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VIOLENT MOVIES ARE A PUBLIC SERVICE

By 01.08.08

Proving what I already knew about Al Qaeda videos being the best babysitter, a research paper was recently presented to the American Economic Association (I’m picturing ascots and monocles) suggesting violent movies actually reduce crime rates.

Instead of fueling up at bars and then roaming around looking for trouble, potential criminals pass the prime hours for mayhem eating popcorn and watching celluloid villains slay in their stead.

“You’re taking a lot of violent people off the streets and putting them inside movie theaters,” said one of the authors of the study, Gordon Dahl, an economist at the University of California, San Diego [my alma mater]. “In the short run, if you take away violent movies, you’re going to increase violent crime.”

Crime is not merely delayed until after the credits run, they say. On the Monday and Tuesday after packed weekend showings of violent films, no spike in violent crime emerges to compensate for the peaceful hours at the movies. Even a few weeks later, there is no evidence of a compensating resurgence, they say.

This sounds a lot lamer than the study I had pictured, which involved hardened criminals watching A Clockwork Orange while hooked up to a steam-spewing machine called "The Rape-o-Matic".  Still, it makes sense to me – There Will be Blood made me smile, while High School Musical makes me want to stab a baby with a pitchfork.


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