Did Movie Violence Play a Role in “The Dark Knight Rises” Shooting?
It is the worst mass shooting in United States history, with at last count 59 individuals injured and 12 people killed, at the July 20th midnight premier in Aurora, CO. As the news broke, it reignited the argument that violence in movies led to this catastrophe. In fact, James Holmes, the man currently in custody for the shootings, told police he was The Joker and had dyed his hair to resemble that of the Batman villain. So did the violence portrayed by The Joker influence Holmes to enter a crowded movie theater and shoot people at random? I honestly think the answer is yes; the violence may have influenced him and added to his already skewed reality.
Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a psychiatrist, says this about the shooter, "Many present-day movies are really a promotion of violence, though some people are more vulnerable than others — especially those who have a mental illness. This is bizarre psychotic behavior. That much is clear. What's the underlying delusion or system? That we may or may not find out." I find the entire incident to be a real tragedy and my heart goes out to those affected by the shooting.
Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with celebrity parenting. As I thought about my blog, my thoughts continued to return to the tragedy that happened. In the odd way that my brain works, I then began to think about the actors, and how they feel about the incident and even more so, how they will answer their childs' questions if they ask about the shooting. There is no argument that the “Dark Knight” series of the Batman movies are violent, often featuring characters that terrorize citizens with their mayhem.
Christian Bale is the actor who plays Batman in “The Dark Knight Rises” and has an eight-year-old daughter, Emmaline. He has said this about violence before: “You can't help but find that violence is endlessly fascinating–and I mean true violence, not action-movie violence, just because it is used as the answer to so many problems. We're all taught as kids not to be violent, but you can't help but also see that violence is what works very often. Bullies thrive.”
So I guess my question is how does a parent who has portrayed violence, himself, in movies answer a child’s questions about why what he does is ok? I realize violence in movies is pretend, but I don’t allow my children to pretend to shoot their siblings or act out violence – so, why would it be ok for me to do it? Does making millions on a film make it ok? Or is it "Do as I say, not as I do"?
What do you think about violence in movies and its affect on our children?