Letter: Video nasties: the case for protecting children, a false advertising analogy

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andy Hickford asks (Letters, 5 April) why millions are spent on advertising if our behaviour is not affected by what we see on our TV screens. Sceptics like myself would never argue that there are no effects on behaviour. A great deal surely depends on the message of the medium, and the obvious message inherent in most advertisements is, 'You must go out and buy this product/service.'

Those believing in a causal link between videos and crime presume that there is an equally basic message in violent films, ie, 'You must go out and commit heinous acts, like murder.' If any film was made with such blatantly evil intent, I fail to see how it could pass our censorship laws.

If it is argued that the influence of violent films is more subtle, then the minds of many are far more fickle and unpredictable than we would like to think. In my capacity as a voluntary worker, dealing with vulnerable psychotic individuals, I can recall one highly disturbed man being incited to extreme violence by, ironically, the arrival of innocuous direct mail advertising on his door mat. I suspect a call to ban 'junk' mail would be welcomed by many of us, but surely not because it is a direct cause of violence.

Yours sincerely,

RICHARD WARD

London, SE13

5 April

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