No, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE Didn’t Cause Crime

Though it was pulled from theaters, crimes committed in its name weren’t caused by looking at Alex as a hero.

A Clockwork Orange is playing at Alamo Drafthouses across the country tomorrow. Get your tickets here!

How often do you see a controversial film pulled from theaters by the director himself? Following a series of crimes in England after the release of A Clockwork Orange, that’s exactly what happened. The story of Alex and the atrocities he commits inspired crimes like the rape of a teenaged girl by a band of men to “Singing In the Rain,” the song Alex sings during a gang rape in the film, or a teen dressed as Alex beating another teen. The press called for the film to be pulled and director Stanley Kubrick did just that. It was very hard to see the film in Britain for years afterward. His widow spoke in a documentary about his work, saying it happened because the family was getting death threats.

A Clockwork Orange didn’t cause anyone to commit a crime any more than video games or rock music cause kids to become more violent. However, it’s interesting to look at the appeal of a visually iconic character. Take the Joker; the crimes that he commits in The Dark Knight are atrocious. Despite that, we wear shirts with his face. We love Darth Vader, but he murdered an entire planet. If you were at any conventions this year, you likely saw lots of little girls in costumes inspired by the Suicide Squad’s version of Harley Quinn. How many times have you seen an Alex costume, false eyelashes and all? How many of those Joker, Darth, Harley and Alex fans have murdered someone?

In an interview, psychologist Dr. Janina Scarlet told us, “Someone liking a villain doesn’t necessarily mean that they have a villainous quality to them. I think a lot of us are excited and intrigued by villains just because it’s exciting to explore the naughty side of ourselves. However, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to go out and commit heinous acts. People that are already considering committing something atrocious are likely to look for an opportunity to do so.”

Dr. Scarlet continued, “People behave the way that they want to behave and I don’t believe that a comic book or a particular movie is going to make them be any more or less violent. some people have a propensity for violence so they might seek out certain representations of violence, whether it be through a fictional world, and they might worship these icons, however, fictional characters in themselves do not incite violence. We know that by looking at the particular statistics. For instance, after watching Harry Potter, they don’t necessarily dress up as Deatheaters and start killing people. Some people are more likely to be hateful and prejudiced toward other people and therefore might seek out other representations that might remind them of themselves.”

So why was this film pulled when others weren’t? Kubrick was an artist with rare power in the filmmaking industry. Very few others could have done what he did, though the film’s disappearance from theaters likely prevented no crimes. In fact, some were committed afterward. It’s not that film doesn’t have the power to influence us. Any discussion about representation and its affect on children will tell you that. It’s easy to blame the media instead of looking at the real cause of violence. Death threats to an artist because of their work is something we see all too often these days. It’s sad that there was a generation that wasn’t able to easily watch what is part of a collection of masterworks by a great artist.

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