What it Means to Blame Violence on Art

http://www.awardsdaily.com/blog/what-it-means-to-blame-violence-on-art/

Above is Ann Hornaday’s video explanation — which needed to be clarified since so many completely missed the point but they did the clicktivism we’re so inclined to do now: have a fit, think rationally about subject later.

An important distinction needs to be made, apparently, since many of the accusations thrown at Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday include the following words, “she’s blaming the shooting on Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen.”

Let’s be very clear. Here are some famous instances in which art was blamed for violence in recent memory, off the top of my head:

The White Album –>Charles Manson murders
Catcher in the Rye –>John Lennon and Ronald Reagan shootings, countless other acts of violence
Taxi Driver —>Ronald Reagan shooting
Marilyn Manson music –> Shooting at Columbine High School
The Dark Knight —>Shooting in Aurora
Newtown, Aurora, Isla Vista —>World of War Craft video game
Old Boy —> Virginia Tech massacre

The list goes on and on and on. What Hornaday was doing WAS NOT “blaming” these childman movies for the shooting – that has been grossly distorted for what ends? What Hornaday wrote about is a much bigger cultural ideology that has all but stamped out women in film overall – women are devalued therefore why wouldn’t any some sick men think they are worth shooting?

That is HER point and it had NOTHING to do with “blaming” the film.

Just so we’re clear.

23 Comment

  1. She STILL didn’t need to mention that movie by name, and proved to be just as irresponsible as Dan Quayle was when he ignorantly cited Murphy Brown in his speech against single mothers- that’s why she’s being derided as a exploititave hack!

  2. “Women are devalued therefore why wouldn’t any man think they are worth shooting?”

    Except he didn’t just kill women, half his victims were actually males.

    Now, here’s another article written by a woman, a bit more thoughtful this time, that reminds us that women aren’t the only victims here, and that our culture doesn’t just oppress women but men also who have to live by unrealistic “rules” and standards when it comes to proving they’re “real men”:

    http://time.com/117585/yes-all-women-virgin-killer-ucsb/

  3. I agree with what she wrote for the most part, but her example to use Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow as examples of her thesis really misses the point. There are countless other examples in entertainment that she could’ve used, but by using Neighbors, that actually does a better job than most frat, college, sex-fueled films of not objectifying women, loses some of the steam in her article. I’m not ignoring her article all together, and I think she has points made, but this is the whole issue. If she actually found more legitimate examples, then maybe this controversy wouldn’t even be spoken of.

  4. she wrote .. “Movies may not reflect reality, but they powerfully condition what we desire, expect and feel we deserve from it.” .. Sorry no rational person gets their sense of entitlement from fiction yet in that sentence alone she argued that men are programed from it. Then went on to cite Apatow movies as examples.. Bin worthy commentary at it’s finest. This much is true. There needs to be a cultural ideology debate and her piece was poorly written..

  5. If she didn’t want people to “misunderstand” her she probably shouldn’t have prominently put Seth Rogen’s picture under a headline that blames movies for the shooting. All too often bloggers want to have it both ways by using sensationalist headlines and then backtracking and saying “well if you read my piece I’m only saying this might maybe be possible if you look at it the right way.” This particular piece cites almost no real facts or studies, its just wild speculation based on pre-existing biases about pop culture.

  6. “Women are devalued therefore why wouldn’t any man think they are worth shooting?”

    well, I would’ve suggested rewording this if I’d seen it sooner.

    Here’s the problem with that phrasing. Why wouldn’t any man think women deserve to be shot? Because most of the men in America and on Earth are not mentally ill.

    I’d be ok with saying that maybe 1% of men of America are screwed up enough to think women deserve to shot. And I’ll agree that 1/100th of that 1% would follow through and act on their sick thoughts.

    That’s hardly “any man” right? Maybe what Sasha meant is that these 1% of scumbags could be anybody and we never know who they are until they snap, but that’s not what the sentence says.

    The sentence suggests that movies teach men that women are so worthless that they deserve to be shot — and that’s just false. Really really false.

    But by all means, let’s look at the horrible reality. Here are some sad shocking facts about male violence against women in America.

    – It’s estimated that 503,485 women are stalked by an intimate partner each year in the United States

    – Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives

    – The American Medical Association estimates that their male partners assault 2 million American women each year.

    – 35% of all emergency room calls are a result of domestic violence.

    – Of those who abuse their partner, well over 65% also physically and/or sexually abuse the children.

    – The FBI reports that 32% of female homicide victims are killed by their intimate partners.

    – 11% of all murders in 1998 were the result of domestic violence.

