When Psycho came out in 1959, a teenager killed his grandmother, and at the trial tried coping that old plea used in ecclesiastical and civilian courts for centuries, “The Devil made me do it.” Seeing Hitchcock’s film, the killer claimed, made him so mentally deranged he was compelled to kill his grandmother. His defense failed.
When the National Rifle Association’s Wayne Lapierre spoke for 25 minutes on Friday about the mass murder of children and teachers in a school in Newtown, Connecticut, much of his time was devoted to answering his own rhetorical question, “isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?” Various politicians echoed Lapierre’s accusations. But then, some politicians always have.For the last 2,500 years, the most popular and memorable dramatic stories have tended to be filled with sex and violence. Some people have always been offended by this, and periodically throughout its history, theaters have been condemned, censored, and shut down as a result. Other people have argued that, rather than being a danger to individuals and society, the depiction of these deep human impulses on stage and screen produces “catharsis.” Read more