On March 5, 15-year-old Charles Andrew Williams opened fire on classmates at his Santee, Calif. high school, killing two and wounding 13. It is, perhaps, a morbid reflection, but we all knew there would be another school shooting. We also knew that sooner or later someone would find a link between it and the entertainment industry.
In the case of Andy Williams, the link has been found. During a "Dateline NBC" interview, one of the boy's friends said that a song by the rock band Linkin Park inspired Williams to commit the murders. Linkin Park's lyrics include, "Everything you say/Takes me one step closer to the edge/And I'm about to break," and, "But I know just what it feels like/To have a voice in the back of my head."
Last August, representatives of six of the nation's top public health organizations signed a statement regarding the impact of entertainment violence on children which said unequivocally that "the conclusion of the public health community, based on over 30 years of research, is that viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behavior, particularly in children."
Sadly, we are no longer talking about cold, impersonal statistics or scientific theories. We are talking about the real lives affected -- or ended -- because the entertainment industry coolly, wrongly insists that its product does not influence children to behave violently. Following are just a few chilling examples of the real-life cost of Hollywood's "entertainment."
-- The Associated Press reported that Mario Padilla, 17, and his cousin Samuel Ramirez, 16, were obsessed with the horror movie "Scream" and spoke of "doing a 'Scream'" or "busting a 'Scream'" -- committing a murder. In 1998, they did so, killing Padilla's mother, Gina Castillo. Ramirez held Castillo down as her son stabbed her more than 45 times with four different knives and a screwdriver.
-- A column in the Sunday Times of London said that in Dallas, a 14-year-old boy decapitated a young girl after seeing "Natural Born Killers." The boy told friends he wanted to become famous like ''the natural-born killers in the movie.''
-- According to the Orlando Sentinel, two teens, Mighty T. Howell, 17, and Danyelle T. Wiley, 18, watched "Menace II Society" before attempting to rob 50-year-old Roger Buchholz, who was shot to death as he tried to drive away from them. In sentencing the teens, a judge said, "What we have is two kids who decided to see a movie and write their own sequel."
-- The Lancaster (Pa.) New Era reported that four teenagers arrested for the fatal 1996 shooting of a convenience-store manager appeared to have been inspired by the Tupac Shakur movie "Juice." The boys, like the characters in the movie, dressed in dark-blue, hooded sweatshirts and, as in the movie, claimed they shot the manager to impress a gang.
-- According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, 11-year-old Bryce Dockendorff hanged himself in 1998 while trying to re-enact a scene from "South Park" in which one character, Kenny, dies by hanging. (Kenny is violently killed in every episode of the series.) During an interview on NBC's "Today," Bryce's mother said that "the day before my son's death, he was acting like the character, and (his friends) said, 'Well, if you're Kenny, then you have to die.' And he said, 'That's OK, I'll be back next week.'"
-- A 1999 Detroit News column said that the previous year, two teens watched an incest-themed episode of "The Jerry Springer Show," then repeatedly raped their 8-year-old half-sister.
-- The Albuquerque Journal reported that one morning in 1995, 17-year-old Jamie Rouse listened to a CD by death-metal band Morbid Angel as he drove to his high school in Lynnville, Tenn. At the school, he shot and killed a teacher and a 14-year-old girl with a .22-caliber rifle and wounded a second teacher. Rouse said that death-metal music, with lyrics like "The Earth's left burning/I call death/Death is answering me/And a world betrayed is black forever" was a factor in the shooting.
-- According to the Associated Press, in 1998, Josh Cain, 19, and his half-brother Trevor Walraven, 15, both avid fans of Marilyn Manson, murdered Bill Hull execution-style after stealing his car. Detectives found the following lyrics from Manson's song "Portrait of an American Family" copied in Cain's handwriting: "Dealing with insanity/Smoking pot, hating this (expletive) world/Murder is the answer/I only kill to know I'm alive."
They say that a high percentage of paper money in the United States carries traces of cocaine. The money Hollywood makes off the films, TV shows and recordings mentioned is carrying traces of blood.