Strap Ideas to Your Chest & Load Your Pistols with Words
In a recent interview with Joaquin Phoenix, Popcorn host Peter Travers asked, “Is this movie too violent? Can it make other people violent?” To which Joaquin replied, “According to my research, talking about it is irresponsible […]. There was a vast increase in these particular types of crimes after 1963. And that year, there started an unprecedented amount of news coverage about these crimes. And so, people that commit these crimes—this personality type—they seek personal notoriety, they seek personal recognition. That is what they thrive on.”
Regarding the film’s media controversy, Phoenix added, “I don’t think that that’s helpful, and I understand people feel like they’re being the responsible ones, but I don’t think that’s true. And I think the evidence is to the contrary.”
He concluded by saying, “I don’t think movies influence people that way. I don’t think they cause homicidal ideation […]. The conversation around them can be dangerous.”
Similarly, when Marilyn Manson appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly confronted the artist, challenging him about his possible influence leading up to the Columbine massacre. O’Reilly wondered whether it was possible that “disturbed kids” might interpret his lyrics to mean, “when I’m dead everybody’s going to know me.” To this, Manson responded:
Well, I think that’s a very valid point and I think that it’s a reflection of, not necessarily this programme but of television in general, that if you die and enough people are watching you become a martyr, you become a hero, you become well-known. So when you have these things like Columbine, and you have these kids who are angry and they have something to say and no one’s listening, the media sends a message that says if you do something loud enough and it gets our attention then you will be famous for it. Those kids ended up on the cover of Time magazine twice, the media gave them exactly what they wanted. That’s why I never did any interviews around that time when I was being blamed for it because I didn’t want to contribute to something that I found to be reprehensible.
This flips the discussion on its head: Could talking about the potential ‘danger’ the film (or Manson’s music) poses actually be the real danger? Could it be the lust for fame and recognition and martyrdom, and not a simple case of monkey-see-monkey-do, that inspires these acts of violence? Are all those well-meaning critics unwittingly contributing to the potential for copycats?