Letters to the Editor

Movie choice

July 28, 2012


To the editor:

I was just pulling out of Topeka Library’s parking lot when news of the Aurora, Colo., shootings began broadcasting on NPR. It was one of those moments, like Kennedy’s assassination and the attacks on the twin towers in New York, that in its unimaginable terribleness, stops time, indelibly marking the place we were when it occurred forever in our memories.

A later NPR report indicated that, despite the shooting, “The Dark Knight Rises” had been the No. 1 box office draw last weekend. This film should be immediately pulled by the production company. There is already more than enough violence in the real world. Why do people need these terrible films, with their sinister, sadistic plots and characters? Heath Ledger’s early death from drug overdose, as well as James Holmes’ shooting spree cannot be separated from the nightmare effect that these dark films have on the sensitive minds of their actors and viewers.

Please, out of respect for those whose lives were lost, do not patronize theaters that are showing this movie. It’s time to stand up for decency and integrity in our entertainment venues. It’s time to stop production companies from making films like “The Dark Knight” by refusing to go see them. Since it seems that the money is the driving force behind any movie, those that have no audience will soon be taken off the market.

Think hard before you step out the door to your next movie. Ask yourself why you want to see it. If you are simply seeking “entertainment,” try the classics. There are better films than “The Dark Knight.”


frank regnier 4 years, 1 month ago

Like the remake of the classic "Psycho"?

Brock Masters 4 years, 1 month ago

Talk about wanting to take us back into the dark ages. Let's burn the books and the movies. The people must be protected from themselves.

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

This letter suggests that people make different choices, not that anything be burned or banned.

Personally, I'd be glad if people stopped flocking to violent, overstimulating movies and video games - while I don't think they're the sole cause of our violent society, I think they're a factor.

Brock Masters 4 years, 1 month ago

jafs - it is called hyperbole. My exaggerated statement was not to be taken literally. While she is not calling for burning or banning books, she is calling for the production company to pull the movie from production.

I do agree with your opinion voiced in your second paragraph. Living in a free society does come with its own set of problems. How do we change public behavior when people are free to choose?

jafs 4 years, 1 month ago

I skipped over that part - you're right.

I don't understand your question. "Public" behavior is often limited, because it affects other people.

KSWingman 4 years, 1 month ago

"This letter suggests that people make different choices, not that anything be burned or banned."

The letter writer is saying exactly that: "This film should be immediately pulled by the production company."

That has nothing to do with the choice of the consumer to watch or not, and everything too do with a pseudomoralistic attitude that people "should" be protected from themselves.

jafs 4 years ago

It also suggests that people make different choices.

beatrice 4 years, 1 month ago

Actually jafs, the letter said that the movie should be pulled immediately by the production company. If that isn't the same as banning or burning, it would have the same result.

There are many forms of entertainment, and much of what young people see are things more suitable for more mature minds. That is on the parents, just as it is on the parents not to allow their kids to drink a 44oz soda every day.

booyalab 4 years ago

I agree that what we watch can have an effect on us, although the writer of this letter seems to be calling for a ban. To me, it's like food. No one argues the myriad of complicated ways that our food choices can have on our body. Why is it so hard to imagine that what we watch or listen to might affect us too? On the other hand, that is a personal or parental choice. For me personally, I have stopped watching certain movies or listening to music that I liked because I had a feeling it had a detrimental effect. But I don't blame the production company or the artist, just like I don't fault McDonald's for existing. It was my choice to make.

booyalab 4 years ago

Also, what affects one person might not affect someone else...with media as with food. The important thing is to have enough respect for yourself to recognize when, or if, something might need to be changed.

geekin_topekan 4 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if "Deliverance" is included in Marilyn's mental list of acceptable movies. It's funny, I have seen "Deliverance" a hundred times and have never once considered going to the Kaw in search of campers to sodomize. "Saturday Night Fever" did not make me want to wear platforms or join a ministry. "Taxi Driver" did not make me want to shoot a politician or impress Jodie Foster.

