I have always been skeptical about blaming the media for violence. In fact, sometimes I think the opposite is more likely. Instead of killing people in the streets, a potential murderer can occupy themselves by watching people get killed or by killing people in a video game from the comfort of their home.
Let’s keep in mind that life was pretty violent in medieval Europe and other ancient cultures. This was obviously not because of video games and movies. The earliest example of media inspiring killing that I can think of is “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Gothe. Supposedly the story inspired some young men to kill themselves. Randomly directed blame goes around and around every time there is a mass killing, but Ann Hornaday blaming the film “Neighbors” for a mass killing is the first I have seen leveled at a comedy.
Ann Hornaday’s piece: “In a final videotaped message, a sad reflection of the sexist stories we so often see on screen” has received a lot of attention that I don’t think she planned on. Judd Apatow made the following statement on Twitter:
However, after looking at Ann Hornaday’s writings, she does not seem like a big self promoter. She doesn’t have a big movie or other project to promote; She just seems to of written a piece that went viral.
I think it is possible that media does influence people to various degrees, but it is only a tiny minority that is susceptible enough to act on a murderous impulse. How do we solve media induced killing, Ann Hornaday? Do we make Judd Apatow movies illegal? That is a slippery slope that can lead to much unwanted censorship.
Ann later in her column complains about the lack of women in the film industry. Staying on her theme of media influencing behavior what should we do about the up coming female written and directed Fifty Shades of Grey? Would that movie inspire young women to become the sex slaves of Billionaires? I wonder if Ann thinks we should stop the showing of this film because of how it might influence real life behavior.
As I was reading Ann Hornaday’s Review of “Neighbors”, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Washington Post had her review the film in the first place? As a 27 year old guy, I suppose I am the target demographic for these films but Ann is an older women. Not that there are not older women who like these films… Would a Seth Rogan review of the movie “The Jane Austen Book Club” be taken seriously by anyone? Is it even possible to make a “BRO” film that was appealing to Ann Hornaday? I’m not judgin’, I’m just sayin’ as Ann quotes the movie to end her column. That said, Judd Apatow movies seem to be nothing but a series of stupid jokes with no real insights, but are they suppose to have any? Even knowing this I wouldn’t be able to take the opinion of Ann Hornaday seriously on films like “Neighbors”. They aren’t made to be appealing to her and most young men will never care what she likes or doesn’t like.