For years, pundits have been trying to connect violent movies and video games with actual crimes.
The arguments typically end up more theoretical than reality based. In one famous instance, the 1994 Oliver Stone film “Natural Born Killers” supposedly inspired a young couple to kill a person and leave another paralyzed.
More recently, celebrities like Elizabeth Banks, Roger Ebert, Patton Oswalt and Michael Moore twisted the blame game for partisan reasons, using their Twitter accounts to accuse Sarah Palin of inspiring the Tucson shooter without a shred of evidence.
Now, we have a direct tie between an anti-war film and the murder of two U.S. soldiers. So … will the media cover the story? Will it change how the film industry treats the subject matter? And will Miss Banks and co. rush to Tweet their condemnation of the movie in question?”
Yes, I’m being rhetorical on all three fronts, but let’s plow on all the same.
“Redacted” by Brian de Palma (“The Untouchables,” “Scarface”) cast U.S. soldiers as racist, violent thugs. The film flopped in spectacular fashion, earning $65,388 for its entire theatrical run. Apparently, audiences weren’t too keen on seeing the men and women of the Armed Forces smeared.
But “Redacted” impacted Arid Uka, a Balkan Muslim who saw the film and went on to kill two U.S. Air Force servicemen in March. Uka told a judge this week he was inspired by “the movie’s graphic depiction of U.S. soldiers raping a girl in Iraq,” says The Daily Caller citing a BBC report.
The men killed were Senior Airman Nicholas Alden, age 25, and Airman 1st Class Zachary Cuddeback, aged 21.
The Daily Caller (full disclosure – I freelance for the publication) not only reported on the situation today but reached out to “Redacted” producer Jason Kliot for comment. What Kliot says is both stunning in its shallowness and so nakedly partisan even Ed Schultz might balk at saying it.
“I’m terribly sorry to hear that, but I don’t understand how my movie would impel anyone to commit murder,” he said. “I don’t see how people would be made to commit acts of violence [after watching “Redacted”], any more than they would for watching Fox News.”
Will de Palma be asked to comment by the press? How about Mark Cuban, who also helped produce the film?
Ultimately, the price of having artistic freedom means writers and directors can say what they want to say via film, television and music. But it sure would help if those same artists gave serious thought to the ramifications of their content, especially material specifically designed to impugn a population.