All right, my internet friend Tom reblogged this piece quoting Harvey Keitel discussing violence in films. I feel the need to respond given the many ways in which this involves me personally. Ultimately his (Harvey’s, that is) words leave me a little cold. It almost feels like he is justifying his body of work given recent events, perhaps even claiming it was an attempt to stave off such reprehensible violence by confronting it through his art. I get it, I really do. No question he is a thoughtful, talented man who has gone above and beyond responsible consideration of the possible repercussions of that which he has created. But the words still somehow ring hollow. What frightens me most is that my own attempts to justify what I have created so closely echo his thoughts.
What is our responsibility for what we create? Does fictional violence beget real violence? Is there a line that can be crossed taking the depiction of violence from helpful to harmful, or vice-versa? As far as I can tell there is no credible study of this, and what I can find using my limited google-fu only turns up highly partisan and less-than-credible arguments to the extreme on either side. I don’t believe there is any legitimate study of the correlation between exposure to fictional violence and it’s propensity to inspire real actions. I’m wide open to any arguments either way here, but I think it’s a topic worth discussing. If we make violent art/entertainment are we culpable?