Bobby Jindal Announces Violent Games/Movies To Blame For All Those Mass Shootings

from the wrong dept

Not long ago, I wrote a post about the aftermath of the Oregon mass shooting and how every media outlet would retreat to familiar stances looking to blame all manner of things on idealogical grounds. That, of course, happened. Left out of that post is how grandstanding politicians would do the same: shifting attention toward familiar punching bags while diverting attention from other targets in their own interests. One of the first to do so, as it turns out, is Bobby Jindal, who certainly doesn’t get any points for originality in trotting out the violent media scapegoat to sate some of the public’s need to place blame for the shooting.

First on his hitlist was Hollywood.

We glorify sick and senseless acts of violence in virtually every element of our pop culture, and we have been doing that for at least a generation. Our movies and TV shows feature a continuous stream of grotesque killing of every kind imaginable. And this is true of virtually every genre, from horror to drama to comedy. We celebrate and document every kind of deviant behavior and we give out awards to producers who can push the envelope as far as possible. Rape, torture, murder, mass murder, all are cinematic achievements.

This, obviously, is overstating things by several orders of magnitude. First, it’s noteworthy that Jindal’s suggestion that violent movies, ever ramping up, cause violence within the real world fly in the face of simple statistical analysis. The national murder rate, for instance, is roughly 60% of what it was in the 1970s. Does anyone want to argue that movies have become less violent since the 70s? I didn’t think so. But, assuming that Jindal is solely talking about the mass shooting phenomenon, the data doesn’t get any better for Jindal. An otherwise dumb opinion piece at National Review at least helpfully included the fact that, when taking the long view and looking at mass shooting incidents over the past century, they are no more common today than in the past. In fact, the high water mark for mass killings looks to have been achieved in the 1920s. Again, anyone want to argue that media in the 20s was more violent than it is today? I didn’t think so.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but none of this is to suggest that America doesn’t have a very real violence and mass killing problem. We do. But it simply doesn’t correlate to violence in movies. Nor in video games, which were Jindal’s second target.

We have generations of young boys who were raised on video games where they compete with other young boys around the country and the world to see who can kill the most humans. We make it so fun, so realistic, so sensational.

Oh, we make sure that we stop them from bullying at school, but we are completely fine with them watching people get murdered and raped on the internet after school, and we are willing to let them go to the basement and join a fantasy world where they pretend they are killing people for 2 hours after school.

Quick show of hands: who is totally chill with their children watching people get murdered and raped on the internet after school every day? Actually, what the hell is Jindal talking about here? I’m fairly connected in the world of internet-ing, and I’m also a father, and I have no idea what Jindal is referring to. Where is this place where kids go to sit and watch people get raped and tortured? Is he referring to video games here, as he does in his culminating line, where kids are sitting down and super-murdering digital humans for 2 hours every day? Because does that really happen, either? Keep in mind, for all the hand-wringing over violent video games, the average age of the average gamer is going up and currently stands at something like “probably balding or in mid-management by now.” For youths that find themselves playing games meant for adults, that’s strictly a parenting issue, not a culture issue (for all the reasons described for violent movies above). And, regardless, there’s nothing even remotely close to a scientific consensus that violent video games have any negative effect on children at all. In fact, many studies indicate there is no link between gaming and violence at all.

So what is this? Well, it’s a politician employing the aftermath of tragedy to gain support, headlines, and attention so as to better compete with a god damned reality show host in a presidential election cycle. And if that doesn’t make you sick, no amount of violence in movies or games will either.

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Comments on “Bobby Jindal Announces Violent Games/Movies To Blame For All Those Mass Shootings”

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65 Comments
Spike (profile) says:

Games don’t dipict cold blooded senseless murder as often as the latest Hollywood-sourced garbage on TV. Despite not believing in the latest blame game by politicians, I’m totally sick and tired of American gun culture and related murders being overly portrayed on American TV shows. Its to the point where I lost all interest in TV, now I just wish my SO would do the same. Any new TV show can’t seem to NOT have senseless killings for no good reasons using guns.