    – Over 1200 women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in America every year.

    This clearly demonstrates that America has no shortage of very fucked-up men.

    1200 murderous boyfriends out of 138,000,000 men in America every year is repulsive. But it’s .0009 of 1%.

    Thank god that means 137,998,800 men in America are somehow missing the lesson that movies are supposedly teaching us — that women deserve to be shot to death.

    So it seems to me that the movies are actually NOT encouraging men to murder women simply because men don’t see enough strong roles for women in movies.

    Let’s think about movies we all see every year. Don’t we see far more men getting killed in movies than women? So it makes no sense to me that movies are teaching mentally ill men that it’s ok to run out and kill women.

    Violent movies and violent video games teach mentally ill scumbags that it’s ok to kill anybody.

    That’s not because there aren’t enough Oscar-calibre roles for women. It’s because fetishizing gun violence for entertainment is something that devalues ALL human life — and mentally ill men use guns in real life to get attention.

    Mental illness is not caused by movies. A tiny fraction of 1% of men are just dangerously sick individuals. That’s not “any man.”

    It doesn’t help the cause to go overboard and suggest that any man is capable of murdering women. It doesn’t help the cause to suggest that women get murdered because mentally ill men don’t watch enough top-quality women-centric movies.

    Statically speaking, 99.9991% of the most disgusting angry aggressive men who abuse women would draw the line at thinking women deserve to shot down in cold blood.

    In defense of those 137,999,800 decent men in America who do not go around gunning down women because they think they deserve it, I’ll use Editor’s Perogative to change “any man” to “some sick men.”

    That way we don’t make all the decent men in America angry. (You won’t like it when we’re angry.)

  7. “Why is Seth Rogan taking this so personally”? Because she just tried to lay part of the blame of a mass murderer on him, used his picture, and then tried to say “nuh uh”. You’d be pissed too, and rightfully so. Why are women reflexively defending her? She doesn’t deserve it.

  8. Her point is pointless.

    “It’s way easier to blame art than to blame a fundamental lack in mental health, education & gun control.”
    Sarah Silverman

    That’s all.

  9. My Gosh, Fact: IDOL’S EYE will be Olivier Assayas’ best feature to date and maybe the best he’ll ever make.

  10. I guess art doesn’t influence people one way or the other.

  11. I guess art doesn’t influence people one way or the other.

    I think it’s more reasonable to believe that art influences every individual differently and each of us to varying degrees.

  12. Hornaday’s final comment, and whole point I presume is that she wrote this article to point out how Hollywood influenced this person. It’s a fair observation to make that his method (meaning because we seem to see an attempt at stylized movie star cool in the video he posted) that he was emulating what he had learned from the movies. People are influenced by movies in all facets of life. Fashions are dictated by them. People buy products or eat at restaurants that are featured in their favorite films. I see local lawyers and jewellry sellers hawking their wares on television by ripping off some classic film or some classic film technique. You could go on and on. So while it’s a fair observation to make that he was influenced by what he saw in the media – it’s also a weak argument – because everyone is influenced. Most people just don’t express it by shooting people on the street.

    I saw Neighbors. It’s not a great movie, but I remember being impressed by the way the wife’s part was written. She had a primary role in the story. If this movie was made in 1985, she would have been off on the sidelines, maybe occasionally telling her husband to lighten up on the college kids. In this film, she plotted and made bad decisions alongside her husband, and dealt with her own issues and insecurities around being a new mom. Sure, the idea of a chubby guy getting a hot chick is distracting, but there’s no arguing that this was a character with some dimension.

  13. There’s a terrific play by Martin McDonagh called THE PILLOWMAN that deals with the relationship between an artist, the artist’s work, and where the responsibility lays when people cite that work as the basis for doing horrific things. It also touches on mental illness (in typical McDonagh fashion). It doesn’t really touch on issues of male to female violence like what has just happened with Elliot Rodger, but it’s a fantastic look at violence and art.

  14. You are low key trash Sasha.. Not as a human but as a cultural critic.. Seth Rogen is front and center in every single garbage stinkpiece since Hornday’s terrible column.. He shouldn’t be. His movies shouldn’t be.. Yet here we are.. If you can’t see how god awful this is and how this is exactly what Hornaday wanted then shame on you. He was simply and rightfully objecting to be USED in a terrible piece.. smh.. By the way 6 people we’re murdered but tell me more about ‘Neighbors’.. smh..

