Do violent movies reduce real-life aggression?

No.Picture sitting in a movie theater, prepared for two hours of entertainment, and suddenly becoming a witness to acts of cruelty and torment so unspeakable that it’s hard to imagine people paying to see them. Oddly enough, to millions of Americans, this sounds like a good time.

Much to the chagrin of conservative filmgoers everywhere, movies like Hostel, the Saw series and the rest of the so-called “torture porn” subgenre still manage to draw audiences. According to, the four Saw movies have earned nearly $300 million in the United States alone.

Although the potentially harmful effects these films could have on viewers – including the possible instigation of actual crimes – have long been a heated topic of discussion, a new study reveals an alternative prospect, according to an article originally printed in The New York Times.

At a recent meeting of the American Economic Association in New Orleans, a pair of researchers claimed that ultra-violent films may actually prevent real-life incidents by providing potential criminals with an outlet for their rage. Rather than going out and hurting someone, these individuals gather in theaters, vicariously experiencing the violence depicted on screen.

These films allegedly serve as an outlet for people with a proclivity for destruction. On the surface, this claim makes sense, yet I question the degree of influence that films have on viewers. This study assumes that films possess so much power of suggestion that they can compel people to become more or less violent, a perspective of which I have never been a big proponent. Rather, I believe that individuals who are disturbed enough to resort to violence have far deeper issues than any film could ever impress on them. Furthermore, I am not entirely convinced that viewing a film as brutal as Hostel or The Hills Have Eyes is enough to slake the bloodlust of potentially violent people. If they have the desire to inflict harm, I doubt that a movie could assuage them.

I don’t intend to sound cliché, but it all circles back to parenting.

With the exception of small children, viewers understand perfectly well that what is depicted on screen is staged and has no connection to real life. If, for whatever, reason their sense of morality is skewed, the blame belongs to whomever raised them, since the ability to refrain from violence should have been instilled in early childhood. It’s ludicrous to blame some movie for inciting violent behavior.

Films like Saw and its ilk deliver shock thrills, and while some of the people who seek out this type of entertainment may go on to commit violent crimes, this has nothing to do with the influence of the films.

Instead, the apparent connection must result from the fact that these films attract people who already have a proclivity for violence.

Viewing a movie – even an extremely violent one – will not drive a person to deadly lengths of self-expression, nor can it prevent a violent act. Researchers should instead focus on more worthy areas of exploration. – Robert Yaniz Jr.

Yes.I’m an avid movie watcher. I love going to the theater, spending $19 on a ticket, popcorn, soda and an uncomfortable chair. Most importantly, I love movies that get my adrenaline pumping – movies like 300,in which fight scenes throughout kept me wanting more. What can I say? I’m addicted to the juice. Movies such as Hostel also provide gripping, thrilling entertainment. Like a train wreck – no matter how gruesome a scene may be – it’s nearly impossible to look away. These movies are successful at the box office and make money by getting viewers’ endorphins flowing.

Researchers have been tinkering with a theory that watching movies like these can be a positive influence on some people, which is in direct opposition to previous expert opinions. The idea is that these films provide a way for otherwise violent individuals to vent their rage. By doing this, feelings of aggression are dissipated, and such people no longer feel the need to go out and attach somebody’s foot to a bear trap. I’m inclined to agree with this theory, mostly because people crazy enough to kill others are never at the movies – they are in their basements plotting an evil scheme. And, I’ve never been threatened with violence after seeing an intense movie.

Movies such as 300 and Hostel give people an adrenaline rush. People who enjoy these types of movies have a certain appreciation for the intense, anxious roller-coaster ride the brutal action provides. People chase that feeling in many different ways, such as shooting people in a game of paintball, playing violent video games or my personal favorite – skydiving. For some, it’s an addiction. People get a little and they want more.

I think many people who commit violent acts are addicted to the rush they get and the violent control they experience. Many people who have committed repeated acts of violence have claimed, in court or interviews, that they became addicted. Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer are people who got a rush from the horrible acts they committed. If paying $7.50 is enough for some people to be deterred from harming others, then this idea could be on the right track.

Now, I’m not sold on this theory being foolproof. No theories are – that’s why they’re theories. If some people are unstable enough to go out and commit acts of violence, watching a movie is unlikely to deter them. But I can understand the logic behind the theory, and why hundreds of thousands of people can enjoy violent movies without turning into mass murderers. – Joe Rienzi