Regarding the question posed in this week’s writing challenge: Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world? I am of the opinion that those with violent tendencies are going to act-out regardless of their viewing habits. Perhaps it’s a chicken-and-egg situation; do those with violent leanings watch more violent films, or do the violent films create violent tendencies in the viewer?
That being said I do think there is one aspect of “violent” entertainment that has no bearing whatsoever on actual acts of violence – cartoon “violence”. I’m not referring to adult cartoons that are very graphic and detailed in their depiction of violence; I mean good old Looney Toons cartoons.
Many people have said after committing an act of violence that they were inspired to do it by a film, book or artist, violent or not. John Hinkley Jr said the movie Taxi was his inspiration to go out and try to assassinate Ronald Reagan, so he could impress Jodie Foster with whom he claimed to be in love. Clearly Mr. Hinkley was not dealing from a full deck and may have been set off by anything Foster-related. Mark David Chapman said The Catcher in the Rye pushed him to kill John Lennon. And speaking of The Beatles, Charles Manson claimed they influenced his violence including the famous Tate-Labianca murders in 1969. I don’t imagine too many folks would claim Charlie was ever all there. He may well have acted out violently regardless of whether The Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Captain Kangaroo was sending him messages.
Clearly Mr. Hinkley was not dealing from a full deck and may have been set off by anything Foster-related.
But to my knowledge no one has ever said that watching DaffyDuck’s bill spinning around his head after being shot, or Yosemite Sam limping off after shooting himself in the foot while trying to get that varmint Bugs Bunny, drove them to kill. Nor have I heard that Wile E. Coyote’s indefatigable yet unfruitful attempts to do in the Road Runner ever caused anyone to commit vehicular homicide or drop an anvil on the president.
The results of cartoon violence are, paradoxically, non-violent. Daffy, after adjusting his bill, continues driving Elmer Fudd crazy; unscathed, the Road Runner gets back at Wile E. with a simple “Meep Meep” (an online debate rages as to whether it’s Meep or Beep, repeated of course), even the coyote recovers fully from boulders and anvils.
But to my knowledge no one has ever said that watching Daffy Duck’s bill spinning around his head after being shot, or Yosemite Sam limping off after shooting himself in the foot while trying to get that varmint Bugs Bunny, drove them to kill.
So further research needs to be done into the effects of violent films on people; but when it comes to Foghorn Leghorn blowing up his nemesis the dog, or any other cartoon silliness, I think we’re on safe ground. I hope you enjoyed this post, if not, you’ve got to admit you don’t often see photos of Daffy Duck and Charles Manson in the same article!