Mind the Gap

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Our blogs are platforms from which we share our experiences, opinions, and views with the online world. For Mind the Gap challenges, we want to hear what you think about a divisive issue. Each challenge will include a poll where you can cast your vote along with your fellow Daily Post participants. After you vote, tell us more about how you feel by expanding on the topic in a blog post. Be sure to visit other participants’ posts to get some healthy discussion going.

To participate, tag your posts with DPchallenge and leave a link to your post in the comments. Please be sure your post has been specifically written in response to this challenge; obvious attempts to link-bait will be deleted. We’ll keep an eye on the tag and highlight some of our favorites on Freshly Pressed each Friday.


For as long as movies have included scenes of violence, people have asked if there are any ill or lasting effects of having been exposed to said — albeit fictional – violence. When tragedies happen in the real world because of the violent deeds of a particular individual, the shock and horror that this happened very soon leads to trying to unravel the reason behind how it came to pass. For some, the violence seen in films is taken as a catalyst or the inspiration for disturbing acts of violence in the real world. For others, blaming film violence for real life tragedies is cutting corners at best and scapegoating at worst — an effort to pin complex social or psychological issues on an enemy that can’t fight back.

However you feel about violence in movies, or however strong the emotions you might have in connection to real world violent tragedies, take a moment to think about whether you believe one to be related to the other. Would famous killers have been inspired to their horrific deeds if cinema never existed? Yes, say some. Mark Chapman, who shot John Lennon, claimed to have been inspired by Catcher in the Rye, for instance. A book not known for its violence. No, say others. Sometimes all an unbalanced person needs is a final nudge in the wrong direction from grizzly images that appeal to the baser part of themselves. Maybe, say a third camp, but if we try to protect ourselves from everything that might possibly inspire a psychopath to action, we’ll quickly find ourselves living in a police state.

This week’s Mind the Gap: Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world? Take the poll (below) and then explain your opinion by blogging about it on your site. Tag your post “DPchallenge,” so that we can be sure to find your contribution to the challenge.

Image based on “Bloody Me“, by Geoffrey Fairchild, CC-BY-2.0.

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  1. I think violence anywhere especially in movies create an attachment that often lead to practice. Few but not all children’s are copy cats. The ones that have really violent nature will copy what they see and eventually, put it into practice. They also fixate on the actions in the violent movies.

  2. I believe violent images can desensitize people to violence. The more blood and gore we’re exposed to, the less horrifying it becomes. In some extreme cases it might provoke unstable individuals to violent acts, but I believe these are isolated incidents, and I don’t advocate censorship as a solution.

  3. I would really like another choice. I can’t really write on any of them…I believe it does influence but it’s not so cut and dried…children need to be monitored until they develop the ability to know reality and abnormality…Too much violence early can give them a thwarted view…Diane

    1. Exactly my thoughts. We should censor violent movies from kids and wait until they are old enough to process them. On the other hand, concluding that “violence begets violence, fictional or otherwise” is too sweeping. It doesn’t factor in a good upbringing from caring parents or guardians and the million other factors where an individual develops a sense of right and wrong.

      Maybe let’s just write about that. :)

      1. Do we censor the news, do we stop childen playing war games in the school plsy ground? Children need this exposure, this is how children learn, mature and grow. I knew this family whose 10 year old girl had never experienced death in any for, so when her grandmother who she wasn’t really close to died, this poor girl stared having nightmares, wetting the bed, became withdrawn, shown signs of regression and ended under the care of a psychologist. in the his report he stated that the lack of exposure to the ‘real’ world has not allowed her mind to grow with her body. Children must be exposed to the real world of violence or death to a degree to help make sense of the world around them.

      2. You can expose them gradually. Don’t show rated R movies to your four-year-olds. Not saying never introduce kids to death, or war, or the idea of crime. But you can pick your language and your visuals to be age-appropriate, to be adjusted gradually as they mature. And always be there for them to explain in case they have questions or you hear something they hear that needs to be clarified. Even news on TV that report crimes don’t show split skulls and exploded brains in high definition at prime time. Even TV shows have “Parental Guidance” advisories in the beginning when needed.

      3. So do we stop 4 year olds watching Tom & Jerry, Tweety Pie & Sylvester to name two. Most 5 year olds like Power Rangers its good against evil. I work part time in primary school and one playtime I saw a few boys, 7 year old white Scottish boys with their school jerseys tied around their heads, when I approached them and asked them what they playing and why their jersey on their heads? The reply came “They are not jerseys we are Al Qaeda and we are fighting them who are British soldiers”
        No tell me if I am wrong, where would 7 year old children get that sort of knowledge, from watching films? no, because I now the parents of these children and they wouldn’t allow it, from the cinema? no as they would not allow them in to watch such a movie, what about each other……… childrens imagination, childrens imagination is the most wonderful or most terrifying thing, they conjure up monsters from nothing, they produce things in bedroom cupboards, ghosts from shadows and nightmares from a few misplaced words. So don’t under estimate children and their knowledge of the world, if they can produce a very good keffiyeh from a school jersey and believe me they were very good. So if you think stopping a child watching a film or cartoon with violence will stop childrens imagination, think again, children wre not all sweetness and light, in most tribes from deepest darkest Africa to the jungles of the Amazon children as young as 5 are able to hunt and kill for food, they are all made of the same stuff and its not sugar, candy, sweetness and light. :D

  4. Great topic. I hate things that society tries to make cut and dry. Violence is a part of life that many of us will deal with. It doesn’t have to be redefined every time it occurs though. There isn’t a solution.

