Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday went too far this weekend in her article that attempted to link the insane acts of mass-murderer Elliot Rodger to the “the toxic double helix of insecurity and entitlement that comprises Hollywood’s DNA.” She blamed “white men” for creating “a sexist movie monoculture”. She blamed Judd Apatow and the hit Seth Rogen movie Neighbors for fueling the sexual desires of young collegians asking “How many men, raised on a steady diet of Judd Apatow comedies in which the shlubby arrested adolescent always gets the girl, find that those happy endings constantly elude them and conclude, ‘It’s not fair’?”
Hornaday “clarified” her position after a barrage of criticism from social media writing that “Movies aren’t accurate reflections of real life, as I wrote in the essay. But there’s no doubt they powerfully condition what we desire and feel we deserve from it.”
After the all too frequent rampages by maniacs like Elliot Rodger; focus is invariably placed on the influence of violent and sexually aggressive cultural influences from film, video games and music. Video games such as Call of Duty are blamed or the Marilyn Manson for the Columbine tragedy. In the 60’s mundane TV sitcoms like Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best were cited as contributing to riots in Los Angeles; the argument being that Black youths were reacting out of frustration because their broken homes were so different than the idyllic Cleaver and Anderson families. This is reminiscent of other equally absurd theories about the violent tendencies that were said to be inculcated in youths by the hundreds violent acts committed by Warner Brothers’ cartoon characters or by members of TV’s “A” Team that have no real consequences. Wiley Coyote is blown up and flattened numerous times in a seven minute episode but always returns to pursue the Roadrunner. Hannibal Smith and Mr “T” create mass mayhem discharging hundreds of rounds, destroying numerous vehicles; but no one is ever seriously hurt. Over the last 40 years, countless academic studies on the effects of TV film and video game violence have all failed to produce definitive evidence that games TV and film have any measurable effect on violent behavior.
Other research, reviewing much more sexually explicit material than the sophomoric fantasies of Apatow or earlier sex farces such as Revenge of the Nerds or Animal House have found little connection between hard core pornography and sex crimes.
But we continue to search in vain for reasons behind these mindless violent acts.