How violence in television shows and games has numbed some to the act of killing
Today’s television shows and video games glorify violence, gore and murder. Ease of access to these forms of entertainment media give an unsafe outlet to the mentally unstable and allow them to grasp hold of these fabricated realities. With the rise of television shows such as “Hannibal,” “Bates Motel” and “American Horror Story,” media is slowly incorporating serial violence into our everyday lives.
Recently, Steven Miles, 17, stabbed and dismembered his 17-year-old girlfriend due to his obsession with crime series “Dexter.” Diagnosed with autistic syndrome, Miles created an alter ego named Ed. He blamed this persona for the murder.He said, “Ed made me do something bad,” to his sister almost an hour after he committed the crime. Miles is sentenced to 25 years in prison for the attack on Elizabeth Thomas, who he stabbed in the head and back, dismembering her legs and arms, wrapping them in cling-wrap and putting them in bags.
According to the National Autistic Society, those with autism sometimes develop obsessions with various skills, people or television shows. In Miles’ case, his autism caused him to develop an unhealthy dependency on the show, which led him to commit the brutal crime.
Another instance is James Holmes, the Aurora cinema shooter. Holmes, 27, was convicted on 24 counts of murder for shooting 12 people and injuring 70 at a movie theater in Colorado. He was examined and professionally diagnosed with schizophrenia, labeled psychotic and declared legally insane. Holmes had been obsessed with the idea of mass killing since childhood, according to BBC News. In an attempt to reference the infamous Batman villain, the Joker, he dyed his hair orange and opened fire at a showing of “The Dark Night Rises.”
In an attempt to recreate the horror game “Slender Man”, two Wisconsin teens stabbed their classmate 19 times, and left her for dead in the woods. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, both 13 years old, plotted for months to kill their classmate, and are to be tried as adults for committing an “adult crime.” Geyser was diagnosed with early onset schizophrenia, and Weier had a delusional disorder in 2014, according to the Washington Post.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Richard Martinez, a Denver forensic psychiatrist, said, “(the serial-killer phenomena) is rare, and never glamorous as portrayed in these shows. I’m not sure the television version captures the pain and suffering, the aftermath of these stories.”
Entertainment media has played a key role in advancing the normalization of violence and murder in society. Martinez explains that it is the absence of a moral compass —the empathy and compassion,—that makes these shows so intriguing to society and potentially a dangerous fixation that could lead