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Impact of Violent Movies on Children’s Behaviors

Jan 23, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jan 23, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

The effect of violent movies in the behavior of the children is not well understood. There exists a wide range of information related to the effect of violent movies on the children’s behaviors. This paper will evaluate some of the existing articles related to violence in movies and their impact on children’s behaviors. Some of the articles that will be considered for this discussion include the “Unnatural killer” by John Grisham, “Memo” to John Grisham by Oliver Stone, “Violent Films Cry ‘Fire’” “In Crowded Theater”, “Violent Media is Good for Kids”, article by Gerard Jones and “The Wrong Way to Talk About Violence in Movies.” The review of these articles will offer us greater insights regarding the impact of violence in movies on children’s behaviors. The essay, will demonstrate that violent movies are not wholly associated with negative outcomes on children, but can also have positive consequences.

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John Grisham in his article titled, Unnatural killers, says that that the producers of movies and the actors should take responsibility of the aftermath effects of the movies on children. Grisham’s arguments are drawn from the links that exist between the murder in Hernando, Mississippi and others that took place in Louisiana and Ponchatoula, two towns connected by interstate. Grisham blames his critique Oliver Stone for the death of his friend. He further calls for the public to boycott extra violent movies like Natural Born Killers. Grisham argues that violent video games and movies could very well influence the developing mind of an uneducated child. Responsibility is a necessity and we must reap what we sow. Grisham is clear in his work that the murders of both Patsy Byers and bill savage between March 7-8, 1995. In the article Unnatural killers, Bill Savage an eighteen years old young man, murders Benjamin Darras, secretly, (Grisham, 1996). However, through a tape recording the murder of Patsy Byers is revealed. Further, a tape recording later revealed that a woman by the name Sarah Edmonson was behind his murder. The two murderers had a relationship involvement with one another as the public came to reveal later.

During the trial, Sarah’s lawyer testified against Ben and admitted that the young boy committed murder due to the violent movie he and his friend had watched on March 6. The movie had unique episodes of murder. In addition, the murders in the movie walked scot-free and even revealed to the public the excitement they got form killing others. The movie, Natural Born Killers, revolved around two young men who killed people as they drove towards South West of the country. The two killers became more popular for their actions (Grisham, 1996). Moreover, rambled happily down the highway gaining fame as days went by. Consequently, Ben also adopted the style of speaking openly about killing people as well as committing the actual act of murder. Actually, Ben was ever anxious about killing someone. Ben loved Natural Born Killers, most of the time he would talk of killing someone randomly just like Mickey Spoke to Malloy in the movie. He even spoke of walking into a village farmhouse capturing all its occupants and killing them and moving to the next doing the same thing. Ben is said to have sneered and laughed a lot when he killed anyone, just like the murderers in the movie. Sarah’s lawyer testified how Ben shot and consequently killed Bill Savage. Ben went further to press Sarah repeatedly to also participate in killing someone herself to gain popularity. Grisham is of the view that the movie is the main reason the murders took place. Even though, Grisham tells the reader of the other factors in the case he brushes them under the carpet to make sure that Natural Born Killers is displayed as the reason the crimes took place.

In conclusion, the movie, Natural Born Killers is fully to blame for the violent and murder acts that spoilt Ben’s life. The two teens, Ben and Sarah had no records of violence throughout their lives before watching the movie. Movies that make fun of murder and portray it as if it makes an individual a hero should face legal restrictions. Just by its title, Natural Born Killers influences the human mind to think that being a killer is an inborn character. The more a child is exposed to this kind of movies the high likely they will assume that violent is the solution to every challenge in life. Children therefore, need not to be exposed to such films.

Memo to John Grisham by Oliver Stone

In response to John Grisham’s conclusions, Oliver Stone criticizes the manner in which Grisham concluded that, it is the movie that triggered killing instincts in Ben and her girlfriend, Sarah. Stone laments on Grisham’s comments his movie, Natural Born Killers that inspired the two teens to kill. Stone goes ahead to give his reasons that could probably have led Ben and Sarah to commit the violent acts (Oliver, 2011). In his memo to Grisham, Stone made it clear that the two teens had had various cases of drug and substance abuse that could have caused the ill they committed. Stone’s memo even stated that the two teens had at some point attracted attention of psychiatrist due to psychological effects of drug and substance abuse they went through. Despite Stone’s arguments, it is easy to ask why the two had never committed any act of murder before. The vice only came to their mind after accessing a movie portrayed murders. It was evident that the murder that Ben and Sarah committed came after two to three days after watching the movie, Natural Born Killers.

Furthermore, Stone argues that Sarah had been walking form one place to the other with a gun. The reason behind arming herself with the gun was to protect herself against her purported violent boyfriend. Stone also claims that Sarah and Ben had involved themselves in the act of hurting one another. Ben, for instance, to have had a history of drug abuse and psychiatric treatment. He was a school dropout. Consequently, the killing of Bill Savage and Byers Patsy were acts of externalizing their already existing anger. In addition, Stone makes it clear that the acts of violence that engulfed Ben’s family due to his alcoholic father could also have contributed to his rage (Oliver, 2011). His father also divorced his mother twice before committing suicide. This means that his father had a history of psychiatric issues that also affected Ben’s upbringing. Whichever movie they watched previous night before killing could not deter them from committing the acts. It is also clear that millions of people worldwide had accessed the movie, Natural Born Killers and subsequently watched it. However, there are no other related cases of murder resulting from watching the film.

