Saturday, April 28, 2018

Hollywood Loves Guns


The other day, a self-styled hipster on Facebook told me that a person who keeps a gun in their home for protection is paranoid.  When I explained to him that crime statistics show that home break-ins are a realistic threat (a family member of mine was in fact a victim of a home invasion), this young man responded that he is not the type of person who lives his life in fear.  He clarified, in case I didn't understand his previous comment, that people who worry about home break-ins are mentally ill.  School shootings are far rarer than home break-ins, but his entire anti-gun position is based on his fear of school shootings.  Isn't he living his life in fear?  It doesn't make a person paranoid to buy a fire insurance policy for their home.  And a person who has a fire insurance policy isn't a person who lives in fear.  The policy is something that makes a person sleep better at night. 

Meanwhile, the same people who are upset with gun owners find great pleasure in watching people get shot up in movies and television shows.  Guns represent empowerment in Hollywood entertainment.  I asked Spotify to play the Fifth Dimension.  You know the Fifth Dimension, right?  Aquarius.  Up, Up and Away.  Spotify played a rap group called Fifth Dimension.  This what I got to hear. 

Good Girls, a new television series, takes a fond look at a group of women who take up guns to rob a bank.

See, guns are female empowerment. 


Hollywood filmmakers insist that the constant gun violence in their films has no influence on the gun violence that we see so often in the real world.  Our culture is very much shaped by movies, television shows and music, which hold up role models, define our moral behavior and, most of all, manipulate our emotions.  We are fooling ourselves if we deny this obvious fact.

Fictional narratives, which arouse deep emotions in people, have a strong persuasive effect.  Fictional narratives change beliefs, alter culture and affect human behavior.  Markus Appel and Tobias Richter, psychology professors at the University of Cologne, have conducted extensive research on this subject.  They came to the following conclusion with their study "Persuasive Effects of Fictional Narratives Increase Over Time":
Fictional narratives conveyed by books, movies, and — perhaps most importantly — television programs play an important part in everyday life and, therefore, in the socialization of children, adolescents, and adults.  This study suggests that fictional narratives can have a persistent implicit influence on the way we view the world, and that these effects may last longer than the effects of typical explicit attempts to change beliefs by presenting claims and arguments.  Apart from the unintended consequences this instance might have, fictional narratives are a powerful educational tool that on the one hand may be used in a planned and reasonable way to change beliefs and behavior concerning existential topics such as HIV or school education (Singhal et al., 2004).  On the other hand, applied fictional persuasion also includes the marketing of political ideas and products in television soap operas without viewers’ awareness (e.g., Lilienthal, 2005) and similar phenomena.
People were convinced from watching The Shape of Water that having sex with a fish was a good idea.  We know this because, according to the sex toy company XenoCat Artifacts, a number of people rushed to purchase the company's fish dildo to recreate in the real world the fishy sex that occurs in the film's fantasy world.  If a film can stimulate a man or woman to have a sexual desire for a fish, then a film can convince people of anything.  People who saw The Blank Panther have attempted to purchase airline tickets to the nonexistent Wakanda.

I have become convinced after writing a number of articles on the violence in mass media that a steady diet of violent films can bring about emotional and behavioral problems.  The shooters tread a fine line between fantasy and reality.  To them, their name in headlines is like star billing in a blockbuster action film.  


  1. Hi Anthony,

    I tried to send you an email at the address listed on your profile. Is there a better email address for me to use to get in touch?

    Thanks! Andy

  2. Andy, my email address is