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What Does Gun Violence Have To Do With Movies?
by John Thielking ( pagesincolor [at] yahoo.com )
Saturday Dec 15th, 2012 10:14 AM
The massacre in Connecticut this week has left people devastated and some are looking for answers. Does boycotting violent movies (or realizing that there are nonviolent alternatives available) offer any hope of creating a mandate for change/gun control/ poverty elimination? This author says an emphatic Yes!
What Does Gun Violence Have To Do With Movies?
by John Thielking
12-15-12

A recent debate that I had with Steven Argue brought up the fact that there are two sides in the debate over weather violence in movies and video games significantly increases violence in the real world. Jonathan L. Freedman wrote a report published by The Media Institute (a movie producer funded outfit) located here:
http://www.mediainstitute.org/PDFs/policyviews/Freedman-TelevisionViolence.pdf
that tries it's best to debunk the notion that violence in movies is significantly associated with violence in the real world. He claims that as little as 28% of the published studies on the issue show a positive correlation. However, while he is good at criticizing the other side for doing sloppy science (such as not being able to eliminate experimenter demand effects and achieve a perfectly double blind experiment that uses violent and nonviolent movies), he himself neglects to do a formal meta-analysis of the entire set of studies that he is reviewing. If there are 28 studies with 100 subjects that show a positive correlation while there are 72 studies with 10 subjects that do not, then it is quite obvious that the balance of the evidence shows a positive correlation.

On the other side is Craig A. Anderson PhD of Center For Study Of Violence of Iowa State University, who has his own vested interest in that his career depends upon him continuing to find problems with violence in movies re: violence in society. In his latest work (written by a panel of experts from the organization that he heads), available here:
http://www.israsociety.com/pdfs/Media%20Violence%20Commission%20final%20report.pdf
it is claimed that no less than 3 formal meta-analyses of the possible correlation between violence in media and violence in the real world show a positive correlation. In that same paper the panel writes that while there is a positive correlation between media violence and increased indicators of violence in experimental trials, this does not translate into as strong a correlation between media violence and criminal activity. That is a different level of violence not addressed by most of the studies.

The bottom line is this: A 2009 on the street survey of what kind of movies people want to watch showed that 1/2 of the people want to watch a nonviolent movie, 1/2 the people don't care one way or the other, and only 2 or 3 people out of 35 want to watch a violent movie or seek out violent themes such as horror movies as their favorite. In light of the latest school shooting in Connecticut, it seems that one route to diminishing gun violence is to make sure that the box office receipts match the survey results. If that ever happened, all the politicians would start running scared every time someone wanted to start a war or if there was any kind of gun violence anywhere in the USA. Every trick in the book would be thrown at the problem until it was solved. Not all of the problem has to do with gun control. Some of it has to do with income inequality and general economic insecurity. We should be solving those problems too. But we need something to signal that we have a mandate. If 75% of box office receipts went to movies such as Eat Pray Love and Dolphin Tale, we would have just such a mandate.

Let's get cracking!

http://www.peacemovies.com specializes in reviewing nonviolent movies. The movies that are too violent are listed but not reviewed.