Movie director Quentin Tarantino dismisses the argument that movie violence is to blame for a spate of gun violence, including a movie theater shooting allegedly perpetrated by a gunman dressed like a movie character.
Of course, Tarantino knows very well how profitable movie violence can be and with his latest film coming out this holiday season, he may have a stake in making an argument diminishing the psychological damage of cinematic carnage.
Concern about the insidious effect of repeated, prolonged exposure to images of violence and how it may desensitize fragile or angry or isolated individuals has prompted a renewed national discussion. The National Television Violence Study found that nearly two of three TV programs contained some violence, averaging about six violent acts per hour.
Websites including kids-in-mind.com have begun to try to fill in the perceived shortcomings of the official moving ratings describing violence in the movies. The kids-in-mind.com site uses temperature gauge-style measures to describe the levels of violence, sexual imagery and profanity in the movies.
There is a general sense of skepticism about the will of elected officials to have the courage to stand up and expose themselves to the lobbying of the National Rifle Association. It will take something special to motivate the entertainment industry to make meaningful changes.
It can happen.
The anger and outrage of John Walsh after his son's kidnapping and murder spurred national action to develop more rapid and organized responses to child abductions. Mothers Against Drunk Driving helped move the national consciousness to recognize the danger of consuming alcohol or other drugs before getting behind the wheel. The same model has been employed to target other social needs.
Let's agree that society ought to explore ways to mitigate the likelihood that socially-isolated individuals may be influenced to commit wanton violence. What America needs now is an individual or organization to step forward to lead the crusade to encourage a more responsible attitude toward the presentation of violence in the media.