Personal Accountability

If you see something violent in a movie, video game or on TV and you imitate it – who is responsible? This is an interesting question, and one that bears some serious thought.

If a kidnapper imitates something she saw in a movie, are the moviemakers responsible for her actions? For a lot of people, that answer is “no.” If a murderer says he was inspired by something he saw on a TV show, is the TV show responsible? It’s a question that is being presented to juries these days. (If you are interested, check out “Twinkie Defense” on the internet.)

Should our entertainment media aim for high-quality productions that improve character and inspire us to live better lives? A lot of people would say “yes.” But the best way to ensure that this happens is to “vote with your feet” so to speak. In other words, refrain from buying products sponsoring shows that conflict with your moral values, and write to the sponsors telling them how you feel. Recent events have proven that this is an effective way to be heard.

The same goes for movies. Don’t plunk your money down at the box office if you’re concerned about the movie’s message, no matter how long the lines are to get in the door. And let’s not be confused about personal accountability, either. Except possibly in the case of a genuine and serious mental illness, each of us is responsible for our own actions, no matter what the circumstances.

It does no one any good to blame a TV show, a movie, the media, the so-called “system,” or society in general for individual acts of violence or immorality. Personal accountability is the cornerstone of a healthy society just as it is an essential part of a healthy individual.