Anonymous Coward says:

I blame politicians for all the mass shootings. If it wasn’t for them running this country into the ground, families would spend less time working and more time raising their kids properly, schools wouldn’t act like mini-prisons, we’d have some actual mental health facilities to deal with people with issues, and wouldn’t be drugging all our kids. Then they wouldn’t have to escape reality so damned often into violent entertainment.

ottermaton (profile) says:

Well done Tim!

Hey Tim,

My apologies for not mentioning this in the comments of the article in question titled “Predictable: The Fragmented Media Will Give Us All Our Post-Oregon-Shooting Outrage Blankets”, but I do want you to know that is one of the most thought provoking and insightful articles I’ve ever read. Not just on TD, but anywhere.

Normally when I see your name attached to an article I expect (and you deliver in spades!) humor and snarky commentary, which didn’t prepare me well for your profound analysis of mass shootings and our ingestion of them.

Just wanted to say “cheers” and keep up the great work!

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Well done Tim!

Normally when I see your name attached to an article I expect (and you deliver in spades!) humor and snarky commentary, which didn’t prepare me well for your profound analysis of mass shootings and our ingestion of them.

The editorial team here at Techdirt is sorry and we will not let Tim get profound, thoughtful and analytical again.

🙂

Wendy Cockcroft says:

Re: Re:

It’s easier to shoot than to stab. Victims have a better chance of fighting back against and surviving a stabbing than a shooting.

Gun culture apologists seem to be working from a paradigm in which the would-be victim has a loaded gun ready to aim and fire the moment they’re attacked. That’s not what happens. No one is going to wait for you to get your gun out and get the safety catch off before they act.

mcinsand (profile) says:

murder rates peaked in the '20s, huh?

What was happening in the ’20s that might have affected murder rates? Could it have coincided with a group using our government to force their ‘moral’ choices on others? Could there possibly be a link between legislating religious ideas on others and violence? It seems like this might be happening elsewhere right now, but I can’t put my finger on it. Something about Russian missiles and us not deciding which side to support.

tom (profile) says:

Even if all of the 26 mass murderers(mentioned here http://www.nationalreview.com/article/335739/facts-about-mass-shootings-john-fund) in the last decade were driven to commit their crimes by the horrors of violent video games, TV shows and movies, that means that approximately 300,000,000 people living in the US were NOT driven to commit mass murder because of watching or participating in violent media.

The real horror is how quickly people on all sides of these debates start spewing out the same old tired well chewed crap each time one of these things happens.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: But that violent video games aren't good is true regardless who says it.

That’s not how a debate works, friend. The person asserting something has the burden of proof. In other words, all is allowed save until an argument against it can be constructed. If violent games had a net-zero benefit, then they should not be banned. A lack of benefit isn’t a reason to exclude.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But that violent video games aren't good is true regardless who says it.

In the same way playing My little Pony: Friendship leads directly to beastiality?

Or reading the bible leads to raping your own daughters, slamming ‘heathen’ babies faces against rocks and burning people alive for wearing more than 1 type of cloth?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Violent video games aren't bad regardless who says it.

Well, for me, murder simulators are a safe sink for anxiety and distraction to depression.

They also help me process my outrage regarding real world issues about which I’m pretty much completely helpless. (TPP, the US mass surveillance program, the CIA extrajudicial detention and interrogation program, our crazy imprecise civilion-massacring drone strike program, our law enforcement services who beat the snot out of people or gun people down and then walk away with impunity and smiles. The list goes on and on.)

We human apes do like to moral panic about anything that someone likes that someone else doesn’t. And that’s what’s going on here.

(And this is, incidentally, why we can’t take seriously when someone says guns are bad: too often we’ve seen other things pointed at as bad because stupid reasons. If people want their panics to be taken more seriously they should point and call things bad less often.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: But that violent video games aren't good is true regardless who says it.

The images in a video game are not people, they’re just very colorful moving pictures. At the most, a player is pretending to delete in a very colorful way, a very colorful moving picture.

