(On “Making A Killing” by Mike White, his “NY Times” Op-Ed about movie violence’s connection to real-life violence.)
While I applaud Mike White’s willingness to stand up and take responsibility where others will not, I couldn’t help but feel his myopic viewpoint was misguided. White wrote, “For my friends and me, movies were a big influence on our clothes and our slang, and on how we thought about and spoke to authority figures, our girlfriends and one another. Movies permeated our fantasy lives and our real lives in subtle and profound ways.” I have no doubt this is true – for Mike White and his niche group of film-geek friends. But to conclude that one’s own powerful teenage influences reflect adolescent culture’s in general is misleading. As Mike White himself proves, children whose lives are unduly shaped by cinema grow up to be directors, screenwriters and cinematographers – not serial killers.
Besides, as I’m sure Mr. White knows, Asian countries produce films with higher body counts alongside teenagers with lower rates of violence. It’s noble for Mr. White to suggest to his fellow industry players, “before cashing those big checks, shouldn’t we at least pause to consider what we are saying with our movies about the value of life and the pleasures of mayhem?” But wouldn’t it be more profound to question an industry itself willing to spend half a billion dollars on “Spider-Man 3” while kids are starving in Africa, genocide is taking the teenagers of Sudan? As far as I know, “Oldboy” wasn’t a hit in Darfur.