Kill Bill Vol. 1 is playing in theaters nationwide, and if you believe what some people have to say about it, it will be the end of Western civilization as we know it.
It has been heralded as “the most violent American movie ever made.” Critics have been lamenting that it is specifically too violent for younger viewers.
Well, excuse me for stating the obvious, but maybe that’s why the movie is called “Kill Bill” and not “Magical White Fluffy Animals That Hug Each Other.”
It is not meant for young viewers, and if parents do not get the hint from the title alone, then there are plenty of other indications for them that are less subtle.
There is, for example, the movie’s rating: R.
The Motion Picture Association of America classifies a movie with this rating as such because it “may include hard language, or tough violence, or nudity within sensual scenes, or drug abuse or other elements, or a combination of some of the above, so that parents are counseled, in advance, to take this advisory rating very seriously.”
More importantly, the MPAA’s Web site also states: “Parents must find out more about an R-rated movie before they allow their teenagers to view it.”
And that right there is the key phrase. It’s one thing to complain about violent content shown on TV as parents argue their children will be exposed to it. Even then, isn’t it the parents responsibility to supervise what their children see and put it into context for them? Blaming TV networks for being a bad influence on children because they are showing violence and sexual content is not the answer. This movie is not as readily accessible because it plays in movie theaters and not on TV sets that are found in nearly every family’s living room and sometimes even in children’s bedrooms (Again, who is to blame for that?). It should be easy enough for parents to ensure that their children do not see it. Yet, there are plenty of parents that take their kids to see such movies.
I distinctly remember a child’s laughter that interrupted Hannibal Lecter’s preparation of a very special meal when I went to see Hannibal, a movie that was equally controversial at the time and also had an R rating.
The problems are not the movies rather in what context they are seen.
Naturally, a movie in which one woman fights hundreds of men with samurai swords is going to be violent. I’d even say that if the movie was not graphic, it would be even worse because it would portray violent behavior in the wrong way. If a steel sword that is less than three-sixteenth of an inch thick hits you, you are going to bleed. It is as simple as that.
Violent movies, or portrayal of violence in art in general, do not create violent behavior all by themselves.By looking at the gun-related deaths in 1994 released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it becomes quite apparent that the problem lies elsewhere. (Regrettably there do not appear to be stats on sword-related deaths.)
In the United States, 14.24 deaths out of 100,000 were gun-related, but in the Netherlands they accounted for only 0.70, even though the Netherlands do not have a rating system for movies. In theory, a Netherlands teenager could legally rent the most violent movies ever made, yet it does not seem to affect their country’s violence statistics.
Japan, origin of the most violent cartoons watched by children and main influence on Kill Bill, has even less at 0.05.
It appears that, aside from gun control, the issue is not what movies are watched but what children and teenagers are taught outside the theaters. As long as teens are taught that violence is not the answer to all problems, movies like Kill Bill can be enjoyed for what they are: entertainment.
Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in environmental science and an Oracle Opinion Editor. email@example.com