I was working at the West Theatre (owned and operated by the Slovenian Community since 1942) when “E.T.” came to town. The West was an old time single screen theater and everything from collecting tickets to selling popcorn took place in that one auditorium. My job as assistant manager (which meant I was paid 25 cents more than everyone else) was to watch the movie and make sure the it remained clear and the sound was good, and to see to it that nobody was smoking or talking, and that, in general, everything ran smoothly, which it did most of the time, which made the job after seeing any movie two or three screening incredibly boring.
Well “E.T.” was so popular it ran for two weeks, which meant at least two screening every single day of the week and three on the weekend. Mercifully that little extra terrestrial left. But he came back again for three more weeks. This is where I can testify that movies cause violence. By the end of the run I was wishing that just once that ugly little thing would die a slow horrible death at the end of the movie.
All joking aside the issue of how we portray life in the movies, sexuality, about what it important and what makes us happy, and the amount a violence we see has an effect on our lives. It is like Scriptures that call us to task when we blame God when everything goes wrong in our lives and take all the credit when thing go right. Karen Hershenson brought this notion up in her book, “Hollywood vs America”. Here is an excerpt from an old article on the book;
“The book exposes what Medved contends are Hollywood’s "three big lies" — that movies and TV don’t influence, they just entertain; that they merely reflect what’s going on in society; and that producers are just being good business people."What has happened in Hollywood," he says, "is the lunatics have taken over the asylum."
"Medved recalls talking recently to a top studio executive who claimed "Lethal Weapon 3" — last year’s action blockbuster — "saved thousands of lives" with a four-second close-up of stars Danny Glover and Mel Gibson fastening their seatbelts. Never mind the exploding office buildings and 150-mph car
This whole notion came up the other day with a man whom I have a great deal of respect and he shared his observations.
“On the increasing-ominous web site My Space, the young man’s “profile” contained a number is disturbing entries including his desire to torture and kill. According to one article in the days following his arrest, a connection was made between the crime committed and a similar crime depicted in a movie.
“The charge that movies incite, or at least inspire – behavior is not new. It’s also pretty hard to debate on an empirical level. How many violent acts can be attributed to an urban gang film? I’m not sure; how many people suddenly went out to feed the birds after watching “Mary Poppins”?
“But consider this detail, which I have not seen in any article relating to this crime. The victim was employed at a movie theater. It is conceivable, as I allow my undisciplined imagination free reign, that this was not such a random action after all. Did the victim, on some occasion, meet the suspect perhaps serve him his popcorn or tell him to, “Enjoy the show?” Was she, in fact, targeted as an indirect result of her job?
“On a larger scale, what culpability does the movie industry – indeed this entire culture – share in this sad sequence of events? As our senses are assaulted and our nerves dulled by depictions of violence, do we even shake our heads and cluck our tongues anymore as we switch from CNN to HBO?
“Movies such as the “Saw” and “Hostel” franchise depict unspeakable acts of depravity committed in the name of entertainment. The egregiously flawed rating system in use by the movie industry restricts admission solely on the basis of age. While there can be no practical way to assess mental stability, the notion that “Saw” or Hostel is truly intended for “mature audiences” is ludicrous. No mature and reasonable individual would patronize such films.
“The week after the girl in Kansas City was killed, “Hostel 2” opened in theaters across the country. Hundreds of refreshments stand and box office clerks waited on thousands of complete strangers who paid to see brutality and carnage enacted on the screen. We can only imagine what twisted fantasies were indulged there in the darkness. Who knows what unspeakable plans were made on the way out the doors?”