Video Games Are to Blame?

September 17, 2013 Updated: September 17, 2013

Could violent video games ultimately be to blame for the Navy Yard shooting that killed 13 on Monday?

War and violence are a part of our culture and always have been from ancient wars to the American Revolution to Afghanistan. But, the disturbing acts of violence by a person, such as Aaron Alexis, against his own people are something different. This is the symptom of a sick culture.

People close to Alexis have said that he spent long hours playing violent videogames. The same is true for a string of other shooters such as the Sandy Hook, Conn. shooter Adam Lanza and Aurora, Colo. shooter James Holmes.

Obviously, video games are partially to blame; monkey see, monkey do. But, trying to move toward some kind of ban is really missing the point. Such a targeted approach may be effective for parents raising children but is not practical for all 300 million in the United States.

It is not merely that these few individuals, Alexis, Lanza, and Holmes, are seeking out violent forms of entertainment; it is that the American people themselves are seeking out violent movies, music, video games, television, and books. There are bound to be people who take things too far. It should not be that surprising.

My favorite forms of entertainment are classical poetry, classical music, and classical art. I’m not only referring to the works of the masters of the past but also the classical forms themselves that some people are still using to create new and exciting works today.

People’s, especially younger people’s, general impressions of these art forms is that they are boring, dull, and out-of-date. “Yeah, that’s nice, so what’s next?” They are missing the point. They take their initial reaction to them as the most important and miss the great opportunity that classical art forms offer.

Keep reading, keep listening, and keep looking. It will stop being boring and something magical does in fact unfold. Behind these classical forms of entertainment is a deep sense of what is proper (not shooting people on your side), a deep sense of in-person communal entertainment (not locking yourself in the room all day and playing video games), and a deep sense of meaning shared by others (not acting out personal fantasies). This is good for the viewer and for everyone he or she comes into contact with. You are actively shaping who you are and what defines you for the better.

If everyone rediscovered and found new appreciation for classical art forms, then those few crazy people who are inevitably out there wouldn’t be gunning innocent people down for joy. Worst case scenario, they would be reading badly written fiction, listening to 80s music, and watching unrealistic superhero movies. A travesty, yes, but a much healthier one.

Evan Mantyk is an English teacher in New York and president of The Society of Classical Poets.


Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.