It’s no secret that as our civilization has grown over many millions of years, our belief systems and practices have evolved. These days our pop culture tends to influence individuals in mainly a negative way.
We will begin our journey through the years in 1969 when cult leader Charles Manson ordered his followers to go on a murder spree. He called the spree “Helter Skelter”. Manson claimed to be inspired by the musical group the Beatles, particularly their song, “Helter Skelter”.
In a statement, Paul McCartney the band’s bassist stated the song was about a playground slide. Though Manson claimed the song incited a race war and murder, but the musical group continued to state that the song used a playground slide as a symbol of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire.
Mason stated at his trial that it was The Beatles fault for putting out their music. His statement in court was “These kids listen to this music and pick up the message. It’s subliminal … It is not my music. I hear what it relates. It says ‘Rise.’ It says ‘Kill.’ Why blame it on me? I didn’t write the music.”
Music tends to influence many, but usually in a more positive way. Movies can also influence some in negative ways as well, for example, on March 5th, 1995, 18 year old Sara Edmondson and her boyfriend Benjamin Darras also 18 spent a night together in her family’s Oklahoma cabin and watched the movie Natural Born Killers. Several days later, the pair left the cabin to attend a Grateful Dead concert in Memphis, Tennessee, in their Nissan Maxima were blankets and a .38-caliber revolver.
By March 7th they had arrived in Hernando, Mississippi and killed cotton-mill manager William Savage. Benjamin Darras shot the manager twice in the head at point blank range and then took a piece of blood-stained clothing as a souvenir. They then traveled to Ponchatoula, Louisiana where Sarah Edmondson shot a convenience store cashier, Patsy Byers. Patsy survived the shooting but was quadriplegic as a result.
This case became widely known, because the first victim William Savage was friends with the best-selling author John Grisham. John Grisham very publicly accused Oliver Stone of being an irresponsible film maker as it incited this couple to commit acts of violence.
The second victim, Patsy Byers would go on to file a lawsuit against the two criminals and at one point added Oliver Stone and Time Warner to the lawsuit. Patsy Byers died of cancer in 1997 and the judge seeing the case dismissed the lawsuit stating there was no evidence that the film or film maker incited this violence.
I suppose movies can influence those that are not of full mental capacity, just like Thierry Jaradin. He was a truck driver and apparently influenced by the horror movie, Scream, which caused him to murder a 15 year old from his neighborhood. The victim stopped by his Gerpinnes, Belgium home to exchange movies, Jaradin came on to her and she rejected his advances.
This caused him to put on his Scream costume and grab two kitchen knives. Jaradin stabbed his victim over 30 times while covering her mouth. He then placed her on his bed with a rose in her hand.
That was gruesome… But we have to know these types of people must have underlying mental issues to be influenced by movies and music, take for example, James Holmes, he declared himself to be the Joker as he shot 12 people during a showing of the movie, The Dark Knight.
Of course movies and music aren’t the only pop culture influences…. You can always rely on the internet for some negative influences. On May 31st, 2014 two 12 year old’s in Wisconsin lured a friend to a remote area and stabbed her 19 times in an attempt to impress a mythical character, Slender Man.
Slender man is a fictional creation originally created on the Something Awful online forums. It was a photoshopped image entered into a paranormal image contest. Eventually developed into fan fiction on the Creepy Pasta subreddit.
We can’t forget video games… Grand Theft Auto.
Oh yes, 20 year old Zachary Burgess of Baton Rouge, Louisiana became unsatisfied with his experience and wanted to experience it in real life. He stole a truck with a female passenger still inside, crashed into nine cars and held the passenger for ransom.
But how can we forget the Tide Pod challenge and the Momo Challenge…
In July of 2018 a popular YouTuber uploaded a very creepy video. He had an audience of nearly 1 million subscribers. The video consisted of an image of a half-woman, half-bird creature. The YouTuber claimed he was trying to contact this creature. The creature was named Momo and according to the story there are anonymous WhatsApp numbers floating around Facebook and if you answer these numbers you will be greeted by the creature and asked to accept the Momo Challenge. Then supposedly the creature begins challenging the individual to random challenges and then ultimately challenging them to commit suicide.