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“The Dark Side of Entertainment: Inspiring Real-World Violence?”

The entertainment industry, including series and movies, plays a significant role in shaping popular culture and influencing societal norms. While many films and TV shows explore dark and violent themes for dramatic effect, it is important to examine the potential impact they may have on individuals and society. In this article, we will delve into the discussion surrounding series and movies that depict various ways to kill humans and the potential influence they may have on inspiring real-world violence.

Popular series and movies such as Breaking Bad, The Boys, Dexter, How to Get Away with Murder, and You, delve into the dark realms of crime. These shows often explore the dynamics of criminal behavior, delving into the psychology of perpetrators and the intricacies of their actions. While they may provide gripping storylines and showcase the challenges faced by law enforcement, it is essential to approach them with caution and critical thinking. These shows may, to some extent, illustrate the process of committing a crime and the potential consequences. However, it is important to distinguish between fiction and reality.

For example, A murder case that took place in Delhi, India, showed eerily similarities with an American crime series on the details of how the accused committed the crime. A man named Aftab Poonawala, the accused, allegedly confessed to the Delhi police that he watched was inspired by ‘Dexter‘, a popular American vigilante crime show that ran from 2006 to 2013. Michael C. Hall played Dexter Morgan — a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police Department by day, a vigilante serial killer by night — who picked his victims based on their crimes and meted out his own justice by killing them before hacking their bodies into smaller pieces, making it easier for him to dispose and to cover his tracks Similarly, 28-year-old Aftab Poonawalla confessed to murdering his live-in partner, Shraddha Walkar, 26, in May. He then chopped her body into 35 pieces and stored them in a newly-purchased fridge, before setting out at night to dispose of the parts carried in multiple polybags. This is where the similarity between Dexter and Poonawalla ends. The fictional character sees himself as a one-man judge, jury and executioner — but only for those who have committed crimes that tend to go unpunished.

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This led to a ripple effect in India where a number of crimes started popping up with the similarities to the Delhi Shraddha murder case.

In November, 2022, Prince Yadav was arrested in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, for the murder of his former girlfriend, Aradhana Prajapati. After dating for nearly two years, Prince allegedly killed Aradhana and dismembered her body, chopping her body, packed the parts in a plastic bag and dumped it in a well outside the village. In the same month, another gruesome murder occurred in West Bengal’s Baruipur. Ujjwal Chakraborty, who allegedly tortured his wife and son, was killed by them. The father refused to give Rs. 3000 to his son to appear for an exam which led to a fight. During a heated exchange, Chakraborty slapped his son, who retaliated. The father was pushed and after his head hit a chair, he was strangled to death. The mother and son then cut up the body into six pieces. The son carried them in packages and cycled across Baruipur and scattered them.

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In February, 2023; Delhi man killed his live-in partner, stored body in fridge and got married the same day. A man was arrested by Delhi Police for allegedly strangulating his live-in partner with a data cable in a car and storing her body in a refrigerator at his dhaba on the outskirts of Mitraon village in Najafgarh.

In June, 2022; The accused, Manoj Sane, who lived in Mira-Road, Mumbai, killed her live-in partner Saraswati Vaidya and chopped her into pieces using a tree cutter. According to the Police, the accused boiled pieces of her body in a pressure cooker and later filled them into plastic bags to dispose of them. Buckets and vessels with boiled and roasted flesh, bones, electric cutter, plastic bags, ponytail with flowers were found in their apartment.

While none of the accused has confessed to having copied Aftab, there is an uncanny resemblance in the way the killings were committed. In criminology, it’s called copycat crimes. Similarities can be seen between the crime series/movies and real-life incidents in the factors such as Method of killing, Dismemberment and Disposal, The Double Life, and Psychological Complexity.

Desensitization and Desensitization Theory:

One of the arguments against violent media is the potential for desensitization. Desensitization occurs when individuals become less emotionally responsive to violence due to repeated exposure, leading to a diminished sense of empathy. Critics argue that frequent exposure to violent content may make individuals more tolerant of aggression and less likely to view violence as morally reprehensible.

Catharsis Hypothesis:

On the other hand, proponents of violent media argue for the catharsis hypothesis. According to this theory, engaging with violent content in a controlled and fictional setting provides an outlet for aggression, allowing individuals to release their violent impulses vicariously. It suggests that violent media can serve as a means of purging violent thoughts and reducing the likelihood of real-world violence.

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Real-World Influence:

While the debate regarding the influence of violent media on real-world behavior is complex and ongoing, it is essential to acknowledge that media alone cannot be solely blamed for inspiring violent actions. Multiple factors contribute to criminal behavior, including individual predispositions, social environment, mental health, and more.

Responsibility of Filmmakers and Media Consumers:

Filmmakers have a responsibility to strike a balance between artistic expression and ethical considerations. While creative freedom is crucial, it is equally important to be mindful of the potential consequences of glorifying violence or providing detailed instructions on harmful activities. Responsible storytelling can provide thought-provoking narratives without explicitly promoting violence.

As media consumers, it is essential for individuals to develop critical thinking skills and media literacy. Being aware of the potential impact of violent media and making informed choices about the content we consume can help mitigate any negative effects.

Conclusion: The relationship between violent media and real-world violence remains a complex and nuanced topic. While some studies suggest a correlation between exposure to violent media and aggressive behavior, it is crucial to consider the multifaceted nature of violence and its underlying causes. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with both filmmakers and media consumers to foster a culture that prioritizes responsible storytelling and critical engagement with violent content. By doing so, we can better understand the potential effects of media and work towards creating a safer and more informed society.

By, Varsha P.

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