Can Violent Movies Be Dangerous?
Before the 1960s, most movies did not show much graphic violence. When fighting or shooting occurred on the screen, it was clean: Bang! You're dead! The victim fell to the ground and died, perhaps after speaking a few final words. The viewer never saw blood or suffering. But in the late '60s, filmmakers Arthur Penn and Sam Peckinpah began making movies with more graphic violence, such as Bonnie and Clyde and The Wild Bunch. They believed that if audiences could see how truly horrible real violence was, people would be less violent in their own lives.
Today, special effects technology has made it possible to create very realistic images of bloodshed and violence. Steven Prince, author of Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies, describes the difference between early movies and the movies of today "...filmmakers can create any image that they can dream up." So, Prince believes, because of the technology, movies today have become more and more violent and bloody.
Some people are worried that viewing a lot of violence in movies and video games can be dangerous. They feel that it can make violence seem normal and can cause people to imitate the violent behaviour, to do the same thing themselves. Other people disagree. They believe that showing violence is honest and can even be helpful.
One popular filmmaker asks why violent images on the screen are a problem since we live in such a violent world. "Just open any newspaper," he says. "Any newspaper is much more violent. And those are true stories about what happens in real life."