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NRA statement : Are Hollywood movies encouraging violence?

The NRA released a controversial statement yesterday regarding the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and blamed the media, music videos, movies and video games for exposing youth to a culture of violence.

National Rifle Association Executive VP Wayne LaPierre has faced mounting criticism since he made the strongly worded statement, which has been called a PR disaster.

When speaking of movies, he singled out 'Natural Born Killers', made in 1994 and 'American Psycho', released in 2000 as examples:

"Through vicious, violent video games with names like Bulletstorm, Grand Theft Auto, Mortal Kombat and Splatterhouse. And here's one: it's called Kindergarten Killers. It's been online for 10 years. How come 
my research department could find it and all of yours either couldn't or didn't want anyone to know you had found it?
Then there's the blood-soaked slasher films like "American Psycho" and "Natural Born Killers" that are aired like propaganda loops on "Splatterdays" and every day, and a thousand music videos that portray life as a joke and murder as a way of life. And then they have the nerve to call it "entertainment."
But is that what it really is? Isn't fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?

In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing an ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes — every minute of every day of every month of every year."

- Full Statement

Are Hollywood movies really to blame for mass shootings (even if they were made more than a decade ago)? One argument could be that gun culture is glorified by the stories and the characters that we see in the cinema. Indeed many movies do have explicit violence, guns, shootings, brazen criminals and psychotic characters, but isn't this a form of escapism we have accepted? Isn't that why the MPAA and film certification exists? This objective being to protect young people from content that could have a negative psychological impact?

Video games and music videos may intentionally create sensationalism through violence, but is it really intoxicating culture, and can it be considered a significant factor behind these horrific shootings? An argument against this statement is that there is clear evidence of low gun crime rates in Europe, that show the same, shocking, and violent films, games and music videos. The only difference is that it is virtually impossible to get a gun, let alone own one. However this alone is not a strong enough argument to deflect criticism of Hollywood completely, and Europe at the end of the day, is not America.

Many movies today are violent, and they do create fiction that can make guns seem cool and accessible, and there are titles now and in the future that will reinforce this message.

I think there is a general understanding of sensationalism in movies and video games as a whole. People love the thrill of violence on their screens, but it doesn't mean that they will be encouraged to go out and shoot people. Mentally ill people will always be a danger to the population if they can get their hands on weapons, regardless of the "entertainment culture" we live in. While I won't say violence is a good message to promote in movies or games, it's very hard for me to see why entertainment or the media should be singled out as a culprit for mass killings.

In retrospect, what I do think should happen is people should look at how movies are promoted. As the promotion elements of new film titles are more easily accessible through the web, these materials could be subject to further scrutiny to avoid enhancing the 'glory' of gun culture. I would welcome a look into that.

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