  15. This is it Sasha! Years of negativity and badmouthing male celebs have finally paid off: you’re being quoted in the French media (well, mentioned on a feminist newsite to be accurate, but it’s not gonnabe long until TV journos pick it up, they love fake and lazy controversies):

    http://www.terrafemina.com/culture/cine/articles/44019-les-films-de-judd-apatow-et-seth-rogen-accuses-davoir-influence-le-tueur-de-santa-barbara.html

    How does it feel to have finally reached worldwide celebrity status?

  16. Doesn’t seem to be all that critical of Sasha’s contribution to the discussion. With the crude help of Google Translate and some common sense adjustments of my own, here’s what I think the last two paragraphs say:

    The attacks on Twitter of Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow in response to Ann Hornaday have sparked a lively discussion on social networks. Some, like the movie blogger Sasha Stone, founder of the site Awards Daily, defended the journalist’s theory. “What Hornaday says, basically, is the poor guys on the sidelines see movies like these, which show little unattractive men in the arms of sexy women, and consequently they feel all the more despised by women or by society,”* she wrote on her website.

    Could Ann Hornaday have simply wanted to indulge in a cheap publicity stunt accusing Hollywood of complicity in the Santa Barbara killings, as Judd Apatow suggests? Though it seems dubious to lay blame for the desperate act of an unhappy young man put on the back of cinema, the platform at least has the merit of questioning the watered-down and sexist vision we often see sold by Hollywood movies.

    Sasha’s actual words: “What Hornaday says is that misfit creeps look to movies like that, unrealistic depictions of unattractive males getting hot women, and feel even more slighted by women or society as a result.”

    Will you help me fix this up in a few places if I need to, Christophe?

    Thanks for the link. Interesting.

  17. It is not being critical of Sasha. I am! But of course the French media in typical liberal fashion eats up whatever Goddess Sasha Stone says!

    The translation is perfect by the way.

    My own point is that women aren’t the only ones being hurt by unrealistic Hollywood depictions. Beside Judd Apatow/Rogen’s fantasy films, which imo. are more an exception than a rule, most Hollywood films/tv shows present unrealistic depictions of what the “perfect man” should be, thus also giving girls really high expectations: prince charming or nothing else.

  18. Whether Hornaday’s intentions were good or bad, whether or not people didn’t read into her points enough, she did not have to bring up Neighbors. She’s smart enough to know that just mentioning the title alongside the tragedy will make some movie goers think twice about watching it. Do I think she’s opportunistic? No. But I don’t blame Rogen or Apatow for voicing their opinions.

  19. I’m going to keep my cool here. I’m a man, a teacher of high school students, a guy who lost his last teaching job because he showed fifteen minutes of the documentary, Miss Representation, to a classroom of kids, an excellent documentary on how the media messes up the portrayals of women over and over again.

    I remember seeing Superbad, written by Rogen and Goldberg, and despising myself as a male due to the horrible portrayal of women I saw in the film. Not one female character did or said anything that a female in real life would. Instead, everything they did and said was the result of two child-men writers’ wishes/hopes/desires of what they wish women would say to them. I cringed as Superbad became a huge hit and watched as many of my male friends declared it the best.movie.ever.

    Now, I’m not saying that the line between Rogen and Santa Barbara is a straight one. That’s a huge leap. But we all know Hollywood and media target 16 -35 year old males in their sights. It’s where the money is. Because the Internet has provided those males with incredibly vivid images of what you can do with a woman absolutely free of charge, Hollywood and general media have had to turn up the heat on the portrayals they hope will make bank at the box office. It’s been over ten years since Superbad, and there have been even worse women roles written by men that are more about shock value than real feelings, and this is partially why newer generations of men can’t figure women out. Wait a minute! Women really don’t parade around the party in their Victoria’s Secret underwear? Hold on! Women don’t always talk sex in conversations with men? Hang on! Not every woman secretly has a longing to kiss other girls? (This is from a scene in Neighbors, where the “well-written role” of the wife still shows a flash of this to her excited husband at the party – just another example of how Rogen gets this stuff into his films and gets a free pass doing it)

    If men are constantly shown these images of women in the box office smash tentpoles that they go see on a weekly basis, then it isn’t too far a stretch to think that this is how they will view women in real life, and the .0009% leap off the deep end, get their weapons with the greatest of ease, and perpetrate these heinous crimes against society (male or female).

    Just an opinion

  20. “Wait a minute! Women really don’t parade around the party in their Victoria’s Secret underwear? Hold on! Women don’t always talk sex in conversations with men? Hang on! Not every woman secretly has a longing to kiss other girls?”

