The Media Effect

It’s no secret that movies, TV, games, etc. have a real effect on people. But many times we don’t see just how big of an effect it is. Here are a couple of articles showing one effect media can have.

Thailand has banned the entire Grand Theft Auto video game franchise following the murder of a taxi driver by a teen who confessed he was emulating the violent series. After reportedly hailing a cab and stabbing its 54-year-old driver to death, Polwat Chino, 18, said, “Killing seemed easy in the game.” The high school senior told police that he wanted to see if robbing someone in real life was as simple as it seemed onscreen. And he appeared to have a monetary motive to give it a try: “I needed money to play the game every day,” Chino said. “My parents gave me only 100 baht a day, which is not enough.” Chino faces life imprisonment or the death penalty if convicted. A statement from Thai police spokesman Ruangsak Jaritake said, “The police are empowered to immediately arrest shopkeepers if they find any GTA games on sale.” Any merchant caught selling the game faces the prospect of fines and up to three years in prison. [AFP, 8/5/08; telegraph.co.uk, 8/4/08; guardian.co.uk, 8/5/08]

Two teens are in trouble after trying to emulate Batman‘s Joker, as played by Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. According to ABC News, “The two 18-year-olds allegedly wrote threatening messages on [playing] cards and left them at a local Wal-Mart and Kmart and under car windshields outside a Dairy Queen and an auto parts store” in their hometown of Pembroke, Va., after seeing the film. One card had the word “death” written on it, along with a date. Though the teens were apparently pulling a prank, it alarmed dozens of citizens. The pair has now been charged with conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism, a felony with a potential 20-year prison term. [abcnews.com, 8/18/08]

But media can have a positive effect – a teaching element to it, too. We just have to be willing to look for it and be able to recognize it when we see it.

This is why we did our “God in the Movies” series last fall. It’s also why we’re doing it again this fall. Stay tuned for more information about the second installment of “God in the Movies” – coming this November to a church near you.

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Daniel Goepfrich

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