Sunday, March 18, 2012

When Fiction Inspires Tragedy

Have you heard the latest awful news about a real-life tragedy allegedly "inspired" by a fictional movie, TV show, or novel? Apparently, a teenager died after gunfire broke out at a houseparty that was similar to the outrageous one in the movie Project X.  We can't blame media for people's stupidity, but it's not the first time that tragic outcomes have resulted from people mimicking what they saw on the screen or read in a book. Sometimes, what they see or read inspires folks to do dumb, dangerous, or criminal things.  Here are a few examples:

The Catcher in the Rye - The J.D. Salinger novel has been referenced by a number of psychopaths, including Mark David Chapman who killed John Lennon.

Child's Play - The horror movie about a killer doll named Chucky apparently motivated a number of criminals, including a notorious Australian serial killer.

The Basketball Diaries - A real-life classroom shooter allegedly quoted a line by Leonard DiCaprio from an eerily similar dream sequence from the film.

A Clockwork Orange - The Stanley Kubrick masterpiece sparked a string of copycats that led to the movie being for all intents and purposes banned from the U.K.

The Collector - The 1960s movie inspired a number of abductions and deaths.

The Deer Hunter - There have actually been cases of people playing Russian Roulette, to deadly results, after seeing this classic.

Jackass - The stunts are dangerous and stupid, but that hasn't stopped some people from ignoring the disclaimers and trying to do the often deadly actions themselves.

The Matrix - Although people have claimed that the Columbine killers were inspired by this science fiction flick (even though I think Heathers has more similarities), a number of other murderers have mentioned it as their motivation.

Money Train - After seeing this film starring Wesley Snipes, someone set fire to a subway worker, replicating a gruesome scene in the movie.

Natural Born Killers - The Oliver Stone movie written by Quentin Tarantino about psychopathic serial killers (played by Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis) sparked a string of copycat murders.

The Program - In the football film, a guy lies down in the middle of a busy highway to prove his manliness (more like his utter stupidity). A couple of people thought it was a good idea to try doing the same thing themselves -- and they were subsequently run over by a truck.

Scream - A murderer actually wore the slasher killer's mask popularized by Wes Craven's horror series.

Superman - Some are just urban legends, but there are actually real cases (one as recently as last year in China) of kids falling to their deaths after trying to fly like the Man of Steel.

Taxi Driver - John Hinckley Jr., channeling Robert DeNiro, tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to impress Jodie Foster.

Those are just some. Let me know of any others.

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