Saturday, 21 April 2007

Any Link Here?



It is always a contentious subject but violent films inspiring real life violence should be thrown in the ring along with lax gun laws and mental illness as possible motives behind acts like we witnessed this week.
US Police are investigating whether Cho Seung-Hui was copying scenes from the Japanese film 'Oldboy' when he murdered 32 people with
Officers believing he repeatedly watched this particular film.
The top gun-to-head picture looks eerily similar to the actors pose from the film but that is a very familiar pose i have seen many times before. It is the hammer wielding image below that makes the link between the film and his mindset.
The fact that he seems to have been influenced by the film will rightly re-ignite the debate over whether violence in movies can lead to people becoming more violent themselves.

18 comments:

Don said...

A knotty problem because people will always push the limits of freedom of speech as a matter of principle. But those kinds of films are among the practices people have that explicitly dehumanize themselves and/or others, and this cannot but lead to violence at some point. I wish for a world in which no one ever wants to hurt or play with the idea of hurting anyone else. How in heck to we achieve that?

Arthur_Vandelay said...

The fact that he seems to have been influenced by the film will rightly re-ignite the debate over whether violence in movies can lead to people becoming more violent themselves.

Can a similar link be drawn between exposure to violence in movies and not becoming more violent oneself? It seems to me that a far greater proportion of people who watch violent films don't go outside and shoot up the neighbourhood.

A knotty problem because people will always push the limits of freedom of speech as a matter of principle.

And rightly so.

But those kinds of films are among the practices people have that explicitly dehumanize themselves and/or others, and this cannot but lead to violence at some point.

That's a bold statement. I've seen my share of violent films. Are you suggesting that I'm more prone to violence as a result of having watched these films? What evidence do you have to support your claim?

Bottom line: Cho Seng-Hui shot and killed 32 people because he was mentally ill. (Which is not to suggest that if you have a mental illness, you are one day going to do what he did.)

Stephen said...

I too suspect that mental illness has a lot to do with this case. The similarities between the photos are striking, though.

Lucyp said...

My take Arthur is that there are some peope who are more liable to be affected by violent films. 99.9% of people can watch a film and not go outside and act out what they have seen but my feeling is that films can and do stir up strong emotions.
In this case, the Oldboy film may seem to have been a contributing factor.

Arthur_Vandelay said...

If there are some people who are more liable to be affected by violent films, then what is the solution?

Do we ban violent films altogether?

Do we introduce special licenses to allow people to watch violent films, and then ensure that such licenses are not issued to those with mental illnesses?

Or do we perhaps simply acknowledge that exposure to violent films may have inspired and already mentally unstable individual to perpetrate this tragedy, without demonising violence in film or in any other aesthetic medium.

Lucyp said...

The third option but i would like to see the film industry made aware that they have a responsibilty. Maybe the Film regulators be tougher with their certificates or another certificate for films that have violence deemed above the norm.
The film-makers would be forced to lessen the level of violence to enable a lower certificate rating or allow the film go out but with such a high rating it would be subject to limits.

The Fez Monkey said...

The idea that blame for this (or any past or yet to come) instances of an insane geek snapping and going on a killing spree should be placed - to any extent - on movies / music / TV / video games / books / paintings / etc is pretty much absurd.

Casting aside the valid argument of how many people are exposed to this and don't commit this kind of crime, do you honestly believe that if this lunatic hadn't seen any violence he wouldn't have done this? At worst, violent media might inspire someone to the manner of what they do (say, the type of gun, or clothing), but these people would still do these things even if they never saw a single act of violence in any movie.

Ook ook

Lucyp said...

Of course fez, if someone is going to kill then they will do it regardless of whether they have seen a violent film or not.
What we are dealing with is the mentally unhinged who do not think rationally like us and can be stirred by violent images.

Arthur_Vandelay said...

I'm sorry, but I think the "violent images" factor is being massively overstated here--at the expense of what I believe is a far more crucial variable, namely his mental state.

Let's face it: incidents like VT, as tragic as they are, are rare even among the mentally ill. That's because for most people with mental illnesses there are adequate support systems in place to help them cope with their conditions and lead normal lives.

Were these support systems adequate in the case of Cho Seng-Hui? He apparently suffered from a fair deal of bullying in his school days. Could this have contributed to his attitude towards his fellow-creatures, manifested in his murderous rampage?

I think we should try to answer these questions before we consider sacrificing everybody else's liberties.

Lucyp said...

I dont see it as sacrificing anyone's liberties. All the variables have to be included in order to work out what drives these people to act as they do. It would be crazy not to include use of violent movies along with everything else.

Joe the Troll said...

When I see discussions like this, I always wonder why it is that when someone shows kindness to a total stranger no armchair psychiatrist points at him and says "He must have seen 'Schindler's List'!" or "He must have been listening to the Partridge Family".

Courtney Hamilton said...

I'm inclined to agree with Arthur on this issue - we shouldn't allow the actions of lunatics like Cho to impinge on hard won liberties.

I'm amazed Lucy that you don't think that by making film regulators 'tougher' by imposing higher ratings for films with violent scenes, will not sacrifice anyone's liberties. I think this is quite wrong.

The reason is, they might call themselves the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification), but they were formally known as British Board of Film Censors - film regulators, are in the first instance, in the business of censorship - hence the relevance of liberties.

These are the same people that banned films like The Evil Dead, Dead & Buried, Flesh Of Frankenstein, I Spit On Your Grave, and the Japanese film Shogun-Assassin - all I think are available now, which makes me wonder why they were even banned in the first place.

To be honest Lucy, your solution of tougher film regulators has a rather authoritarian ring about it - and it also fit nicely with our current culture of increasingly censoring others, as well as ourselves.

Lucyp said...

I fail to see it as censorship Courtney, i see it as expanding the current certificate rating.
The obvious example, not to compare them but merely as an example, would be pornography.
Soft core porn has a certifcate of 18, anything that is deemed rather more hardcore is given an X.
That is not censorship, that is giving the audience an idea of what level of pornography they are going to see.
Why would this not work with movies that depict violence rather then sex?

Joe the Troll said...

Well, either way, Cho was old enough to view what he wanted, so this is just a feel-good measure that would have no actual effect, it seems.

Lucyp said...

Your right Joe, it would not of stopped what happened there at all.

Arthur_Vandelay said...

I fail to see it as censorship Courtney, i see it as expanding the current certificate rating.

It's a subtle form of censorship insofar as film-makers are obliged to sanitise the content of their works in order to avoid a stricter classification--which tends to have a negative impact upon a film's profitability.

I can see the reason in this sort of policy being applied to cigarette packets (i.e. limited advertising, packaging carrying graphic warnings, etc.) because of the demonstrated link between smoking and various forms of cancer. But, leaving aside the fact that everytime a tragedy like this occurs there are always those eager to blame the incident on film & TV violence, has a causal link between violent images in pop culture and actual violence ever actually been demonstrated?

Lucyp said...

I did not say there was a link, i suggested that it should be taken into consideration because of the obvious link between the film and the shooter.
As for obvious links between film violence and actual violence, the moment that made me ponder it myseklf was the Jamie Bulger case in the UK where two boys watched Childs Play 3 and then killed a toddler in the exact same way, complete with a battery inserted into his backside after killing him.

Anonymous said...

It's a Korean film, not a Japanese one. I suggest you see the film if you haven't (one of the most praised movies of 2003). Anyhow, it's obvious the shooter missed the whole point of the film. Like everyone else has stated, our culture is violent (it always has been in all cultures throughout time). In this case, the source of the shooting was mental illness, nothing more,