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Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Everyone's favourite punching bag punches back

I have many problems with this. I always have problems when anybody uses cinema as an excuse to get away with murder. Condescending to apportion only a 'part of the blame' to movies is as useless as a smiley-face. Also, masking your prejudice in nostalgia merely smacks of pessimism and an ugly elitism.

A possibly sane inquiry into media-effects is betrayed by an underlying puritanical prejudice. (A tendency also described here)

Blaming rationalist, libertine, non-religious, show-business, capitalists can give the self-righteous mind quite a bit of satiation and tranquillity. Paternalism is almost always selective and never entails any reflection.

At the end of a lip-smacking, misdirected witch-hunt, one usually has no energy or thinking-time left to see if the real causes have even been identified properly. As a result, shit happens again, and we very promptly reach the twisted conclusion that the last witch-hunt was only inadequate or not severe enough.

Interestingly, political correctness today somehow extends to 'do not call for censorship'. So we need to ferret around for interesting euphemisms like 'self-regulation'. Peer pressure (?) somehow extends to 'let's bring talk of market forces into this' (Egad!). Mate, what the heck do you mean by 'negative publicity'? Don't you know this is show business?

And before you patronisingly talk about 'warped titillation' conjured up by evil pimps and prostitutes to pollute 'impressionable minds', just ask yourself when you saw your first piece of porn, or when you first heard somebody say fuck (or equivalents), or how old were you when you first saw your parents fight. Kids have brains and common-sense, usually, a lot more than they end up with when they have grown old enough to start bullying their own children.

And to answer the question in your title, everybody knows that life is weirder than 'art', while movies try desperately, obviously, and in vain to go one-up on life; and every kid who watches films knows that too.


9:33 pm

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Comments to Everyone's favourite punching bag punches back

Anand, first of all thanks for caring about my post enough to comment :-) (there is my customary smiley). Having read enough of my blog w.r.t. movies in general and the so-calld "censorship" in particular, you must be aware that I have never tried to portray as though there is any explicit or implied "responsibility" of a particular medium to society or what it does. The traditional differences between films and other "non audio-visual" media/creative platforms (excluding TV whose growing influence is a comparitively recent phenomenon) has been larger impact and reach of the former (than say, an art exhibition).

While you may not agree with the "blame-throwing" by criminals themselves when they point to the influence of movies on their acts, yet there have been news reports of a particular technique used in a real-life crime that was copied from a movie (even though nothing "new" may have been invented by the author of the story in portraying the particular act and it was more of a bringing to light certain ingredients that are scientifically proven to exhibit certain properties but which may be shown to be used in an innovative way to carry out a particular crime or mask the evidence) and thus became easy to remember when someone who was about to do a real-life crime was thinking of the ways and means of both doing it and mistakenly believing they can hide the evidence following such technique.

While adults may not be that influenced by such things owing to a whole lot of other life-learnings that may dissuade them from thinking of such copy-cat techniques, it is not so with teens who while thinking of only the ends to be achieved when carrying out a criminal act, desperately look for means to carry it out "efficiently" and thus are far more likely to relate to any situations they may have seen elsewhere that they can apply here without much thought as to the after-effects. The "group-think" in such criminal acts by a bunch of young adults also does not extend beyond the ways and means identified through what was seen and remembered in a high impact audio-visual medium like movies.

For example, there has been hue and cry even in the US over Hollywood's portrayal of cigarette-smoking since a study by some University came to the conclusion that many times such a habit started young among a peer group which thought it was "cool" to imitate a lead actor who is shown smoking. This was due to the sub-consciously recorded erroneous correlation (as conveyed by the storyline) of the protagonist's smartness, ability to get things done and the attractivenes to the opposite sex etc. while carrying on with the act of smoking (or even its associated styles and mannerisms, much as someone in Thamizhnaadu would think of Rajini in the same context).

Regulation is not a bad word and what is called for is nothing more than making sure that some sort of checks and balances are in place for the medium without muffling its voice or drawing boundaries to define what it can and cannot do. Hope that provides some clarity (in spite of my Visu-like ability to compose looooonnngish sentences and scare the hell out of anyone reading my stuff ;-)).

posted by Anonymous thennavan 

12:55 pm, January 07, 2007
 

thennava, you need sex. lots of it. don't 'open websites' till you get it. ok?

posted by Blogger Nilu 

2:20 pm, January 07, 2007
 

LOL!

posted by Anonymous thennavan 

2:59 pm, January 07, 2007
 

mukund,

you can't set fields for bad balls. you shouldn't. you have kind of missed the point if u start making up laws and modifying behaviors to accomadate 'nut cases'. any person who is inspired by movies to commit a crime is a nut case. he wud do the crime even if the concept of movies had never been born.

it is almost like saying - just because the killer wore shoes when he murdered someone, and shoes prevented his foot print from getting tothe hand of the police and also helped him run fast in thorny bushes - shoes are bad for society. neither did he kill because he could offord a shoe nor did he kill because shoe enhanced his getaway prospects.

causality is often misunderstood and often underestimated as something that is easy to understand.

posted by Blogger Hawkeye 

12:35 am, January 08, 2007
 

Bharat, I don't think I meant setting up a field to also accommodate bad balls if you looked at my comment in toto. If the idea of a free-for-all is taken at face value, then even the concept of certifications as they exist in the US would go away. Regulation is more self than forced and I feel with a few studies in the field establishing the definitiveness of impact of this medium, there can be some kind of a system adopted that would minimize the chances of "desensitization" to things (from a target demographics viewpoint) like murder and pain which happens far more when a subject is exposed to such stimuli.
The way cinema is received and perceived by an adult is vastly different than that by teenagers and while all of them don't grow up to be dysfunctional just because of being exposed to negative images, it does not mean that they are not impacted at all.

posted by Anonymous thennavan 

1:36 pm, January 08, 2007
 

Thennavan, there is nothing like half-a-fuck.

posted by Anonymous Suman 

5:36 pm, January 08, 2007
 

Suman, thanks. I learnt something today ;-)

posted by Anonymous thennavan 

8:46 pm, January 08, 2007
 

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