I love going to the movies! A good movie can be just what the doctor ordered. There is a reason Jesus told stories; they pull us away from where we are, tweek our thinking, then send us back to our world a bit different. And different in a positive way, hopefully. But what if the movie is dark, spiritually – or if it desensitizes us to violence or human life? Are we better off after having watched it? Are we different? Of course we are.

Hollywood has the best of video and computer technology and animation at their disposal as they produce unbelievably powerful cinema these days. Movies pack a powerful message and deeply effect us emotionally, even physically and certainly psychologically. Movies can made you cry and movies can make you angry. For those already unstable, movies can either help or hurt. Worse yet, the unseen spiritual forces don’t just sit back and watch. Their work is enhanced. As I said in my previous post on this shooting, the devil and darkness are real, and Hollywood rolls out the red carpet for these foul spirits to have full access to this generation.

I’ve been in some conversations since the Batman theatre shooting in Colorado a few days ago about whether or not Hollywood simply reflects culture, or if it influences it. My contention is it influences far far more than it reflects. If we can change Hollywood, we can change America as arts and entertainment are among the main aspects of our culture. It’s one of the seven mountains or spheres of any society.

Other reputable professions such as journalism and law have stated codes of ethics by which they are self-governed. It’s time for Hollywood to put forth a code they will commit to abide by. Those who have been entrusted with much, much is required. Despite the massacre, Hollywood still made $162 million on the The Dark Knight Rises movie this past opening weekend. What if Hollywood said– we are committed to using the riches and resources at our disposal to better society– we decry violence and won’t glorify it – we decry the exploitation of women and won’t participate in it even if it’s true that sex sells. Those who say there is no connection between the violence on the screen and the violence we saw off the screen in that Colorado theatre need then to explain why watching porn is somehow different as we know porn and sex crimes are inseparable. If we are not influenced by what we see, why do companies spend billions on advertising? It’s time Hollywood set themselves apart from the porn industry which we all know has no code of ethics.

A friend of my commented; did you notice the people in the theater commented how at first they didn’t realize what was going on because it was no different than what was on the movie screen?

“More than 500,000 studies, capped by the latest Dartmouth University study, show that violence in the media influences susceptible youths to commit violence.” (“Who’s to Blame for Colorado Theater Shooting“)

A trigger is a small device that releases a spring lever that fires a gun. It’s also a word we use for an event or cause that precipitates another event. My view is there were multiple triggers that preceded the theater shooters first shot. I’m taking aim at one of them: violence on the big screen as a trigger for violence by desensitizing society to it. Batman director Christopher Nolan pulled this trigger again when he chose not to tone this Batman movie down after what the last one did to Heath Ledger. This statement from Nolan two days ago reads quite hollow to me:

“The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.”

Innocent and hopeful” is not the tone and atmosphere he created in that theatre. He put unbearably savage on the screen and then acts appalled. Whatever.

Others in Hollywood like Jason Alexander are writing eloquently lecturing us about assault rifle bans and more gun control but no mention of their own complicity. And as a friend of mine pointed out: each of these people are themselves surrounded by personal armed security. If police and military protection are enough for us, why aren’t they enough for them? I know, they are celebrities and people stalk them. So what. The rest of us get into a zillion different kinds of vulnerable situations too.

So now we’ll ignore Hollywood’s complicity in these acts of violence and talk again about the evils of assault rifles. Timothy McVeigh used a fertilizer bomb. We need to look closer at Switzerland and ask why in a population of six million, there are two million privately own guns and assault rifles and there is no crime to speak of. The government arms the citizens, trains them in gun safety and requires guns and ammo be kept in the homes of citizens. It’s not entirely apples to apples to compare us to them as they have no military. But there is the point precisely: apparently police and military aren’t enough. One armed person in that theater would have been able to ensure the madman fired fewer rounds. Gun-free zones are dangerous places. Criminals could care less what are guns laws are – we help them do what they intend to do when we disarm citizens.

But, back to the movie. Hopefully my prolific and insightful cousin, Nancy Peske-Darrow will chime in here on the comments of this post. She is the author of a series of books called Cinematherapy – The Girls Guide to the Best Movie Medicine Ever Made. She sold that series to the WE channel and they created a prime-time series based on her books. Only with slight exaggeration I’d say Nancy has seen every movie ever made and has written extensively on movies as medicine, anti-anxiety movies, give peace a chance movies, movies for every mood, etc., etc. She will perhaps disagree but it would seem to me the whole premise of these books supports my point here that movies do greatly influence thinking, feeling and behavior either for good or for bad. Maybe it’s time for a Cinematherapy Guide to Movies that Make America Worse or Cinematherapy for the Sick in the Head with bold disclaimers: Warning: You’ll Need Therapy If You Go To This Cinema. 

Earlier posts from me on this topic: Twilight is a Welcome Mat for the Demonic; and The Dark Knight Arose Alright.