The debate over what role, if any, Hollywood played in the deaths of six California university students echoes similar questions after other school-related killings, says the Christian Science Monitor. After Colorado’s Columbine High School shootings in 1999, questions about the role of violent videogames filled the media analysis. Similar concerns were raised after a lone doctoral student dressed as a villain from a Batman film opened fire in a Colorado movie theater in 2012, killing 12 and wounding 58. This week, the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday wrote of killer Elliot Rodger, “It’s just as clear that his delusions were inflated, if not created, by the entertainment industry he grew up in.” She mentioned the film “Neighbors,” a raunchy look at fraternity life. Director Judd Apatow rejected the notion that films lead people to do terrible things.
Los Angeles forensic psychiatrist Praveen Kambam says, “There are those who say that violence in the media causes the real-world violence, and there are those who say it has absolutely nothing to do with it,” he says, adding that the research comes down in between those two poles. His firm, Broadcast Thought, specializes in analyzing the risk factors that lead to violent behavior. He notes, for instance, that in a recent meta-analysis of 42 studies involving nearly 5,000 participants, psychologists Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman found a statistically significant, small-to-moderate-strength relationship between watching violent media and committing acts of aggression or violence later in life. Statistically, this puts the correlation higher than that between smoking and lung cancer.