Then again, I’m not so deluded enough to try and conflate a video game with real life or even a simulacrum of real life.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Bobby Jindal blames movies/video games for mass shootings.

Because of course he did.

I’m curious where he stands on drone strikes and enhanced interrogation, given that we still do it based on the Jack Bauer argument.

Oh wait here it is: Obama is not hard enough on terror.

Because violence is bad unless it’s done to designated unlawful combatants (i.e. Lebensunwertes Leben). Even virtual violence.

Except when Bobby Jindal says so. For reasons.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Ok... riiiight

We glorify sick and senseless acts of violence in virtually every element of our pop culture, and we have been doing that for at least a generation.

Uh huh…

We have generations of young boys who were raised on video games where they compete with other young boys around the country and the world to see who can kill the most humans.

So that’s why spree killings Mr Jindal?
We get all the same films and games you do and there’s only been 3 in my lifetime that I remember in the UK, versus how many in the US? Think there may be a little more to it than that… just sayin’

JEDIDIAH says:

Re: Those Same Movies And Games Are Available In Other Countries ...

… and yet it is the USA that has the high violent crime rate.
>
> What’s different about the USA? The guns.

So guns are responsible for non-gun murders (44%) in some states and non-gun beatings, burglaries, arson, and rape?

If you’re someplace where you really have to worry about being a victim of a gun crime, getting shot just the tip of the iceberg.

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Those Same Movies And Games Are Available In Other Countries ...

High violent crime rate compared to whom, exactly? According to Wikipedia we’re 110 out of 218, yet by every count we have by far the most guns and highest rate of gun ownership by nearly double the closest other country.

The number of guns in the US has steadily risen, yet violent crime rates have steadily decreased. I won’t say that it’s caused by more guns, because then I would foolishly implying that correlation implies causation. Sort of like you did.

MondoGordo (profile) says:

Re: Those Same Movies And Games Are Available In Other Countries ...

What’s different about the USA ? Not the guns … many countries have relatively equivalent access to guns.

It’s The entitlement culture; winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing! ie: Some people are going to “win” at any price even if that means killing a bunch of people.

and the 24×7 News Media … that provides them with the stage for their triumph … notoriety is guaranteed … fame … even a kind of immortality … that’s the victory.

That’s whats different about the USA … not the guns.

Anon and Far says:

Bobby Jindal

When I met him at LSU before he was appointed to fix the charity hospital money problem, he didn’t seem to be arrogant. Bobby, Bobby, Bobby you’ve become such a tool. Just lowering taxes on the super rich and sticking it to the poor isn’t enough. Now you want to blame media for the not-crime wave. Grow up Bobby. No one wants to hear your bullshit anymore.

JP Jones (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Or C) Neither.

You know what kills people? People kill people. All the time. And have for centuries and centuries before guns or video games, and in extremely high numbers.

Heck, if you look at the historical record, and want to use faulty “correlation = causation” logic, if anything guns and video games have steadily been reducing worldwide violence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Which media is the problem again?

Games may impart an inventory of method in the subconscious mind, but that is quite different than imparting purchase intent. Games are engineered to create a feeling of reward. FUD is engineered to create anxiety.

So which is more likely to result in violence?

Consider commercials like the Bayer “you are going to have a heart attack today” advertisement. From a psychology standpoint, that commercial probably CAUSES heart attacks. And there are hundreds of similar examples.

So while games release stress, corporate advertising manufactures it. Neuromarketing techniques are used specifically for that purpose.

So how many people who go postal suffer from anxiety or stress related disorders? And who is pumping FUD into the market making people more stressed out?

The same guys selling anxiety meds, that’s who. Who is slinging all that FUD? The same guys who are selling tragedy porn, that’s who.

Cabal news is to understanding, as drug cartels are to pain relief.

John85851 (profile) says:

Every politican needs a soundbite

And which soundbite is quicker and easier for the 24-hour news cycle to digest?
1) I think we should look into the causes of mental illness and the reasons why people think they should express their anger by killing other human beings.
Or:
2) It’s because of violent video games… and movies… and TV shows… and comic books.

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