ALTHOUGH I'm prepared to argue rather loudly that violent movies
do trigger aggressive behavior in people, particularly many young
men and children, some film critics, studio executives, and
directors say this isn't so.
Essentially they reason as follows:
(1) Some movies with violence in them like "Juice,New Jack
City,Boyz N the Hood" (and even "Terminator 2") actually offer
messages of anti-violence or social redemption. They can't be
blamed for the murders and violence that occur at theaters when the
movies open. One critic wrote, "How can a group be incited by
watching what they are already living?" Others say violent movies
shouldn't be blamed when individuals see movies and commit
(2) Violent movies are cathartic and relieve some viewers of
violent tendencies. Society is violent; people can be nasty, and
movie violence stems violent urges.
(3) Movies are a business. If audiences stopped buying tickets
to violent films, such films wouldn't be made.
(4) Any kind of mandated censoring of violent movies, or other
explicit movies, would deny First Amendment rights. The
movie-rating code helps parents decide what is suitable for
children. Adults, of course, may see whatever they want.
Assuming that it is hard to agree on a definition of a "violent"
movie, here are some responses to the above four points.
First, no proof exists that violent movies are cathartic.
Hundreds of conclusive studies done by professional and educational
institutions over the last decade link aggressive and violent
behavior to violent movies seen in theaters or on TV. The evidence
For instance, the staff of Sen. Paul Simon (D) of Illinois, in
formulating a proposal (the Television Violence Act), found 85
studies connecting aggressive acts to children and TV violence.
It is not necessarily one movie by itself that triggers violent,
aggressive behavior (although this does happen); it is more often
the accumulation of hundreds of powerful images seen in dozens of
movies that shapes negative aspects of behavior.
Not a single study suggests that all people react the same way
to violent movies; but all together the studies present an alarming
Under the guise of entertainment, society is experiencing the
subjugating of innocence, reason, and kindness in many people to
aggression and killing as acceptable norms.
The rating code for movies no doubt helps some parents select
appropriate movies for children. …