by Jason Nagy
from Creepercast Episode #85
It’s now been almost a week at the time of this recording, and almost 2 weeks if you’re getting this from the feed (longer if your reading this at www.creepercast.com), since the horrendous shootings in Aurora Colorado that left 12 dead and scores injured at the midnight Batman movie. Which was all very reminiscent of the beginning of Scream 2 when a person in the Ghost Face mask slashed people at the movie theater.
I know, you’re probably thinking, “This is an entertainment podcast. Why’s he bringing me down talking about this?” Well if you could just bear with me for a moment while I get some stuff off my chest I promise to get back to being entertaining.
I promise, I’m not going to talk about the shooter himself or the events that surrounded that night. There’s enough about that in the news. In fact, it’s the coverage of the atrocity that has me pissed.
You see… every time there’s a tragedy, news agencies want to extend their coverage of the event. I’ve worked in news for over a decade and I’ve seen it happen multiple times. When they run out of information to print or say the media has 2 options: 1) re-tell what they’ve already said, or 2) find people to speculate. They’ll get “experts” on different subjects to tell you why someone did something to everyone and the blame game begins. It’s the guns, the movies, the video games, the news, and now even comic books, and television.
In 1981 John Hinckley Jr tried to assassinate then US president Ronald Reagan and it was the film Taxi Driver that drove him to it. Or so they say.
Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007 because he was, reportedly, obsessed with the Korean slasher “Oldboy”.
And of course, it was the love for violent video games and “South Park” that drove Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999.
Violent films, TV,and video games such as the ones we talk about regularly on any given episode of The Creepercast, are constantly given responsibility for violence in today’s society.
So let’s consider this then, if violent media is responsible for these deranged individuals, what about Andrew Kehoe? On may 18th, 1927 Kehoe murdered his wife, burned his farm, and blew up the Bath Elementary School in Bath, Michigan. 45 people died that day: 38 children, 2 teachers, 4 adults, and Kehoe himself. There were also another 58 injured. If you don’t count 9/11 the Bath School Disaster is the deadliest mass murder in US history.
So what influenced Andrew Kehoe? TV was still in the experimental stage, films were just starting to get sound, and radio had only been round for a short time. Also, no violent video games, or video games at all for that matter. So who do we blame?
As I was watching the coverage of the Aurora shooting there were many experts establishing the usual blame by talking about films being too violent, others saying we should ban them right along with guns all while citing studies and statistics that made great sound bytes. They are taking advantage of what they believe to be the “convenient truth”… that people are lemmings and they see violence they re-act violently. Simple and to the point, right?
John Murray, of Kansas State University, published a review in 2008 titled: “Media violence: the effects are both real and strong.” In it, Murray claims that 50 years of research on the effect of tv violence on children leads to the inescapable conclusion that viewing media violence is related to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behaviors.”
The problem with Mr. Murray’s theory is that crime has been going down for the last 30 years, and violent crime is at the lowest point since 1960. If Murray’s research was correct, the US would currently look like “Robo-Cop-land.”
I don’t think media monsters create real ones. But, if they’re going to put an end to movie violence then horror films must be at the top of the list. It’s by far the most violent, graphic, and real form of genre film making. It’s also the most popular genre of films basically because people crave that feeling of being afraid. Fear of murder, death, and dismemberment is, after all, the most basic human fear. Horror films and literature serve a very fundamental purpose, to scare and desensitize its viewers. If you get the chance, watch a young child view a scary show. They cover their eyes then peer through them. It’s instinctual to over-come your fears and overcoming the fears on-screen allow you to overcome them in real life. You get desensitized to the violence on screen, not so you can kill someone is real life, but so you won’t be overcome with emotion in real life horrific situations. That is not to say these things stop affecting you. But, the desensitization allows you to cope better.
We watch zombie films to get an idea of how to react during something like Hurricane Katrina. We watch slashers to emotionally prepare us to deal with real life victimization. During the Cold War they watched giant bugs and space men to prepare themselves for the horrors of nuclear fallout. It goes on and on from there as horror has ingrained itself into human behavior through stories told around the camp fire, written in books, and captured on celluloid. After a tragedy, such as the Batman shootings, people shouldn’t demand films to be less violent, they should be thanking these violent film makers for giving a way to vicariously release their pent-up aggression and prepare for true life.
In the words of Skeet Ulrich from Scream, “Movies don’t create the psychos, movies just make psychos more creative.”
We of the Creepercast would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the victims, friends, and family of the Aurora shootings. Our hearts bleed for those senselessly lost and those who must live with the aftermath. On the same token we know there will be nothing other than never-ending torment for the sick bastard that caused them loss and pain. We ask that you keep all the victims in your hearts ahead of anything else as this drama unfolds. After all, the idiot that wronged them deserves much less attention than the media is giving him. Reportedly he was a man who was mediocre at best and the crime he has committed is not what should stand as his greatest achievement. Because even in that he misrepresented a film/comic character he obviously knew next to nothing about. If there really was a Joker he’d be offended this guy claimed his persona nor does he deserve to be continually named alongside him. More importantly lets keep to the understanding that this man acted alone. He planned and carried out this act without any help from television, horror films, and video games. The constant conjecture that they can be blamed is only giving him a cop-out and as Jason has so well put it, these creations are there for those of us who couldn’t take our eyes off the TV when the news broke because it all seemed like a hoax carried out by some mastermind horror director. Just think, if it weren’t for that first reaction we might have been running through the streets freaking out all War of the Worlds style instead. Keep the love in your hearts, the fire in your soul, and may the beasts only ever torment you from the screen.
Farewell from the beasts and I
JP (Jeff) Hunt