Friday, January 23, 2009

Violent Films are Good for You

On our January 22 show, we had such a rollicking good time (soon to be available on podcast) on Culture Wars that a few interesting moments still come to mind. Actually a couple of moments where we talked about a few nicely controversial things that might not have been as well-elaborated upon as they should have been.

Like my reflections on being accused of being the anti-Christ just a couple of days after Christmas…during a get-together with friends I haven’t seen in some two years. Since this is not something that happens to you (or at least to me) every day, you kind of wind up scratching your head over it for a while. But it is amusing.

It happened while talking to an old friend about my book, The Asian Influence on Hollywood Action Films. This was a friend I can still remember shooting the breeze with about ninja action movies during junior high lunch periods. But now he was all bent out of shape about my book. A once really cool guy was chastising me about concluding that violent Asian action films are actually good for society because they uncover the erroneous nonsense about so much of the anti-media, anti-violence crusades carried on by all the too-tightly-wound do-gooders on the left and the right. These films, I told him, were made in cultures where the media are much more explicit and violent than ours, yet their violent crime rates are miniscule compared to those of the U.S.

“But hasn’t all the research proved…?” he said.

No, actually it hasn’t.

But my friend, a new father, is now a devout reader of the works of those tireless protectors of America’s hearts and souls and impressionable kids, the Parents Television Council. “This organization quotes all the great studies showing all the correlations between media violence and crime and sexually explicit TV and pregnant teens…”

Which, I needed to explain, was just about proof that the people running this bottom-feeding organization must never have passed an introductory-level research class in college. Anyone arguing that correlations prove causality could certainly never pass my research methods class at St. Peter’s College. “Correlation does not prove causality” is a mantra that every beginner-level student should be able to recite if kicked out of bed in the middle of the night. (An increase in the number of storks nesting in a town as the number of newborns increases is a correlation too) So, no, if your once-sweet little baby girl is turning into a nonstop nymphomaniac while addicted to Sex in the City, it does not mean that S.I.T.C. caused the little angel to go astray.

Nevertheless, throughout the rest of my stay at my friend’s house, I continued feeling kind of unwanted.


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