Friday, April 20, 2007

Bye bye, American Pie...

More emerges about Cho Seung-Hui: his isolated personality, marked by very strong projection, the possibility of paranoid psychosis, his posturing with guns, and evidence of modelling himself on a violent South Korean film. The film blogs are reacting with denial, some parodying the suggestion that he really modelled himself on that film.

Well look. Our actions are a resultant of a number of forces, including
genetics, social environment, especially early family dynamics, our physical environment (including reactions to food and chemicals), our cognitive structuring and our imaginal life.
OK so far? Lots of factors.

One of the factors is the images we see in films. I wrote in detail about this for Bills of Health .
There was a classical psychological experiment by Bandura in 1965 which modelled the effect of film on behaviour, and many experiments since then that bear out his findings. The problem is, no-one wants to believe it because they think that would entail censorship. Not so. It could just entail the Producer Responsibility Principle. (see above)

Film makers set out to affect their audiences' life experience; so they have to accept that they also affect their behaviour. Which is not to say that the film OldBoy is 100% responsible for what happened, but it has to be a factor. A little factor in the mass audience: maybe a big factor in someone who happens to become fixated with a film. How much of a factor in percentage terms is a matter for debate.

What is not up for debate is the fact that someone with Cho's history of mental illness should not have been able to buy guns. He was able to do so. Well - so much the worse for the American Way, and so much the worse for those who lost loved ones.

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