  5. I’m putting my thoughts together, but I am of the opinion that people only maniifest themselves. A merciful person will be spurred to have mercy with scenes of violence, while an agressive person will begin to exhibit agression. Vengeful people don’t even need a movie to carry out their vengeance while forgiving fellows would be moved to tears and spurred to positive action at the slightest news of violence.every individual is responsible for his or her own action.

    1. I immediately thought, couldn’t a violent act be merciful or considered a positive action? Not everyone is mentally capable of being responsible for their own actions. When they aren’t, however; it doesn’t mean the stimulus is at fault.

      1. You presented your opinion in such an interesting way. I think I should say that you are right. The stimulus only exposes what is inside. People always manifest who they are, whatever the stimulus…

  6. As Tammy mentioned, I was also surprised to see majority (like me) has the similar view that “crazy people will always find something to inspire them.” BTW Many thanks for the challenge.

  7. So excited to blog on this. I don’t usually participate in Mind the Gap because I think there is more than enough debate and division and random opining going on these days. But THIS one is very close to my heart – I stopped supporting violent movies decades ago and look forward to….opining!!

    1. I enjoyed reading your submission but don’t quite agree with your take on desensitization to violence. I gradually become more and more desensitized to movie violence, and video game violence as my level of exposure to those forms of violence increases. I have no detachment from reality issues, therefore, I am able to process the images as fictional and it does not perceptibly skew my level of tolerance to real violence. The news media has been desensitizing me to reported violence my whole life. Reported violence is real violence, yet, it still has less effect on me than personally witnessed violence. I have been exposed to far greater amounts of reported violence than any other form. I use that knowledge to limit my intake of that form of violence. If someone were to put a bullet in the head of the guy sitting next to me, I would not shrug it off as commonplace because of desensitization. People are violent. Individually I would say most of us do not want to be. Wanting not to be, however, doesn’t change the facts.

      1. I agree that desensitizing is a gradual process (and perhaps I should state that more clearly in the post). I don’t think that violence happening right in front of someone would trigger a detached response, rather that when it is reported on the news, the majority of the reactions I’ve witnessed either first hand or from a comments section have been head shaking and ‘it’s just a violent world’. I agree that reported violence definitely does have less of an emotional effect on a person than witnessed violence, but I think that constantly hearing about violent activities on the daily news has lead people to expect violence as a norm in today’s world, which is unfortunate. I think expecting to hear about someone being shot or robbed is not only a sign of being desensitized, but also emotional detachment because (to me) it doesn’t seem like some people fully comprehend what it means for someone to die or be attacked in broad daylight. That detachment is evidenced by the kinds of people who think that crime is an unstoppable force. And I should clarify to say that I am commenting from Chicago, “murder capitol” of the country, and perhaps people have more pro-active reactions to violence elsewhere. Also, I agree, individually most of us do not want to be violent.
        Really appreciate your feedback!

  8. To-day’s teen agers/youngsters weak in mind are driven to emotionally react to violences which may be emulating pictures(movies)’fictions, etc.that embeds on their brain for they are rash in actions and not rational.

  9. Well, a sane person, who knows what is right and wrong will understands that fiction is for sake of entertainment only and will not derive any life’s lessons out of it. Crimes are existent in the world ever since existence of Man on earth. So, no point in blaming fiction. Murderers can derive inspiration from any thing and everything around them.

  10. “What your eye perceives is later, in one way or another, translated to your thoughts and in the long run become your actions.”- Psychoanalysts proved that.

  11. Violence in movies, games etc. just lets violence be “normal”. It has a dulling effect. If not, that would mean that there is no teaching effect in movies, books, games, at least not in ones that want you to identify with the hero. Then Berthold Brecht was right and most literature and movies do not work. But experience shows otherwise: after seeing a great movie, we want to be like the protagonist – at least for a short while. And with less and less oral boundaries and more and more dulling violence, we will adopt bad behavior as well.

    1. Nice post. I would ask, did you sign up for martial arts classes or did the lingering fantasy of becoming a superhero fade after the 20-30 minutes. If we see uplifting movies, we are filled with ambitions to do good things, treat people better, and call our moms. How many times do we let those feelings pass without positive action? If we say that movies have the power to drive our actions, why aren’t we all in sappy romantic comedies? Again, thanks for the thought provoking post.

