Narrative, not motive: The Matrix defense.

Sorry, folks, I’m not reviewing Revolutions here. I haven’t seen it yet.
It’s interesting to note that, in this article about the increasing number of criminals using The Matrix as part of their insanity plea, the author comes to the film’s defense:

So the film was only one factor among many, from biology to bullying to the fuzzy eyechart that kept Cooke out of the Marines . . . “The Matrix” provided Cooke with a narrative but not a motive. In the end, it hadn’t caused murder.

But the article ends on the following note:

When [the lawyers] do cite pop culture in the courtroom, he says, they’ll spend most of their time talking about another form of entertainment dear to both Josh Cooke and Lee Malvo: violent video games. Like Cooke, Malvo was good at first-person shooter games, especially the Xbox hit “Halo.” He was introduced to them by Muhammad.

“There’s some evidence,” claims Arif, “that Muhammad used them for training purposes.”

To me, this seems to hint that the film is somehow excusable but the game is not. Granted, the experiences of film and gaming are different, the latter being by nature much more interactive. Perhaps this is the idea: because video games (at least the first-person shooters that are generally the target of such anti-violence claims) draw the player in as the primary actor in a simulated world, they have a more powerful effect than the largely passive experience of watching a film. But I’d argue that any good story — be it a novel, a film, or a computer game — draws the reader/watcher/player in, places him in a believeable world, and involves him in that world. You don’t have to have a joystick in your hand to be emotionally invested in a text.
(If the author is suggesting that video games aren’t narratives, I’d point him to this guy, who would no doubt have some opinions on the subject.)
All in all, though, it’s fascinating stuff. It’s a crazy world we live in, folks. At least Warner Bros. seems to have something good to say: “Any attempt to link these crimes with a motion picture . . . is disturbing and irresponsible.” Amen to that, boys. Responsibility. It’s really the bottom line here, isn’t it?


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