Is violent media to blame for Colorado shooting?

Posted at 5:35 PM, Jul 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-21 00:48:52-04

SALT LAKE CITY - After a gunman opened fire in a Colorado movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring dozens, many are left wondering what triggered the mass shooting. Is violent media to blame for his actions?

24-year-old James Holmes allegedly entered an Aurora, Colo., movie theater on Friday morning and fired several dozen rounds into a theater full of people attending an early-morning screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," leaving at least 12 dead and 50 wounded.

Holmes had reportedly dyed his hair red and referred to himself as The Joker, a villain in the Batman series.

"This fellow apparently identified himself as The Joker; that's a character in one of the Batman films, so that film has provided for him the resource of that character in which he somehow or another saw himself playing," said University of Utah professor James Anderson.

Little is known at this time about Holmes' personality and interests, but Anderson, who has studied media and violence, says violence in movies, on television, in video games and through other media isn't to blame for the shooting.

"Can you take a normal person stick them in a movie theatre and have them watch Batman five times and really come out and be a deranged killer? The answer to that is no, that's not going to happen," Anderson said.

"We have 300 million people in this country. More than that 97 percent of them have access to a television so it just doesn't make any sense to say that all of these people are at risk of becoming serial killers because they participate in television."

Anderson says we seek out violence in movies because it's in contrast to what our ordinary life is like.