It is highlighted within David Gauntlett’s article that it is often the media that is blamed for the inherent violence within society. As noted in numerous psychological research studies such as American Psychology Association, it seems to be a simple solution to shift the blame to the media. However as Gauntlett details, many of these ‘experiments’ look at the media first, rather than the individual. Essentially Gauntlett argues that the media effects model “comes at the problem backwards, by starting with the media and then trying to lasso connections from there on to social beings, rather than the other way around”.
If you have ever heard of Mark David Chapman, the man guilty of murdering John Lennon, then you would know he was supposedly “influenced” by the novel The Catcher in the Rye. This novel is, essentially of teen rebellion. The question is, how does a book about teen angst and rebellion result in the murder of one of the world’s greatest musicians?
From 1961 to 1981 the novel was the most censored book and the second-most taught book in the United States. The book is, however, also considered one of the greatest books of all time. Nevertheless the novel was heavily criticised for influencing Chapman’s assassination of Lennon.
If by taking into account Gauntlett’s argument, a quick google search will let you know that:
“Following the murder, Chapman underwent dozens of assessments by different psychiatrists. He described his anger toward his father who had regularly abused his mother, his identification with Holden Caulfield and with Dorothy of The Wizard of Oz, and his conferences with the “Little People”, an imaginary set of people with whom he interacted and from whom he took guidance. He also provided a list of other celebrities he had thought about killing.”
It is therefore evident that, before identifying the novel Catcher in the Rye as a threat to society, that Chapman himself was hospitalised for mental-illness numerously. As such the immediate condemning speculation of the novel was irrelevant as evidence supports that Chapman was obviously mentally disturbed from his childhood.
Once again, to blame the novel you have to ask yourself this question: Would you kill John Lennon if a novel told you to?