Since the Aurora Theater Shooting, there has been some discussion about violence in general from two notable Anime bloggers. While I had some thoughts about it, I decided not to share them since it’s a controversial issue. With the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting that took place last month, I felt the need to share my thoughts about violence in media as some politicians and NRA’s Wayne LaPierre decided to make media the scapegoat instead of addressing the issue. There are many reasons why I don’t think media like Anime necessarily cause someone to become violent. (Image Source)
With most media, the main purpose is to share a story or an idea. Since I write about and watch Anime on an almost daily basis, not all shows are necessarily violent. Considering the current trend in Japan, most of the shows are usually slice of life comedies and they don’t necessarily have a lot of violence, especially in shows that usually targets females as they rarely have any. Most of the violence in Anime is in shows that target younger males as they have a lot of fighting scenes such as Naruto, One Piece and Bleach. In some instance, we have shows that have extreme violence that depicts a lot of killing like Higurashi and School Days, and yet Japan only have 10 deaths from shootings last year alone compared to United States, which experienced tens of thousands in comparison.
This brings us an interesting point of societal differences from United States and Japan (or even all of Asia). The main difference that Japan has a peaceful society. Sure there is rare instances of violence such as the Akihabara massacre that had 7 dead and 10 injured (which pales in comparison to many that died or got injured in both shootings I mentioned) yet, they have violent Anime and even the same video games we play. This is due to the mostly due to strict regulations such as gun control laws and restrictions on owning any kind of rifle or sword (besides an air-soft or handgun). To even buy an air-soft gun, you have to go through many checks, take a class and pass a series of test before you can even buy one (you can read more about it here and here). This basically shows how much effort the Japanese government shown to maintain a peaceful society and not have to resort to any censorship whatsoever. Not only that, many Asian countries like China and South Korea also have strict gun control laws and rarely experience any massacres.
On the other side of the issue, people argue that media influences people to become violent. While shows and movies got targeted for this reason, video games are now receiving harsh criticism is for the fact that it’s an interactive medium. Unlike movies and Anime, there is more of an escapism element in Video Games as you take control of a made up character and do things you can’t normally do in real life. Because of this fact, critics like Wayne LaPierre blame it without realizing that it doesn’t necessarily cause people to become violent. While I don’t really play any violent video games since I prefer Japanese role-playing games to first person shooters, I did not change personally after playing them for all these years. I don’t suddenly start taking my weapon out and start killing punis because a girl in a wrack her wand to defeat them in a video game. This is because I know that it’s not real and most people know this fact. If they have access to guns and/or have a mental illness that cause one to become violent, well that is a different story. Besides, there are various studies already done on video games that it doesn’t necessarily cause people to kill others, but provide benefits.
Overall, I think blaming the media for gun violence is absurd. While Anime tends to depict more violence in shows geared for young males, it does not necessarily translate to more violence in Japan. Moreover, video games are very popular in Japan and it doesn’t contribute to instances of crime either. I think the problem lies with the politicians making media or in particular, video games the whipping boy rather than addressing the issue. I know that addressing gun violence isn’t an easy solution to resolve because of the controversy behind the 2nd Amendment’s interpretation and the never-ending Drug Wars, but they should at least debate about it rationally and take reasonable action rather than shifting the blame as other countries also have video games and violent TV shows and don’t experience the same scale of violence United States experiences.