However, "All the President's Men" did spur my interest in Journalism;"The Cabbie" did make me want to drive a taxi; "...and Justice For All" did spark an interest in law school.

I am sorry about the quotation marks, I have no idea how to italicize or underline.

Carry on.

Abdu Omar 4 years, 1 month ago

For once I agree with JAFS. Violence on tv and movies and other places is getting out of hand and is instilling in some children the idea that violence is acceptable. I am very much a classicist in that I like classical music and the like, but certainly we can find a much more enlightened form of entertainment than violence and murder. Can't we?

Brock Masters 4 years, 1 month ago

I agree, but how do we do it without censoring?

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 1 month ago

The thing is that I do not want to be enlightened. The term sounds rather snooty to me. I like martial arts movies, action movies, and I really like B horror movies. Andre the Butcher is one of my favorite bad guys. The Rock has made some good movies, also, Steve Austin, Kane, etc.

Brock Masters 4 years, 1 month ago

LOL - did you notice how the LTE wanted us to know she was enlightened? Driving back from library listening to NPR......yes, she is enlightened and we should all bow down to her.

beatrice 4 years, 1 month ago

Good catch. At least she didn't say while driving in her Prius to her home where she doesn't have a television.

Yes, I can laugh at liberals on occassion. I'll admit, we can be pretty silly at times.

jafs 4 years ago

It's not the only cause, of course, but I think it's a contributing factor these days, along with violent video games.

When I was growing up, we didn't have "school shootings" and movie theater massacres.

These sorts of movies and video games stimulate the "fight or flight" response, jacking up the adrenaline in one's body, and activating the sympathetic nervous system. People who have that sort of thing going on are more likely to get into fights, and act violently, in my view.

It's true, of course, that aggression and violence have been part of the human experience for a long time, and may be part of our nature, but in appropriate amounts and places, they serve us well. That doesn't mean that they're always good, or that we should just accept the fact that our society is becoming more and more violent, and more random in the application of that.

jafs 4 years ago

If you read my post again, you'll find I'm not looking for a "scapegoat", but I am interested in identifying a variety of causes for the violence in our society.

I don't think it's sufficient to say "insane people do insane acts".

Seems to me that there are a number of factors involved in making our society more violent than others, and it would be in our best interests to find out what they are, and what we can do about them, if anything, rather than just accept it.

Do you really think that we're not a more violent society now than in the 70's?

notaubermime 4 years ago

If you are going to look for what makes our society's violent tendencies unique, you should probably go with things that other countries do not have. Most other industrialized countries share our movies and video games.

Do I think that we are a less violent society now than in the 70's? Data seems to point that way: http://blogs.berkeley.edu/2010/06/16/a-crime-puzzle-violent-crime-declines-in-america/

jafs 4 years ago

That's an interesting analysis.

Doesn't mesh with my gut feeling that we're more violent now than then - I wonder why that is.

notaubermime 4 years ago

Dunno, but the emergence of a 24 hr, tragedy-based news cycle might reinforce an observation error.

jafs 4 years ago


It's also possible that the violence has become more random, if not greater, which would also be disturbing.

jafs 4 years ago

That's interesting.

If we're not more violent, then why would easier access to weapons result in more violent acts?

After all, weapons don't kill people,...

jafs 4 years ago

So, we have more violence - hence we're a more violent society, which is what I've been saying.

Whether it's because there is easier access to weapons, or for other reasons.

Who's more likely to get drugs or weapons, people that want to use them or people that don't?

If people didn't want to use the weapons, they wouldn't get them, right?

jafs 4 years ago

That's exactly the same thing, to my mind.

A more violent society is one in which more violence occurs.

jafs 4 years ago

I'm not sure I understand your point here.

Obviously Japan and the Holocaust are more violent, in terms of numbers, than the school shootings.

Japan was part of a war, which is inherently violent.

The Holocaust was an unfathomable example of inhumanity.

For me, part of the disturbing aspect of these school shootings and other similar things is their randomness and seeming pointlessness.