      1. I did not end up signing up or those classes. The feeling I get after watching movies really only lasts 20 – 30 minutes. But I completely agree, we should, {and I will make it a goal} act on those good emotions movies bring us :)
        I’m going to watch Pay It Forward and be inspired!

  12. tviolence any where is violence everywhere whether in movies or real life. My junior ones will always yen at me one day i gonna give a neck breaker as randy always do or a stf lock from cena. All this are excepts from wrestling which we adults see’s as entertainment but the their generation see’s it as real

    1. Random thoughts…if I see an old lady being attacked and I intervene on her behalf by physically confronting her assailant, is that not violence? Is it bad? Were law enforcement personnel who used violence to apprehend the Boston bombers acting outside the norms of societal values?
      I get frustrated hearing about stopping the violence and finding solutions. We can impact violence to some degree but we will never eradicate it. Violence in movies is simply a representation of who we are.
      Violence in real life causes violence in movies.

  13. I’ve watched a lot movies, and read a lot of books with violence in them. Some of these books and movies as early as fourth grade. However, I do not consider myself desensitized to violence since I’m still horrified and upset when something violent happens in the real world. When it happens in a book or a movie I’m still horrified! If the other author/director did the job right I should be horrified!

    My response may be because a lot of the violence in the movies and books that I read did not glorify it. I think the disconnect occurs when people treat any form of violence as acceptable, whether it is verbal or physical. That happens everywhere, and I think it happens more in real life than in a film.

    Here is my take:

    1. One area where blame never seems to fall is on societal illusions. People are violent. We don’t want to be, we try to limit it, but there it is; violence. It is part of life that can’t be removed, only impacted to varying degrees. We do ourselves a disservice by pretending its not there, like roaches, only to freak out when the light shines on the problem, reminding us that it’s still there. Part of the fix is parenting. Are we teaching our children to deal with the world we live in, or the one we wish we did?

      1. I totally agree with your view point. Children don’t know social norms. They have to be taught. You tell them, of course, that violence is not acceptable. But their environment might teach them differently.

        Do you prepare them? Which inherently includes that, sometimes under a worthy cause violence is acceptable. There it starts. As always with good intentions.

        When the teenager is in a hormone medley (adolescence, you know) she might find a worthy cause to kick her friend in the face, or worse.

  14. Definitely. I agree that Violence begets violence. But you cannot always protect children and monitor on a continuous basis their movie watching habits. Of course we should keep facilitating good deeds and virtues but we also need to expose them to certain evils as well so that they are well armed in case of any disaster happening to them. Need is of a balanced nurturing to understand the good and demons of the world. Recent example of gang-rape was actually triggered because of the “ordinary man turned super-hero who can fight all evil on his own – inspired by the movie Life of Pi”. Teaching Reality to children when you have numerous cartoon super-heroes fighting baddies can only be possible if we carefully nurture them and let them know that they need not be violent and every battle need not be gory and violent if you have the instinct of when to attack and when to run for life. There should be selective monitored Movie watching & viewing

    1. Violence does not begets violence, if that was true then we cannot have morals. To hurt another human your moral compass has to be so way off that you just do not care. As a child I witnessed real violence every day from my father, now I am not violent, never have been. I believe it’s all in your genes, what suddenly makes a child brought up in a loving and careing environment turn to become a killer, a wife or husband beater, a psychopath. Even though I witnessed violence as a child, learnt to kill in the in the armed forces but I don’t have a violent bone in my body, but that’s not to say that if pushed I won’t defend myself, family or home but thats not violence thats self preservation but thats not to say that the anger I would feel wouldn’t turn to uncontrollable violence where someone may even die. having not been in that situation as a civilian. As being in the armed forces thats different you are designed and moulded to protect and defend by being violent but morally I know the difference and killing someone is very very difficult to do, even pointing a rifle with training blanks in. We all have thought about killing someone, you could kill you boss for instance, kill your neighbour fot all the noise but if you had to look into their eyes and kill a fellow human I bet 90% of you couldn’t those who do either has killed before, have a real reason to kill, mentally unstable or screwed up moral compass. All children know right from wrong and have a good moral compass.

  15. This is not a topic that will ever die, But I am persuaded that the constant parade of disasters and horrific events on the news every day must contribute to desensitizing many people, and also provide ideas to some sick minds. The number of people directly concerned with specific events must be very small compared to the vast(?) majority who have only a passing interest and don’t appreciate being shown the same film shots in news, followed by commentary, followed by opinions etc. But does tend to make them immune to scenes of violence by over-exposure leading to boredom and desensitizing emotion. One may not be directly affected by the scenes, but one CAN begin to regard them as commonplace and almost normal.

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