News Article

News Article

Bad Inspiration: Five Movies and the Crimes They (Allegedly) Inspired

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I do not buy the claims that some people make, saying that movies made people commit heinous crimes. It may be harder to dispute this idea with some of the crimes listed below, but if a person commits a crime, they are going to commit a crime whether they watched A Clockwork Orange or Spongebob Squarepants. Blaming a crime on media is just a cheap excuse, a way to shift blame and try to make sense out of senseless acts of violence. But these crimes were committed in the manner of horror movies, not in a pineapple under the sea.

Scream

Wes Craven's slasher satire has been blamed in a number of murders, if for no other reason than the killers wore the mask or the DVDs were found in the possessions of the criminal. In Los Angeles, a woman was killed by her son and her nephew. The boys claimed to have been inspired by Scream and Scream 2. They wanted to buy Ghostface costumes, but couldn't afford them. In England, a pair of teenagers stabbed their younger friend and left him to die. He was found by a passerby and survived the attack, testifying that he believed Scream was the inspiration for the attack. In France, a boy dressed as Ghostface killed his parents, while in Florida, a man shot a woman to death while wearing a Ghostface mask.

Queen of the Damned

22-year-old Alan Menzies was obsessed with the film Queen of the Damned, the 2002 film based on the Anne Rice novel. Friends and family should have realized there was a problem immediately, because that film was terrible. Menzies believed the eponymous queen was speaking to him and visiting him in the night. He believed that the queen would grant him immortality if he killed for her. Menzies claims he snapped when his friend Thomas McKendrick - the guy who introduced Menzies to the film in the first place - spoke against his queen. Menzies stabbed his friend to death, drank his blood to be bonded with his queen, and buried McKendrick in a shallow grave. A court found him guilty and sentenced him to a minimum of 18 years in prison.

Dexter

In 2009, a 17-year-old boy, Andrew Conley, strangled his 10-year-old brother, Conner, to death. The teenager told police that he and his brother were wrestling when he began to strangle the younger boy until he passed out. Andrew continued choking the child for 20 minutes, then wrapped him in plastic bags, banged his head a couple times to make sure he was dead, and threw him in the trunk of the car. Andrew claimed he had had homicidal fantasies since eighth grade and felt a connection with Dexter, that he had a "monster" inside of him. He seemed to relate to the sociopathic aspects of Dexter's character. Of course, Dexter didn't kill his brother until after he had murdered dozens of people. Dexter restricted his killings to people who deserved it; people who had already taken a life. Andrew never said what it was that led him to kill his brother. He pled guilty to first-degree murder and has been sentenced to life in prison.

Clockwork Orange

Based on the dystopian Anthony Burgess novel about youth gangs run amok in England, Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange was blamed for causing a bit of the ol' ultra-violence across Britain. Released in 1972, it was either lauded as brilliant social commentary or reviled for the glorification of violence; there was no in-between. Virtually all violent crime committed by youth in Britain in the early and mid 1970s was blamed on A Clockwork Orange. The first crime to be reported as having been inspired by the film was the case of 16-year-old named James Palmer who beat a homeless man to death. After his arrest, Palmer admitted to having never seen the film. The only other crime that can be directly linked to A Clockwork Orange was the attack of a Dutch girl in 1973. The girl was gang-raped while her attackers hummed "Singin' in the Rain," in tableau that came directly from the film. Disturbed both by the violence inspired by his film and the press's fabricated hysteria, and tired of the death threats, Kubrick made the decision to ban the film outright in England. He even tried to block the usage of clips in a documentary at one point (he was not successful). The film did not return to circulation in England until 2001 - after Kubrick's death.

Natural Born Killers

Natural Born Killers could be considered the American equivalent of A Clockwork Orange in the amount of violence it contained and the amount of controversy it inspired. Directed by Oliver Stone, the film followed a pair of spree killers and the media attention that made them into superstars. Since the film's release in 1994, at least a dozen murders have been associated with Natural Born Killers, including the Columbine School massacre. Most of these crime sprees were linked to NBK purely because the killer or killers had watched the film multiple times in the weeks leading up to their crimes. Oliver Stone and Warner Bros. were named in at least two lawsuits claiming that the director and studio should have known that the film would encourage similar violent acts. Both lawsuits were dismissed.

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