesn't have an effect - they know what is right from wrong. Italian TV also has a lot of nudity yet it doesn't seem to have a negative effect - the UK has a much higher paedophile rate ane teenage pregnancy yet cencorship is more strict. Surely that's saying something about society in this country.

03 May, 2006 10:07  
Blogger The Wanted Man said...

I remember seeing Childs Play 3 just a week or so before the whole Bulger incident. I was too young (legally) to watch that film also. I however have never committed an unprovoked attack on anyone.

It's such bollocks when people blame movies or games for people being crazy. Did Jack the Ripper play Grand Theft Auto? Did Ed Gein ever see Nightmare on Elm Street?

Monsters are born, not made by watching films or playing games.

03 May, 2006 12:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son watches Fimble club. But the first rule of Fimble club is do not talk about Fimble club.

03 May, 2006 14:24  
Blogger Camie Vog said...

My son (4 years) has recent discovered Tom & Jerry cartoons. He has watched them for an hour a day for the past week or so. He has yet to hit me in the head with a frying pan.
I think it is on how you raise your kids, and their particular personality (and whether or not they have a mental condition which needs treatment). My kid towers over 90% of his peers, yet he doesn't use his size to intimidate or beat down other kids. I have noticed during disagreements he has with other kids, if it escalates to hitting, he never throws the first punch or shove. He will defend himself accordingly, and in most cases the offending child backs down before he is beat down by my kid. As his parent, I allow him to fight his own battles, but will step in if it is getting out of hand. Parents should be held accountable if their minor children commit offenses against others. In Detroit, a 17 year old boy was tried as an adult and sentenced to 45 years for stabbing his mother over 100 times. He was 15 when he committed the murder.

03 May, 2006 14:39  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

More and more parents, in the UK at least, seem to be opting out of their parental responsibilities. But you're right, of course, Camie: what the child is taught at home is of paramount importance.

And then one can also get into the whole nature-vs-nurture debate – i.e., can a child be "born bad". Personally I think it can. But even one that isn't born bad is sure to be influenced by those around him/her.

I'm glad you haven't had the frying round your head yet, though!

03 May, 2006 17:20  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

And the less said about Fimble Club, the better. After all, I've got a feeling I know what the second rule is, too.

03 May, 2006 17:21  
Blogger ENGLISH RANTER said...

Most films, even Chucky I believe, have a have-a-go hero that saves the day.
If everyone copied what they did in films then when someone pulled a gun/kicked your head in then surely all the hero films would make some stranger step in and save the day.
Which judging by your top post, doesn't happen.
There is a medical condition about copying the behaviour you see - but I can't remember its name. Maybe I watched my goldfish too long as a kid.

03 May, 2006 19:11  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

I am absolutely against censorsip. Censorship is for parents, and too many parents want to be "friends" with their kids and can't say no or set boundaries. I believe the joy and pleasure of being a parent is being just that tough and keeping all the fun things away from kids(heh heh) My daughter used to say "I hate you, I'm not your friend" and I'd be like, thats okay, you don't have to like me or be my friend. I'm your mum. I have lots of friends that love me and admire me. You have to do what I say. Ha ha.

Um, kids are raised to be killers. something is so wrong all along the way. One definition or trait of a seial killer is "no childhood bliss' Often parents of serial killers, tortured them, killed their dreams and pets and played mind games.

The boys who saw Chucky and kille dJamie were headed that way anyways.

The parents of the boys in Columbine had to pay fines and I think they should.

There was a 12 yr old in Canadian small town last week, killed her parents and brother. With her 23 yr old boyfriend. They were goths. So ofcourse now everyone is like goth makes you kill.
My bro is a reporter and because I used to be a goth, he contacted me and got some sources...I said, forget about the goth angle, what were her parents up to...something is wong there, child abuse or something...

AnywaysI was being tongue-cheek about the Clockwork Orange movie, because the events sounded similar but I think this is always an important topic and something we will always need to think about.

Most of the greatest art wor and literature involves violence, either of nature, passions, politics and revolution or good and evil.

We have been involved in this dialogue of good versus evil for ever and nature and art forever that we tell stories, its what makes up the human condition. So very few damaged people are made from art...they are made by their parents and nutrition and health and environment. When serial killers go to jail, their mindset often levels out, yes, they are incurable, and yes they are a danger to their caretakers( perhaps they shouldn't be allowed to stay alive?) but they are no soon as they go to jail, without substance abuse and 3 squares a day and sleep their trolling insitincts and some of the misfunctions of their brains calm down. Still no cure though, they'd do it again.

We need to be involved and resposnible with children. We need to watch for signs of sociopathology in toddlers...its there for the educated eyes...and we must monitor and protect kids. There is a difference between the child and the adult.

Besides sometimes its even fun to be with kids, heh heh.

03 May, 2006 19:45  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Hi Candy. Thanks for your comment. I hope you weren't offended at the name-check; as mentioned, I was fairly certain that you were being tongue-in-cheek. It just made for a good starting point for this post.

"Perhaps they shouldn't be allowed to stay alive?" – now there's a topic for another day.

"Fun to be with kids"? – maybe, as long as you can put them back in their box afterwards.

* (asterisk)

04 May, 2006 07:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The second rule of fimble club, is 'Rolly Mole must be obeyed.'

04 May, 2006 10:02  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

yup. to all of it!

07 May, 2006 09:32  

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