    This all happens in The Social Network at a Phoenix party while Zuckerberg creates FaceMash. Social Network is one of my favorite movies but I’d say that is a bit more dangerous than Neighbors. It shows what happens to a man who is rejected by his date and wants to show off how good he is. Then when he is rejected again at the bar he tells Eduardo, “We have to expand.” Raunchy movies like Neighbors are purely for entertainment and they’re obviously satires. But I have seen women go around in Victoria’s Secret underwear or practically wear nothing to parties and make out with each other, being around a few big college towns have shown me these things, so I’m sure movies like Neighbors isn’t too far off in some cases. But again, it’s a movie. I’ve been watching these comedies long before I was married and I’ll continue to watch them now that I am. The one and only person who should be blamed is the shooter.

  21. Spirithunter, all in all you sound like a pretty cool teacher and I say bullshit you lost your job for showing that film.

  22. In my opinion, at the end of the day, the one, mainly, though not entirely alone, to blame was the culprit himself (in this case).

    However, I would like to learn more about how the system – the authorities, etc. – despite the obvious red flags, somehow, reportedly, failed to prevent […] from happening given that the concerned cops or so, at least allegedly, had already gotten to reach the culprit at his own (parents’ ?) residence or so yet somehow decided not to do the search so that weapons, etc., could possibly have been found and things could have turned the other way round; etc. (It seems, this supposed Asperger guy also allegedly succeeded in misleading the cops to assume he was just a shy guy, who basically also spoke English typically like a Briton rather than the stereotypical, Hollywood-film American Joe on the street [no offense; unlike American readers, I speak ESL myself].) Obviously, quite a complicated case, too.

    My thoughts to all the victims’ family members and friends et al.

  23. Hornaday’s argument seems a bit reckless in its assumptions. For one, Neighbors is a convenient example that she knew would gain attention due to its recent release and successful box office. It’s an opinion piece, so it’s hard to take her examples beyond superficiality and convenience. Especially since there’s no reference to movies Rodger liked or even watched. And one could say that these films influenced his environment, but like choosing one movie to target, it also simplifies an environment to one factor. Racism, income inequality, industry, urban design, etc. etc. all play factors into an environment and can have overlaps (as with racism and income inequality).

    Also, wish fulfillment in storytelling (not just cinema) is centuries old and not exclusive to men. There are plenty of films that have wish fulfillment for women that might also leave them disenchanted about life. Yet, mass shootings are almost exclusively done by men and one man’s motives to target women is hardly indicative of society and does not fit in with other trends within mass shootings. But taking Hornaday’s statement on male wish fulfillment at face value, what has changed in films over the last century to account for the increase and decrease of mass killings? There were plenty sexist, wish-fulfillment films going back to 1940′s film noire. It should also be noted that mass shootings are on a decrease and the past 25 years have had half as many mass killings as the 25 years between 1966 and 1991. So, without examining perhaps a shift in cinematic trends, there’s no correlation to this shooting. Perhaps Sasha has research on this, but I’d say today’s popular films are as sexist as those in previous decades (and probably better than many American films in the 1970s). See: Haskell’s From Reverence to Rape.

    I think she’s more on point when she mentions the environment he came from, not the content of the films. There were plenty of realist films before the recent upswing of escapist cinema. Perhaps this is partly due to improvements in CGI and 3D technology that have caught the imagination of viewers, or maybe after 10 years of war, an economic collapse and a broken political system – people just want to enjoy themselves. How they do so and how art represents that is definitely a debatable subject. Escapist cinema is a common trend in the history of cinema during years of war or economic decline.

    Obviously, as Sasha mentions, you could look at the Rodger’s tragedy as reflective of a society that doesn’t value women. Perhaps we are taking his misogyny too much at face value (though it is naturally troubling) but also consider he may also reflect increased inequality and the structural isolation of California. He seemed spoiled by his environment – nice car, 1st class air travel, etc. And yet, he’s in an environment (much like DC’s political elite or Manhattan), competition is fierce and a classist sense of entitlement divides elites even between themselves. If it wasn’t being “denied sex” now, his warped attitude would have latched onto something else he was denied. Had he had a professional life after college, he might have shot all his co-workers because he felt entitled to success.

    I’m not arguing against the claims of sexism apparent in Rodger (or even in art), which should be discussed, but I think Hornaday reduces complexity to a single narrative and has a hit-and-run argument where she makes a provocative statement and then deflects when her points are challenged.

    And a side note: “The Hollywood-like production value” of Rodger’s videos is a weak statement. Every cell phone camera these days shoots 1080p and uses rather advanced optics from phones only 2 years ago… But I guess there’s a harsh key light from the sunset that makes it cinematic… I don’t buy this argument.

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