Did Movie Violence Play a Role in Aurora Massacre?

Tuesday, 24 Jul 2012 10:46 AM

By James Hirsen

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In the aftermath of the carnage that occurred at an Aurora, Colorado midnight showing of the highly anticipated film, "The Dark Knight Rises," it is important to note the heightened violence contained in movies and its effect on society.
Alongside the booby traps, IEDs, trip wires, and accelerants that were found in 24-year-old suspect James Holmes' 850-square-foot apartment were a "Batman" poster, a mask, and an assortment of other movie related paraphernalia, according to police investigators.

Additionally, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly revealed that following his arrest, Holmes identified himself as "The Joker," an insidious onscreen character from the "Batman" films.

Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates stated that it could take several months for authorities to develop a personality profile and possibly determine a motive for Holmes.

Nevertheless, it is significant that the suspect identified with an onscreen character that plays a pivotal and intensely violent role in the movie, portrayed in the second installment of the "Batman" series by the late Heath Ledger.

Regrettably, the violence that is present in modern media is much more potent than in the past. Contemporary violent depictions are more explicit, more prevalent, and more intensely cruel than those contained in previous cinematic presentations.

New technology in the form of computer-generated imagery and 3-D has allowed the entertainment industry to convey brutality in a much more explicit and graphic manner. The Internet and new media have paved the way for a proliferation of violence, which has escalated to an unprecedented level across the media landscape.

Most unfortunately, entertainment product has been infused with an intense cruelty that generally in the past was reserved for fringe adult-oriented fare.

"The Dark Knight" actually features a villain that appears to takes sadistic satisfaction in prolonged brutality and even deviously resourceful murder.

A number of recent movie releases have been devoid of plot and character development, opting instead to take violence and elevate it to star status.

The entertainment industry has a tradition of self-policing. The time has come for the industry to acknowledge that there is a media ethics component to the creative arts profession and at a minimum to consider a revamping of the 40-year-old ratings system that mixes an assessment of violence with profanity and sex.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax.TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.

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