Two notorious producers, John Grisham and Oliver Stone, address violence in the movie industry, and who should be accountable for its effects. Both are known for their controversial movies. Grisham writes books that have been made into films, and Stone is a writer and director who is acclaimed for Platoon (1986), JFK (1991), and Natural Born Killers (1994). One case in particular receives scrutiny by them. It involves two adolescents who killed two other people at random. The teenagers then sued Stone, claiming that his movie, Natural Born Killers, had caused them to go out on a murderous rampage. Ironically, John Grisham, who is also a practicing attorney, promotes this case. In Grisham's essay, "Unnatural Killers," he criticizes Stone for making such a violent movie and believes that filmmakers should be held legally responsible for the repercussions of their works. Stone disagrees and responds with his rebuttal entitled, "Memo to John Grisham: What's Next - 'A Movie Made Me Do It'?"

In "Unnatural Killers," the author, John Grisham, begins by stating his personal involvement in the case by knowing one of the victims involved, Bill Savage. He goes on to describe the two perpetrators: a girl, Sarah Edmondson, and a boy, Ben Darras. Edmondson came from a well-to-do family deeply involved in law-making, had a troubled history of serious drug abuse that started at a young age, and was put into psychiatric treatment. Darras, however, grew up in a life of poverty, had an alcoholic father who divorced twice and later committed suicide, and shared a past of drugs and psychiatric rehabilitation. These two are compared to the "heroes" in Stone's film, who also go on a killing spree across the country. Despite Edmondson's and Darras’ background, he says that they have "no history of violence [ ... and that ] their crime spree was totally out of character" prior to watching the movie (Grisham 571). Grisham concludes that although "the film wasn't made with the intent of stimulating [ ... ] young people to commit a crime [ ... ] such a result can hardly be surprising." (572).

Conversely, Oliver Stone declares that Grisham's search for shifting the blame is akin to a witch-hunt. He points out that many factors are involved in influencing someone, so no solitary thing can be said to be the cause. Some of the components that Stone mentions are a "negligent or abusive upbringing [ , ... ] defects in their psyche [ , ... ] parents, school, and peers." (577). Unlike in Grisham's version, the effects of Edmondson's and Darras’ turbulent histories are acknowledged. They had been abusing themselves and rebelling against their families since youth, and, likewise, the relationship between them was strained by the potential for violence. Stone maintains they would have been inevitably triggered into committing the crime, " [ ... ] whether they had seen Natural Born Killers or The Green Berets or a Tom and Jerry cartoon the night before" (577). Consequently, Grisham upholds that the film should not have been made, and Stone should be held responsible for provoking Edmonson and Darras because " there exists a direct causal link between the movie Natural Born Killers and the death of Bill Savage." (573). He offers two solutions for regulating the movie industry and filmmakers like Stone: boycott or lawsuit. Grisham states that a boycott will be ineffective, so the only choice left will be to sue the makers of a movie. He also argues that only after many lawsuits are filed and large sums of money given in settlement will Hollywood begin censoring itself. Stone counters and asserts, "An elementary principle of our civilization is that people are responsible for their own actions." (577). He thinks that if Grisham is allowed to enact his vision of the world, stifling both art and artists, it will be apocalyptic. Grisham and Stone agree that the media can be powerful. Both have strong opinions about how much influence a movie has and whether responsibility should rest with the movie industry or on the viewers. Grisham champions the two teenagers' cause to hold Natural Born Killers at fault for their crimes, with grander implications of all of Hollywood being liable for copycat crimes. Stone vehemently disagrees, saying that what Grisham suggests is the very worst kind of censorship -- "that a particular work of art should have never been allowed to be made." (578). He also says that responsibility lies with those who choose to act on what they see. These two influential artists elucidate the extremes of the murky issue of violence in the media.
Grisham, John. “Unnatural Killers.” “Patterns for College Writing.” Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2001. p. 566 – 573. Stone, Oliver. “Memo to John Grisham: What’s Next ¾ ‘A Movie Made Me Do It’?” “Patterns for College Writing.” Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. Boston, Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2001. p. 576 – 578.

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