I can just see Eli Roth grinning ear to ear about this news (you can too, look at the photo). I've never agreed with claims that violent movies influence violent behavior, but I also don't imagine violent movies are necessarily good for people who already have violent tendencies. Yet a new study argues that violent movies do in fact help to lower crime rates. According to the New York Times, a research paper was just presented to the American Economic Association concluding that "would-be assailants" choose to go see violent movies instead of performing violent acts themselves. That's right, murderers, rapists, muggers and the like apparently get their rocks off by watching actors perform their favorite bad deeds. Then, not only have they been kept out of trouble for two hours; they are also satisfied for days afterward. The reasoning behind this conclusion is based on data that shows crime rates are way down on weekends when a new violent movie is in theaters, and they stay down for a good period of time beyond that opening weekend.

That could be a neat coincidence. But how does the study indicate that the "would-be assailants" are actually part of that movie's audience? It seems a little too easy to think that violent people are pacified by violent movies. Attracted to them? Sure. Influenced by them? It can be argued. Subdued by them? I doubt it. At least not most of them, anyway. One of the economists who wrote the paper, Professor Gordon Dahl, pointed out that young men attending a movie have chosen that activity over drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs, either of which might have led to violent acts. He went on, however, to argue that Hollywood should actually be making less violent movies that still have the same appeal ... such as Adam Sandler movies over gory horror movies. The New York Times makes sure to let us know that Dahl is in fact a Mormon who doesn't allow his kids to watch violent movies; he even just bought one of those DVD players that cuts out offensive content. I have to agree with Melissa Henson of the Parents Television Council and say that this is one of the goofiest studies I've read about in a long time.

[via Fark.com]
categories Movies, Cinematical