I can sort of understand why we nuked Japan, although it's horrifying. And, if I stretch a bit, I can try to understand the forces that led to the Holocaust, although it's very difficult, especially since I'm Jewish.

But, why people get guns and go randomly shooting people is beyond me.

Jaded_one 4 years, 1 month ago

Let's ban the movies but not the assault weapons yeah that's the ticket...we will always have violent movies, video games, cartoons, TV shows, government etc. welcome to a free society. I love this Country to death but it is what it is...

chootspa 4 years, 1 month ago

I think the production company should pull all movies by Jodie Foster, since Hinckley shot Reagan to impress her.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 1 month ago

I saw the movie and throughly enjoyed every moment of it. I will also buy it when it comes out on DVD. There is no valid reason for this movie to be pulled. Respect for those who were killed? No, because this is a business and a public space. What happened does not make it hallowed ground.

Phil Minkin 4 years, 1 month ago

Brilliant ! Focus on a movie that MAY have some vague. tangential connection with 2 deaths rather than doing something about the easy availability of assault rifles and acquiring 6000 rounds of ammunition (easier to get than getting a package of Sudefed at a drug store) that are responsible for 100's of deaths. Next we can stop NASCAR races to cut down of traffic fatalities.

beatrice 4 years, 1 month ago

The Bible is pretty violent. Better not read it. Might make me want to nail somebody to a cross.

Somebody once went gun crazy at a Luby's -- better not eat at restaurants. Another went gun nuts at an amish school -- better not attend schools (or buy amish goods). Another went coocoo for cocoa puffs while armed at a military base -- better not support the military. And don't even get me started on mailing a letter at the post office.

Regarding the overdose of an actor, Elvis also died of an overdose -- must have been the Westerns he was in.

Or maybe the theater was just the setting and the movie could just as easily have been a G-rated family pic. Remember, the shooter had not even seen the film yet. Blaming the film is like blaming the play for Lincoln's assassination.

No, I won't avoid theaters showing this film. I completely enjoyed the first two Batman movies in this latest triology and look forward to seeing this latest film in a theater setting.

hedshrinker 4 years, 1 month ago

Ms. Roy's opinions may be debatable, but spare me yr outrage(FredMertz, etc) at her citing the public library and NPR as examples of her intellectual elitist perspective. I believe there's all kinds of sanctimonious posturing, much of it by folks who want to show their populist/gritty attitudes by" getting down with the folks" and making fun of people with some education. That's sort of like Mitt Romney trying to show how he's just one of the guys. I don't pay to support most of the big budget drivel that graces the Southwind screen, but don't want to prevent others fr doing so . I certainly do encourage others to spend their entertainment $$$ and especially time doing something that might be more uplifting, in that it might make one think or laugh (with, not at) or feel hopeful about humanity or point us in a positive direction. I don't find fear and violence and noise entertaining at all .

ivalueamerica 4 years ago

Clearly, based on this persons arguments, we should all choose not to read the Bible.

parrothead8 4 years ago

And since mass killings have also taken place at McDonalds, a day trading firm in Atlanta, and the University of Texas, all of those places should be shut down as well.

jafs 4 years ago

I did at first skip over the part suggesting banning it, but apparently many others skipped the parts suggesting that people make different choices, and stop going to these sorts of movies.

It's very worthwhile, in my opinion, to be aware of the effects of one's choices on one's mind, body and spirit, and choose activities that have a positive effect on those.

We've stopped going to these kinds of movies for a while now, and limiting our exposure to violence on tv as well - there's some interesting research showing that our systems (mind/body) can't distinguish between reality and fantasy on a certain level, and so we're affected almost as if we're living the movie.

I remember a friend of mine who liked to play "Mortal Combat" - doing so clearly increased his aggression.

notaubermime 4 years ago

"there's some interesting research showing that our systems (mind/body) can't distinguish between reality and fantasy on a certain level, and so we're affected almost as if we're living the movie."

