Violence in Film Research


It seemed I was always getting mixed-up in some kind of intriguing and stimulating project. One of the California Senators was interested in the effect violence in film was having on people, especially youth. I was surprised to get a call from him one day.

"Mr. McMurry," he explained, "Iím trying to get together some feature films that contain scenes of extreme violence. Could you help me?"

I thought such a project had some merit, so why not cooperate. I understood that he was planning to introduce some kind of a bill that might limit the use of violence in films.

I went right to work selecting and viewing examples of what he called "extreme and unnecessary violent" films. The cinema staff and also distributors of feature films cooperated with me. The Senator paid all my expenses and I had fun doing the job. I do have to admit that at times some of the scenes were really more than I enjoyed viewing.

So far so good! I presented him with lots of information that I had been able to collect, and then another surprise phone call came.

"Mr. McMurry, Iíll come to USC and I'd like you to make a presentation about this material you have gathered. We'll evaluate what you have. Then I'd like you to make similar presentations in New York, and, finally, in Sacramento to support my impending legislation."

Everything went along fine at USC and in New York. Then, things blew up! When the Universityís lawyer learned what I was doing, he was hopping mad.

"What makes you think you are qualified to make such presentations? What credentials do you have to enable you to do such research? You are interfering with some very important activities involving some of the University's influential clients."

Boy, was I in trouble! I had already agreed to attend the hearing in Sacramento. What was I going to do?

What a way to put me down. I knew he had the upper hand and I could do absolutely nothing about it.

"Iíll tell you what I am going to do. Iíll prepare a written statement for you to read indicating that your work is at this time inconclusive and not yet complete," the lawyer said.

Of course, I followed his instructions.

I called the Senator right away and gave him the bad news. He was very apologist as he said, "Iím sorry, Mr. McMurry, that I have put you in such a situation. Donít worry about it. Go ahead, come to Sacramento and read the prepared statement. You have done a good job for me, and I thank you for your contribution."

That made me feel much better. I also learned a lesson over the affair: "Donít get mixed up in University politics!"

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