The question for many who follow popular culture is what the cumulative impact of so much violence is on a user’s brain, particularly someone mentally vulnerable.
U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, questioned on Fox News Channel last weekend, said he believes the violent content causes people who use it to be more violent. President Obama’s adviser, David Axelrod, tweeted that he’s in favor of gun control, ‘‘but shouldn’t we also question marketing murder as a game?’’
In a junket promoting his new movie ‘‘Django Unchained,’’ actor Jamie Foxx said he believes violence in films does have an impact on society.
His director, Quentin Tarantino, batted down such concerns. ‘‘It’s a western,’’ he said. ‘‘Give me a break.’’ Associated Press movie critic David Germain described ‘‘Django Unchained’’ as containing ‘‘barrels of squishing, squirting blood.’’
Violence in video games seems more and more realistic all the time, notes Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University. Video game makers have even consulted doctors to ask what it would look like if a person was shot in the arm — how the blood would spurt out — in order to make the action seem real, he said.
Bushman conducted a study that he said showed that a person who played violent video games three days in a row showed more aggressive and hostile behavior than people who weren’t playing. It’s not certain what the impact would be on people who played these games for years because testing that ‘‘isn’t practical or ethical,’’ he said.
An organization called GamerFitNation has called for a one-day ‘‘cease fire’’ on Friday, asking video game players to refrain from playing violent video games on the one-week anniversary of the Newtown shootings.
Bushman understands the thirst for answers.
‘‘Violent behavior is a very complex thing,’’ he said, ‘‘and when it happens, you want to say what the cause is. And it’s not so simple.’’
Lindsay Cross, a Fort Wayne, Ind., woman who writes for the ‘‘Mommyish’’ blog, said it’s important for parents to talk to children about games they are playing and movies they are watching.
‘‘We always want there to be something to do to protect our kids,’’ she said, and violent media is right there as a convenient scapegoat. ‘‘It makes us feel like we’re doing something to help. It’s a natural reaction.’’
At the same time, it’s hard to overlook the millions of people who enjoy these games, shows and movies and don’t turn into violent killers, she said.
For whatever concern that politicians and moral leaders show about violent media content, it’s those millions of users and viewers who will ultimately decide whether gore stays on the menu, said Marty Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication.
If fans lose interest, so will Hollywood, he said.
‘‘Hollywood is exquisitely reactive to the marketplace,’’ he said.
Associated Press Movie Critic Christy Lemire in Los Angeles, Television Writer Frazier Moore in New York and writer Lou Kesten in Washington contributed to this report.