Correct me if I am wrong, but none of that research has actually been able to show that the body's response has any connection to a change in behavioral patterns, right? Your body may respond with sympathy to Tom Hanks' character in "Philadelphia", but that doesn't mean you are going to decide to become gay.

jafs 4 years ago

I don't know the answer to that question.

For me, it's enough that our bodies and minds are affected almost as if the movie is reality to avoid overstimulating violent films - I have no interest in living through those.

And, certainly movies and other things that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and the fight or flight response affect one's behavior, don't you think?

notaubermime 4 years ago

True enough. I avoid awkward situation comedies for the same reason.

"And, certainly movies and other things that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and the fight or flight response affect one's behavior, don't you think?"

There is a difference between changing behavior and changing behavior patterns. When I say behavior pattern, I am referring to engaging in behavior which one would not normally do or increasing the likelihood that a one will engage in a specific behavior. Specifically, I do not think that watching violent movies will make a nonviolent person commit violent acts. I think that it is unlikely that watching violent movies will increase the chance that one will commit a violent act.

There are a great deal of much more powerful motivators towards violence than a media form which features violence.

jafs 4 years ago


But, we all have a certain amount of aggression, which is mostly inactive, by virtue of our instincts.

Stimulating the fight or flight response seems to me pretty likely to result in more violence.

I'm not saying, of course, that these sorts of movies/video games/etc. are the only cause, but I do think they're part of the problem.

classclown 4 years ago

Apparently I've been out of touch with reality. I hear about this movie being the third in a trilogy and I accept that. But what in the heck is the second movie and when did it come out? I can only remember the first.

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

The Chris Nolan Batman films are; Batman Begins (2005). The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

Maybe Spielberg could buy up all movies and digitally replace all the guns with flowers....

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

I hadn't heard that. Good for him.

BucklesRouge 4 years ago

Yes, let's ban a movie that's trying to make viewers think about society (violence and all). It's people like the woman who wrote this letter that is the problem with America!

jaywalker 4 years ago

"Why do people need these terrible films, with their sinister, sadistic plots and characters? Heath Ledger’s early death from drug overdose, as well as James Holmes’ shooting spree cannot be separated from the nightmare effect that these dark films have on the sensitive minds of their actors and viewers."

Please forgive me, the LTE annoyed me so much I haven't bothered to read any response as yet.

Get a freakin' grip! It's called life, shiitake mushrooms happen. So if some nutball chose to shoot up "It's a Wonderful Life", let's burn some books? And trying to tie in Ledger's overdose in any fashion is just plain silly.

Welcome to 2012, Marilyn. Personally, I'd appreciate if you opened your mind a touch before you wrote another LTE.

asixbury 4 years ago

Violence is prevalent. Maybe seeing it on TV and movies prevents some from doing it in real life. They get to experience their fantasies through video games and their imaginations, instead of actually doing these acts. I grew up with violence all around and never once thought to do something violent. Most people know the difference between reality and fantasy. If you don't like the violence, don't watch it, but don't try to prevent other people from enjoying the movies. Now this country's hang-up with nudity is a whole different issue.

Connecting this movie with the act of some crazy guy is ridiculous. If he is set on violence, he will seek it out, whether or not Batman played. That's like they used to say in the 90's about how Marilyn Manson caused the Columbine massacre: ridiculous connections and completely absurd.

acg 4 years ago

Violence isn't new. What is new to the past ten years is how bombarded we are with "information". Between our phones and our computers, we know way more about what's happening around the world instantly! And so do our kids. I can remember a few of the instances mentioned above happening when I was young but not clearly. I didn't sit down to watch the news at night, I didn't have a phone that alerted me to stuff, I didn't have a twitter account or instant access to videos of people acting like idiots. Our kids do. They emulate our behavior because that's what kids are all about. If we think we're raising a whole generation of lazy, whiny, violent weenies, we only have ourselves to thank. BTW, my kids don't have phones, or facebook or twitter accounts. They still ride their bikes and play outside. Crazy, eh?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.