Movie Violence and Real Life Violence

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The notion of whether there is a correlation between movie violence and real existence violence has been a controversial debate for many years. Currently, there is research being conducted in effort to uncover extra data linking movie violence to real existence violence. Examples of such research include the ones documented in the articles by filmmaker Oliver Stone and legal professional Michael Zimecki. The two articles are based on the “stimulus-response” and argues that films do, in fact, incite violence and since the First Amendment does no longer cover incited violence there exists no legal course of motion for such violence. The two articles are based on both deductive and inductive reasoning and argument. Considering the persuasion techniques used in the two articles in relation to effective argument, Zimecki’s argument is more compelling when compared to Oliver Stone’s because each claim in Zimecki’s arguments is backed by supporting factual evidence.

There is a strong correlation between movie violence and real life violence and Zimecki provides facts by using examples for his argument. He uses the New York subway incident where a subway token booth was burnt down in a manner similar to a scene in the movie Money Train as an example. This act resulted in the death of the token booth clerk, Harry Kaufman, who was inside when the young men torched it. Bob Dole, the Senate Majority leader, termed the action as a copycat crime, blaming the movie for its reenactment, thereby incitement. Zimecki’s argument proves even though in some cases there may be no connection between movie and real life violence like Money Train and the murder of subway token clerk Harry Kaufman, movies are still a significant cause violence. Therefore, according to Zimecki, even though filmmakers are protected by the First Amendment, they should take heed that violence has become so imminent in the society.

In Zimecki’s opinion, film makers are taking advantage of this amendment by using it to evade the consequences that may come with creating films that promote violence. Every idea has a consequence, and the act of writing and acting movies is no exception as it may lead to the imitation of dangerous actions seen in the movies as stated by the late Richard Weaver, a rhetoric professor at the University of Chicago, in Zimecki’s argument. Despite this, the U.S. courts continue to allow the creators of such material to present it to the public, claiming that the benefits of such creativity to the society overshadows the negative impact that the constant exposure to violence may have on the public. For this reason, the author suggests the adoption of laws that will bring responsibility to these filmmakers, stating, “life and art exert a strong tug on each other,” so there is a need to regulate this type of filmmaking in order to ensure the safety of others. Specifically, Zimecki singles out the legal definition of the word “incitement,” which the courts have narrowed protects filmmakers of violent films from taking responsibility. Therefore, if they are to held responsible, then eventual harm caused by their films should be treated as immediate harm.

Oliver Stone disagrees completely with Zimecki arguing that real life violence has no relationship with the violence in movies. In his defense, he argues that the accused murderers, Ben and Sarah were battling issues ranging from drug and alcohol abuse to psychiatric issues and the cause of their violent act could not be exclusively attributed to the film Natural Born Killers. The two teens were raised in families filled with a history of violence predisposing them to violence at an early age. Novelist and former lawyer John Grisham, the author who Stone was responding to in this article, argues film companies should be sued for coming up with movies that trigger violence and thus calls for the withdrawal of First Amendment rights that protects movies. According to Stone, Grisham articulates his argument based on the view that films should get censorship for violence. Such measures remain untested and the impact they may have on the relationship between violent films and real life violence remains unknown.

Stone bases his key argument on how a child’s upbringing influences their behavior more, when compared to influence from movies. Stones points out that children who grow up in a horrible family, full of fighting and abuse, will tend to develop this character and later indulge themselves into such action. Studies have suggested that children spend more time in front of the television than in school (1,100 in school and 1,500 watching television respectively). Therefore, most of the violence that children are exposed to early in life is the violence seen on television and in the movies. This indicates that the creators of these violent television programs and movies contribute significantly to violence among children since they have failed to consider that they make up a significant percentage of their audience. According to the study cited in the article, majority of these television programs contain violence and just about half of them show the pain or injuries of the victims. This gives the children the wrong impression of violence since apart from that, very few, only 16 percent show the long-term effects of violence while almost 75 percent of the time the perpetrators go unpunished.

As opposed to Stone’s argument, Michael Zimecki’s argument is evidence based with more than one real life event supporting his claim that film violence leads to real life violence. Zimecki cites three more real-life events that end in catastrophes when members of society act out what they see in movies. Such events included the death of the Pennsylvania teen who attempts to replicate scene from the movie The Program but ends up being crushed by a vehicle. Another supporting example given by Zimecki was the individuals who committed the 1974 Hi-Fi murder subjected their victims to actions similar to what they had seen in a scene in the movie Magnum Force. Just like in this film, the victims were made to drink Drano which ultimately caused their demise. Lastly, in a separate incidence the same year, a group of juvenile delinquents sexually assaulted a young girl, at a beach in San Francisco, in a fashion similar to an assault in a scene in the movie Born Innocent. Coincidentally, the movie was aired on national television just a few days prior to the assault.

Overall, Michael Zimecki’s argument is stronger than the argument presented by Stone since he offers supporting evidence to back up his claims. The persuasion in the two articles depicts the reality based on facts and opinions. There are fallacies in Stone’s argument since he wrote the article just to defend his film which was being attacked. His article uses inductive reasoning since he combines multiple premises including the role of artists in the society. It is less dependable since it relies mainly on beliefs as opposed to factual evidence. Zimecki uses deductive reasoning which is evidence-based to present his larger argument throughout the article. Zimecki manages to demonstrate that even though there may be no direct relation between movie and real-life violence, the movies contribute significantly to violence. As a result, he suggests that the law should refrain from protecting filmmakers and make them more accountable for their actions. Zimecki believes such a move will help reduce the prevalence of violent crimes and create a safer society.

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