September 27, 2007, - 4:55 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
Whenever I write about Hollywood movies sympathizing with terrorists or hitting the moviegoer over the head with some other far-left cause or political point of view, I generally get one or two e-mails or comments saying, “Lighten up. It’s just a movie.”
Problem is, many ignorant moviegoers are influenced by what’s in the movies. They take it as truth. That’s the case with Abu Spielberg’s “Munich” and “Amistad“–both of which were fictional and lie-filled–and Oliver Stone’s many conspiracy theory cinematic screeds. After “JFK,” a lot of Americans believed Stone’s fanciful conspiracy theories about JFK’s murder, despite the facts which controvert what he put on film. Even liberal former ABC reporter Sam Donaldson shook his head at the movie.
Now, there’s more evidence to back up my constant irked status with regard to the revisionism and lies put out by Hollywood. A study conducted by Susanne Tanski, James Sargent, and other researchers at Dartmouth Medical School shows movies influence kids. They emulate what they see. The study is in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
The study focused on smoking, but I don’t think smoking is unique in the constant set of behaviors and viewpoints inculcated into movie-viewing kids’ minds.
The researchers counted the number of smoking scenes in 532 box office hits over the past five years. Then, they surveyed 6,522 kids aged ten to 14 about which of those movies they’d seen as well as about their smoking habits. Then, they resurveyed the kids 8, 16, and 24 months later.
The study found a direct correlation between the number of smoking scenes watched and the chances of becoming a habitual smoker. Those who’d seen the most such scenes were twice as likely to end up addicted to smoking as those who’d seen the fewest. This was constant in all social and economic groups of kids.
Again, smoking is not unique to learned behavior from the movies. If kids see enough scenes that tell us that extremist Muslims are innocent victims of a “backlash” or, worse, that terrorists have justified grievances which are legitimate grounds for attacks on innocent Americans, then they will ultimately believe it.
Just like smoking, it’s harmful to your children’s health. And America’s health.
It’s not “just a movie.” It’s a prescription for disaster.
And the movies’ influence on America in general is no secret. Those who claim it’s just a movie have to answer why companies spend millions for product placement onscreen. If we weren’t influenced by what we saw, they’d be wasting their money.
Then, there’s another issue that intersects with the faulty “it’s only a movie” philosophy.
A number of parents are upset that in-flight movies are often R-rated, complete with graphic violence, nudity, and obscenities. That led Reps. Heath Shuler and Walter Jones, both of North Carolina, to introduce the Family Friendly Flights Act. It would mandate that airlines have certain sections on planes that are “kid-friendly zones” where such movies would not be shown.
Although I generally side with parents on these issues, I have a problem with Congress micromanaging airlines in this way. On the other hand, since so many airlines asked for government help and bail-outs after 9/11, they’ve given themselves over to more government supervision. I believe in the marketplace, and I think if enough parents raised objections, airlines would do this on their own, instead of having Congress tell them how to do it.
I think this issue will be resolved as more and more airlines introduce personal video monitors on each seatback. Until then, I can’t argue with the fact that exposure to such movies influences kids unfavorably. And parents stuck with them blaring on a screen onboard a plane thousands of feet in the sky can’t exactly walk out.
Kids and other sponge-like Americans are impressionable, and they learn behaviors and viewpoints from movies, which they ultimately emulate. The smoking study makes that point in spades.
It’s not “just a movie.”
Tags: ABC, Abu Spielberg's "Munich, America, Amistad, Congress, Dartmouth Medical School, Debbie Schlussel Whenever, head at the movie, Heath Shuler, It's Just a Movie, James Sargent, JFK, Munich, North Carolina, Oliver Stone, reporter, Sam Donaldson, Susanne Tanski, Walter Jones