Violent Films Cry “Fire” In Crowded Theater

Violent Films Cry “Fire” In Crowded Theater is another journal that links watching movies to acts of violence. This brings us back to Grisham’s argument that violent films promote violent behavior. The article presents many situations in which movies have influenced the audience to either cause violence or commit acts of murder. The article questions the role that guns play in media, as well as the role they have in influencing real life violence.

There are reports that James Holmes violent crime behavior is drawn from watching violent films. For instance, when he killed twelve people and injured seventy others, Holmes character is said to have been influenced by the film, Dark Knight. When committing the act Holmes’s face was hidden behind a gas mask, and was costumed from head to toe in a police-style helmet, black cargo pants and black vest. He is said to have an unbelievable sight, standing at the front of a theater where a Batman movie was playing, that some members of the audience thought he was part of the show. He then started shooting randomly at the audience. This connection is an indication that violent films can in one way or the other influence one towards coming acts of violence or murder.

Research also reveals that the gun-show imagery that children see on screens has huge influence on their behaviors. Arline Kaplan in her article suggests that violence in films and television distorts the reality in children. A 2002 report by the US Secret Service and the US Department of Education, which examined 37 incidents of targeted school shootings and school attacks from 1974 to 2000 in this country, found that over half of the attackers demonstrated some interest in violence through movies, video games, books, and other media. Further, a Policy Statement on Media Violence by the American Pediatric Association in 2009 suggested that there exists evidence indicating that film violence can contribute to aggressive behavior (Kaplan, 2012). Those who view excessive violence tend to behave violently compared to those who watch other dramatic movies. Violent Films Cry “Fire” In Crowded Theater therefore, suggests that parents and guardians should take lead role towards guiding their children on the appropriate materials to watch. Parents and guardians should also advise the governments about what content should be accessible to children. This is different from the current rating system of films since the parents themselves are involved in choosing what films children can access.

Coupled with all the negativities associated with violent media to children, such films are said to be good for children. According to Violent Media is Good for Kids article by Gerard Jones, violent video games, movies and books does not only cause mayhem, but can also offer emotional and developmental help to viewers, especially children. Jones holds an opinion that violent movies not only enable children to understand how to go about tough times of their life, but also helps them to develop selfhood. He argues that when parents deny their children access to violent movies, the children are not likely to grow a health sense of morality. In addition, violent video games and movies help children connect with their inner rage, fantasies, as well as gaining self-confidence. Those parents who shelter their children against violent movies cause them great harm because they go against their selfhood and power. Moreover, children who master violent tactics in movies end up using such opportunities putting themselves in the victim’s shoes hence attached their emotions to the victim. Consequently, such stories relieve them of anger and acts of violence. Being so young, small, and powerless, fantasies of having superhuman powers enable children to conquer feelings of powerlessness and being small. They achieve this by pretending to possess superhuman powers. It would therefore be important to have children when they attain a certain age be exposed to such films. Such films build the character of the children with proper guidance of the parent.

The Wrong Way to Talk About Violence in Movies

Harvey Weinstein boasts of producing various violent films that have acquired praises and criticisms in equal measures. His movies notably have reduced crime and violence in the society. He uses the technique to capture the attention of audience, particularly the lessons he puts after every film of violence (Weinstein, 2014). People who attend such movies substitute fictional violence with actual violence acts. In addition, movie attendance between six to midnight reduces the rates of alcohol consumption and drug and substance abuse among the public. It is true that most people who watch violent films are young men who are also the disproportionately engaging in acts of violence. When such young men sit to watch a violent film, they would not commit robberies, hooliganism, vandalism, or murder. At the same time, they reduce alcohol intake, drug, and substance abuse, which are the main ingredients of violence.


The four articles reviewed, reveal their own perspective on violent film and real acts of violence. Grisham is of the view that violent crimes corrupt the mind of children and their audience into committing crimes. Stone on the other hand, is of the view that violent films do not in any way influence crime and the two are not related in any way. Jones has own view, he suggests that children should be exposed to violent films to build their emotions. He says that violent crimes build the way a child will associate with his or her peers and defense tactics if caught in the victim’s shoes. It is therefore, clear that violent movies have both positive and negative impact on children’s behavior. It is therefore upon the regulators and parents to see how they can ensure the children get best from watching violent movies. I am of the opinion that children should not be exposed to violence films. Children have a delicate mind and the way a child is brought up largely influences their character.

Works Cited

Weinstein, H. (2014). The Wrong Way to Talk About Violence in Movies. Journal of Culture: Atlantic Monthly Group. The Atlantic.

Oliver, S. (2011).Memo to John Grisham: What is next? “A Movie Made Me Do It”? Entertainment Weekly.

Grisham, J. (1996).Unnatural killers. Oxford America: www.oxfordamericanmag.com

Jones, G. (2000). Violent Media is good for Kids. Mother Jones.

Kaplan, A. (2012). Violence in the Media: What Effects on Behavior? Psychiatric Times: From the Academy of American Pediatrics.


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