It’s a twisty path we thread when we argue that popular culture has an impact in the real world.
I believe, firmly, that what we see in movies and on television, what we read in the few books that become mass phenomena these days do shape our assumptions about what is normal and what is real, that we can help build the dream of a more just and inclusive world and work through the nightmares we may be building for ourselves.
I do not believe that mass culture makes individual killers pick up guns and build bombs and murder the diplomatic representatives of foreign nations. But that doesn’t mean that popular culture can’t enrage people, that certain narratives and characters can’t become the stones disturbed minds use to sharpen their views of the world, and that movies can’t become a tool by which people ficitonalize themselves.
Alyssa Rosenberg on death by fiction in the “Innocence of Muslim” riots. Her full take.