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We miss the days of public executions

“A scene in ‘Gangster Squad,’ featuring a shoot-out in a cinema, was cut and replaced after the killings in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20th of last year.  And the première of ‘Jack Reacher,’ in Pittsburgh, on December 15th, was postponed after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, the previous day; the film begins with citizens being gunned down by a sniper with a high-powered rifle.  These reactions were respectful and responsible.  To claim that all due respect has now been paid, however, or that all ethical responsibilities have been fulfilled, would be disingenuous.  The issue of screen violence carries far less weight, in such fathomless horrors, than that of gun control; the connection between what a disturbed and resentful young man used to watch, or play on his computer, and what he then wreaks in public with an assault weapon wouldn’t matter if he couldn’t lay his hands on such a weapon in the first place.  Yet the connection, however oblique, exists.  You can argue that evil will always seek a blueprint and find a way, but we are still obliged, I think, to pass beyond the pathology of the madman and pose a vaster and no less vexing question.  What does it mean for the majority of us, the nonviolent millions, that, year after year, we should observe such a rising flood of savage fictional acts that, after a while, we scarcely notice or mind?” – Anthony Lane, “Violent Screen”

Published inPolitics & Law

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