A scene from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
The multi-billion-dollar videogame industry is under
scrutiny after Hollywood cancelled, postponed or played down a
slew of movies and TV shows with violent content in the wake of
last week's shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
In Washington, Senator John Rockefeller called for a national
study of the impact of violent videogames on children and a
review of the rating system.
Although investigators in Newtown, Connecticut, have given no
motive for Friday's shooting rampage, some U.S. media have
reported that the 20-year-old gunman played popular videogame
Call of Duty - in which players conduct simulated
warfare missions - in the basement of his home.
The gunman, Adam Lanza, killed himself at the scene after
gunning down 20 young children, six school employees and his
Rockefeller said he had long been concerned about the impact
of violent games and videos on children.
"Major corporations, including the video game industry, make
billions on marketing and selling violent content to
children. They have a responsibility to protect our
children," Rockefeller said in a statement.
The Entertainment Software Association, which represents the
$78 billion U.S. videogame industry, on Wednesday offered its
"heartfelt prayers and condolences" to the Newtown families.
But it said in a statement that "the search for meaningful
solutions must consider the broad range of actual factors
that may have contributed to this tragedy.
"Any such study needs to include the years of extensive
research that has shown no connection between entertainment
and real-life violence," the association said.
New Call of Duty, Halo rake in billions
Activision Blizzard's latest title in its Call of Duty
franchise - Call of Duty: Black Ops II - hit $US1
billion in sales two weeks after its launch last month.
Other popular videogames include Microsoft's Halo 4,
in which players kill evil aliens. The game racked up $US220
million in global sales on its launch day in November.
Mike Hickey, an analyst at National Alliance Capital Markets,
said backlashes against videogames were not rare, but he was
unaware of an instance of games being pulled off store
shelves in the past.
When the Columbine school shooting happened in 1999, there
was a similar outcry because the two perpetrators were
students who played the shooter game Doom, Hickey told
Executives at Hollywood movie studios and TV networks have
mostly laid low this week as Americans seek answers to the
Newtown slaughter, and discuss how to prevent similar gun
However, content seen as sensitive has been pulled from the
airwaves, including an episode of the SyFy TV series
Haven that contained violent scenes in a high school
setting, and the premiere next week of a TLC show called
Best Funeral Ever.
Discovery Channel canceled a third season of its reality
series American Guns about a family of gun makers.
Some radio stations stopped playing pop star Ke$ha's bubbly
new single Die Young to avoid any potential offense.
Glitzy red carpet premieres for violent upcoming new movies
Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise, and Django
Unchained starring Jamie Foxx, were canceled out of
respect for the Newtown victims, but both movies will open in
theaters as planned in the next seven days.
Insensitive today, OK tomorrow?
The Parents TV Council praised the response of the
entertainment industry this week, but said it shouldn't be
confined to the immediate aftermath of such tragedies.
"If a television network changes its programming because of
content that could be insensitive today, why would that same
content be appropriate at a later time?," council president
Tim Winter said in a statement.
"If producers and performers rightly question whether their
industry is complicit in creating a violent media culture
that feeds real-life tragedies, why would there be a later
time to produce and distribute more of it?," Winter added.
Most major Hollywood stars have remained silent about the
potential influence of violent movies on U.S. society. But
Django Unchained star Foxx was quoted as saying the
movie industry should not shirk its responsibility.
"We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or
anything that we do doesn't have a sort of influence," Foxx
was quoted as saying while promoting the film in New York.
Director Quentin Tarantino called the Newtown shootings "a
horrible tragedy," but in an interview with CNN on Monday
(local time) he declined to link screen violence with real
"This has gone back all the way down to Shakespeare's days
... when there's violence in the street, the cry becomes
'blame the playmaker.' And you know, I actually think that's
a very facile argument to pin on something that's a real life
tragedy," Tarantino said.