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September 1996, Week 3


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Michael Plott <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 19 Sep 1996 11:46:56 -0400
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In a message dated 96-09-19 11:06:29 EDT, you (Peter) write:
>>I think movies/TV reinforce and intensify values already held, and this is
>probably true of both adults and children. I am doubtful that movies CAUSE
>a change in values.<<
I would agree with this except to point out that few children have firm
values established and I suspect that films can sometimes provide a more
spectacular and impressive model of behavior than mom and dad---especially if
there is limited interaction between child and parents.
>>To test this notion,I took the time to find out which films were Hitler's
favorites. After all,it would be wonderful if one could prevent (or even
reduce the likelihood of) a Hitler by banning a film or changing a TV
channel. Unfortunately, it turned out that Hitler's favorites were KING
KONG (1933) and SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937).As neither of these
films appears to provide a sufficient explanation of Hitler's subsequent
actions,I concluded the relationship between film-viewing and subsequent
action is a highly complicated one.<<
I find this to be a very interesting experiment so I almost hate to say this
but there are several problems in drawing any conclusions based upon it
(though there is no doubt that your conclusion that "the a highly complicated one." is entirely correct).
First of all, people have been committing henious acts since the dawn of
time---long before film (Ghengis Khan, for instance, never saw a film in his
life), so film certainly cannot be blamed for all despicable human behavior.
Second of all, film in Hitler's day is a far cry from the universal access
people (especially children) now have to TV, videos and other forms of film;
the fact that film may not have had a big impact 50 years ago does not
address the vast changes that have occured since.
Third (and I present this mostly for entertainment value), the films you cite
that were Hitler's favorites are both fantasy films, dealing with "mystic,
magical" characters.   It is well known that Hitler believed in the
supernatural; who is to say that seeing fantasy fims didn't somehow further
his believe in things magical?   Perhaps if he didn't have such faith in
supernatural powers, he wouldn't have had the courage/confidence to go as far
as he did.
My point is that I think film *can* have tremendous influence on people, but
it is no excuse for inappropriate behavior and I don't think banning certain
types of film will have much affect on the general population.
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