Does Hollywood or other media contribute to gun violence?
Gun violence in the 21st century: what a loaded topic to discuss (no pun intended). Shall we begin by blamestorming? Surely we must have a scapegoat available; isn’t that how this society operates? Someone must be held responsible for gaining the public’s approval. The Leftists say it is the object itself that must be controlled while the Right says our constitutional rights prevail. Social media is a firestorm of controversy dividing the closest of friends, and the entertainment industry finds itself being scrutinized on every level. Where do the lines blur?
I must say with a resounding “yes” that I believe Hollywood as a whole, along with other forms of media, contribute to gun violence. Please hear me out. I am not saying that we should lay all the blame on film companies and video game developers for incorporating gun violence into their work, but I do believe that they contribute to it.
For example, consider the “Call of Duty” franchise of games. I will admit that as a mother of boys, I allowed them to play this game ad nauseam because they absolutely loved it. Do I have guilt over this? Nothing that keeps me awake at night, no. Had they decided to massacre their classmates, I would feel differently. I am thankful that they view firearms as protection only and not as a bargaining chip to be used if life does not go their way. However, I do feel like it played a small role in desensitizing them to violence and death.
I say small because the type of gun violence depicted in Call of Duty is war-related. Not that it is any less horrific (and in some ways, worse), but the purpose is a noble, worthy cause that must be fought by an organized movement of military strategy. Also, the goal is to save lives, and the death of the opposing group is an unfortunate byproduct. Overall, there is value placed on human life and the greater good. Other games, though, do not promote such a noble cause and simply contain gun violence as a “normal” part of the lifestyle: drug cartels, car theft, prostitution, etc. No value whatsoever is placed on human life, communicating to the player that life is disposable and insignificant.
Regrettably, most of our movies and games glamorize gun violence by making the scenarios mysterious and exciting. This is obviously an attraction and tends to normalize the idea of violence. Picture it with me: the ominous background music prepares us for the moment when the gun-wielding protagonist makes his move and takes out the whole fleet of villains who deserve it. This sounds like the all-American action movie, right? Not to mention the sensationalism of death: the animated collapse, the pool of blood that engulfs the victim as he utters his final cryptic words, gasping for another breath, and ultimately, the look of satisfaction as evil receives its punishment. Again, I am not laying blame on every movie that falls into this category. Sometimes the violence is a legitimate contributing factor to the storyline. Another admission on my end: I love action movies, and I enjoy watching the twists and turns of a movie chock-full of explosions, standoffs, and heroic rescues. It is only when the violence begins to consume the mind that it takes shape in the spirit.
There is also the unfortunate subject of mental illness that we must address in this issue. I am a firm believer that dysfunction in the mind exists, whether it be due to a traumatic life event or cumulative stressors that have caused someone to begin pondering irrational ideas. Drug use and constant exposure to violence on the internet, etc. are also triggers for those prone to mental disturbances (quite frankly, I think given the perfect combination of circumstances, we are all prone to some degree of mental illness). Combine all of this with the irreverence of God in our culture, and we have ushered in an atmosphere where evil can utterly run rampant.
We have the unique perspective as Christians to shed some light on the true crisis of gun violence and, in turn, shift the focus to the One who can completely drown out the noise of all the controversy. I don’t think there is much need to quote statistics regarding gun violence because let’s face it: if you’re not hearing about it on a daily basis, you must be living off the grid and have no interest in society anyway. It goes without saying that we hear of more death by gun violence than ever in the history of this nation. It involves every group of people—civilians, police officers, celebrities, college and high school students, children, veterans, religious, atheistic—the list is long, each case its own heartache.
As cliche as it has become to say ‘Jesus is the answer,’ it is a phrase that has much power because Jesus is the answer! If the world did not suffer from the disease of sin…if human minds, wills, and decisions were processed the way the Father intended from time’s inception, there would be no disregard for human life at the hand of a weapon. We know, however, that these broken human vessels are bound to continue destroying what was intended to be God’s masterpiece. The more we fixate on the things that are not holy, true, and full of freedom, the greater the size of the chasm between human hearts and the Father’s love and, furthermore, the love for ourselves and each other. Closing the gap means turning toward Him in the wreckage of the shattered world in which we live, taking control of our thoughts and actions, working together as human beings-not political parties. May those of us who know the Truth spread it exponentially faster than the blame we cast on each other.
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