We’ve all heard it before in the nightly newscasts or read about it in the daily papers. The story of how a seemingly normal individual went crazy and hacked up members of his family or how kids walked into their school and shot the place up killing innocent victims who just happened to be in their way, or how about the quiet loner who went on a mass killing spree and kept some body parts from his victims in his freezer? What we are hearing more and more these days is how all of these people were hooked on horror movies, or played the latest zombie killing game on their X-Box for hours and hours on end, or listened to an old album repeatedly that contained some sort of hidden message.
I, for one, don’t buy it. In an attempt to find a logical explanation for illogical and psychopathic behavior, we tend to just try and blame it on something most of us can agree on rather than try and tap into that persons psyche to find out what is really making them tick. It’s easy to lay the blame squarely at the feet of graphic violence in the entertainment industry but, as a lifelong fan of horror movies, I find myself more horrified by the images I see on the nightly news than anything I could see in a movie or read about in the latest Stephen King book. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that there are situations where someone has been pushed over the edge by viewing this type of stuff but that also leads us to believe that they had some sort of mental problem in the first place and those words, sounds or images just acted as a catalyst. My feeling is that they would have gone off the deep end anyway and were just sped along a little by outside influences.
If anything I believe that the reverse is true in most cases and that these games and movies actually prevent these persons from acting out quicker. The reason they become so immersed in them is so that they can live out their feelings and needs vicariously through the characters portrayed in their fixation of choice. Eventually though, this isn’t enough for them and the only way to sate their needs is to do the real thing themselves.
If we were really to buy into the idea that repetitive viewings of violent and horrific imagery leads to some sort of mental break then I should be locked up somewhere for life or have been put to death by now but, you see the thing is, I can separate reality from entertainment and right from wrong, something that is sorely lacking in these individuals which again goes back to a pre-existing mental condition rather than something triggered by what they saw.
There have always been serial killers and mass murderers long before we have video games or the internet. These types of things may seem more frequent now but there are a lot more people on Earth now than then and thanks to satellites and the web we have news of killings and violent crime mere minutes after the events have occurred. We have become so desensitized to this violence and part of the reason we have done so is because we believe we know the answer to why it’s happening. But do we really? If we destroyed all video game systems, shut down the internet and outlawed the making and showing of horror movies tomorrow, would the killings stop? I really don’t think so, so what could we lay the blame on then?