The Influence of Art (and Other Hypocrisies)

It’s a well known fact that violent video games create violent people. Except when they don’t.

It’s just like movies and TV: These things have absolutely no effect on the behavior of those who watch them. Unless they do.

The President waded into this recently after the terrible school shooting in Parkland, Florida, suggesting a summit to discuss the effect that video games have on young impressionable minds. He was widely mocked for this. It’s settled science, after all, that video games don’t make players violent gun nuts.

But they do turn gamers–especially white male ones–into misogynistic racists who hate gays. Or something. I don’t know.

And movies and TV, which influenced people to stop smoking, most emphatically don’t make viewers more violent. Except when they do. But they also paved the way for America to accept gay marriage. Except showrunners and moviemakers are unbiased souls who just want to make art and not propaganda. I guess.

My point is that this entire debate is pointless nonsense. Of course art influences people. How couldn’t it?How can you argue that games, movies, music and so don’t influence behavior and then in the same breath describe this thing or that thing as nothing more than propaganda?

You can’t, at least not with any degree of intellectual honesty. What it comes down to is people objecting to the messages that they personally don’t want to get out there. These, obviously, influence people. Those other ideas, the ones that any given side do wish to promote, clearly have no influence whatsoever on the masses.

Don’t give me any scientific study saying this or that doesn’t influence this or that. Because most scientific studies are probably false. Unless they’re not. Whatever.

I’m going with this based on personal experience and observation. If art has no influence whatsoever, why is there such an uproar over radical left-wing messaging in comic books and movies and science-fiction and fantasy, and an uproar against any right-leaning reactions against this?

Politics and art, I have concluded, always mix. Especially these days. And I’ll tell you why.

In Current Year, “politics” means everything, more then just your preferred economic system and thoughts on the appropriate role of government.

Politics is all encompassing: Your morality. Your religion (if any). Your sexual preferences. Your favorite color. Your sex. Your race. What words like “justice” and “fairness” and “equality” and “nation” mean. Your favorite sport. The foods you eat and your dietary preference. Every damn thing is political.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Maybe it didn’t even use to be this way. But it is now.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as “message fiction.” All fiction has a message.

We see this message through the plot of the fiction and in the characters, how they act, which viewpoint or ethos the protagonist embodies as opposed to the antagonist, who wins and who loses and who the reader or viewer or listener is supposed to root for.

Art might not turn you into a murderer or whatever, but it certainly has an effect on what you tolerate or find acceptable the longer you’re exposed to it.

All art is emotional manipulation. And the aficionado of said art goes along with it willingly. Don’t try to tell me otherwise.

If art had no influence, why would the battle be so bitter? Why do governments get involved In the art world? Because the stakes are so high.

It’s about more than money. It is about politics and values. The question is, as with nearly everything, whose politics and values?

I am gross and perverted
I’m obsessed ‘n deranged
I have existed for years
But very little has changed
I’m the tool of the Government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you can’t look away
I make you think I’m delicious
With the stuff that I say
I’m the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I’m the slime oozin’ out
From your TV set

You will obey me while I lead you
And eat the garbage that I feed you
Until the day that we don’t need you
Don’t go for help . . . no one will heed you

Your mind is totally controlled
It has been stuffed into my mold
And you will do as you are told
Until the rights to you are sold


  1. I read an interesting book, written, I think, by a former military man/teacher at a military academy. He concluded that head shots, in particular, are more common in mass shootings now due to the most common scoring systems in violent video games. His evidence looked compelling, but I don’t have he background to investigate this for myself. I don’t want to know any more about how people shoot each other.

    It’s filthy, dirty stuff. All of it. We should all be using our experience plus our intelligence to evaluate evidence, but that’s neither taught nor encouraged by culture.

    Then again, culture has always dictated opinions. Were the “sheeple” ever encouraged to think for themselves? The difference is how much we care (or think) about that fact, isn’t it?

    If art had no influence, it wouldn’t matter. I tend to agree with you. I hope you aren’t letting the shady side of all of this get you down today. Your best option is to soldier on with the good fight regardless, right? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yeah I’m not getting down. I’m fired up to fight back. I’m also a Christian so I hold out hope that good wins in the end even though evil will do it’s worse.

      This headshot good you mention is interesting and disturbing. I also don’t have a the background, and I know that for 99% of people, art doesn’t drastically alter BEHAVIOR, but I’m convinced it alters MINDS and what people find tolerable. This, arguably, over time can lead to changing behaviors.

      I have nothing against gamers or anybody. I just find it illogical to disbelieve anything suggesting art—including games—can have an influence. And with “settled science” on many things, especially social issues and other hard-to-measure hypotheses, so unreliable and compromised these days, I’m content to trusting my own lying eyes.


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