Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers whether they think movie violence increases violent crimes. Here are some of the replies:
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
Don't blame modern day violence on Batman. Or fast food for diabetes. Or comic books for poor reading skills. I blame computer games, especially fantasy role-playing games and ‘first-person shooter' games. When someone participates in a virtual world/alternate reality and creates a fictitious avatar (custom created identity) – well, you start to lose grip on the world outside your window. The US army uses these shooting games as training and recruiting tools. That's not fun, that's sick.
Police in Ha Noi have recently prosecuted managers of the Muaban24 Online Trade and Training Company for using telecommunications networks and the internet to carry out fraud.
The Muaban24 network has about 120,000 members in more than 30 provinces and cities who have joined the network to trade online. People are invited to join this online market and are promised hundreds of millions dong in monthly income for recruiting new members to the network.
So far, the company has collected more than VND600 billion ($28.8 million) from its members. Concerns have been raised over Muaban24's use of a marketing strategy called multi-level marketing. Also known as pyramid marketing or network marketing, this strategy is similar to illegal pyramid schemes.
Despite facing frequent criticism and being the target of lawsuits, multi-level marketing has developed rapidly in many countries, with over 30,000 companies using the model and over 75 million participants as of 2010, according to the World Federation of Direct Selling Association.
Is multi-level marketing popular in your country and why? Are you for or against this marketing model and how do you think it should be controlled by the Government to prevent fraud?
Please reply by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, August 16.
Just this week in Canada, a 32 year old Vancouver man was charged by police making Batman-movie death threats over the Facebook communication site. A video was posted on YouTube of a young man going to the toilet on a homeless man sleeping on the streets of Toronto. I have not been home in over five years. I am embarrassed. Why go back to that?
There are several inescapable true factors involved in modern day violence. Technology plays a big role, as does globalisation. When I grew up on the suburban streets of bilingual Montreal, Canada, I did not go home until the streetlights came on. I rode my bicycle, played street hockey and went to the public swimming pool and the public library. Looking back, I realise I was a happy kid and quite innocent.
Now that I teach English to kids in Ha Noi and I am almost 50 years old, I cannot imagine what it must be like for kids these days. Asia has stronger family ties and you do not ‘farm off' the grandparents to old age homes like western countries do. But now both parents work, grandparents live farther away and the only games kids seem to play are indoors, online.
Kids are distracted by the bright lights of American Idol TV (short-cut competition) shows, reality TV shows (so unnatural) and the (false gold) allure of material goods. Apple computers, iPads and iPhones are as much about fashion as they are about communication. They are also expensive and shut out the real world. Now people do not exercise, but have sore thumbs from punching all these electronic buttons.
More and more ‘kids'-which now includes teenagers and young adults well into their 20's – live at home, delay work for more years at university and are increasingly living lives over the Internet. Even I am not immune. I often reference Wikipedia and regularly look on YouTube for information and entertainment. The good news is we know more and can find out about things 24/7. Doctors can use technology. I can do banking and order just about everything online.
Nothing can replace the childhood bruises on my shins from playing soccer and the sunburn on my arms from riding my bike all afternoon. Easy access to legal drugs (beer, wine, alcohol, cigarettes, coffee) and self-medication for headaches and stress (Aspirin) are not the answers. Kicking a ball and going for a walk is infinitely better than anything you will be distracted with on the Internet. False electronic gods will not bring peace and security, only misery, anger and bad images that people will copycat. Monkey see, monkey do. Garbage in, garbage out.
Ryu Ueda, Japanese, Tokyo, Japan
I believe violence in movies does have an impact on people, especially the young.
There are different reasons for the increasing rate of violent behaviours among young people, including lack of attention from relatives and lack of living skills. But violent movies and games are much to blame as they have affected audiences' emotions, instilling in them an indifferent and cold attitude towards others.
I've read somewhere one consequence from watching such movies is the increase of the social psychological phenomenon known as the bystander effect, where a group of people is more likely to watch a person be victimised rather than doing anything to stop the violence or to get help.
Why? Everything seems obvious and familiar according to what they've watched from movies. The more people present, the less likely the victim will be helped anyway.
And I agree with someone's argument that another effect is that people have a less realistic view of how fragile the human body is in regards to being hit, shoved, choked, pushed down, or struck by objects. After seeing movie portrayals of violence over and over again, people lose a reality-based concept of how easy it is to seriously injure or kill some one by using violence/force on them.
Other possible effects are reckless driving, road rage, and criminal activities such as dealing and trafficking in controlled substances.
Keith J McDonald, British, Vung Tau City
I would suggest that very few people are affected by viewing violent movies or video games that would lead them to commit such horrendous acts against other persons.
The incident of the 2 young girls, whilst absolutely abhorrent, could suggest the male concerned as being a predatory paedophile with extremely violent tendencies. The cases of Holmes (Colorado ‘Batman' shootings) and Brevik (Norway bombings and shootings) could imply a degree of schizophrenia. The Wisconsin Sikh Temple shootings took place at the hands of a self proclaimed neo-nazi with a hatred towards Muslims (Sikhs are not followers of Islam).
The two teenagers in Tay Nguyen who attempted to rob a jewellery shop may have been ‘high' on drugs looking for money to support their addiction. It is quite simple to buy a long bladed knife that can have a devastating effect on a victim, rather than a gun. Despite the best efforts of the police it appears to be relatively easy to buy Class A drugs on the streets in Viet Nam.
I was in Phu Quoc recently, and, as a qualified medic, I could see several youths who were clearly under the influence of drugs and my wife was quite afraid (although crime in Phu Quoc appears to be very low).
I do not believe that watching violent movies leads to an increase of violent crimes. Several elements may come into the equation – peer pressure (a member of a gang), drugs, alcohol, mental derangement or instability, poverty, and lower education.
Rie Watanabe, Japanese, Ha Noi
Movie violence surely has its part in the increasing number of crimes. Not all, but partly.
I believe that watching violent acts on television can potentially have long-lasting effects on how a child will behave later on. Many children replay what they watch from movies to their friends.
The violent movies also make people feel nothing towards violence. They distort people's awareness about the real world and create aggressive thinking.
On the other hand, the movies lead people to think of the world as unsafe and remain cautious all the time. Even trivial-seeming things can be dangerous. So they need to protect themselves beforehand. Sadly, I am told that in Viet Nam, sometimes people are attacked or killed due to a "misunderstood" look.
That's why there need to be training programmes on the value of life to young people. They should be the ones to control themselves first to avoid any possible criminal behaviour imitated from violent movies. — VNS