In an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan, Joashua Cooke, who is currently in jail for killing his parents in 2003, discussed the influence that “The Matrix” and violent video games had on him.
“‘The Matrix’ impacted me a lot. When I would watch “The Matrix,” I would see myself in that role. I would see myself shooting the bullies and people who had hurt me in my life. And this movie was a type of a release of aggression, it made me feel better when I would watch it. So I watched this movie hundreds of times.”
Cooke is then asked about video games as well saying “The video games were the same – played the same part. Video games like ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Blood Rain,’ ‘Resident Evil,’ ‘Doom,’ ‘Quake,’ shooter games. When I would play these games, it did a lot for me mentally for I could release my aggression with these games. I could almost bring my fantasies to fruition. The way I would immerse myself in these games, sometimes I would play them 12 to 15 hours a day without leaving my room. I would have food and all kinds of things stashed in my room so I wouldn’t have to leave.”
As someone who consumes a large amount of violent media I watched this very skeptically. Piers Morgan is someone who I don’t really trust for fair coverage of a story about violent media and he seems to be prodding for controversial comments about how “The Matrix” and violent games led this person to murder. In the end though I think Morgan failed and the truth came out. Statements like “I could release my aggression with these games” made me see that Cooke wasn’t blaming the violent media (although he might try to do that come parole time) but was actually saying that they helped him deal with the violence that was inside of him.
While that might not be what the audience and host take away from this interview I saw in it something that I have been arguing ever since my younger days of playing “Grand Theft Auto” and watching “Alien” before I was of an age where I could have purchased either without my parents approval. Whenever I picked up a violent game or watched a violent movie I didn’t feel more violent afterward. I used them to vent my frustrations at the world and experience violent things that otherwise would scar and traumatize me if they were to happen in real life.
While Joshua Cooke took his obsessions too far and eventually acted out in a very horrific way even he doesn’t seem to feel as though the violent media he consumed led him to do these terrible things. Rather, it seems like people who have violent tendencies and thoughts gravitate toward media that portrays these acts in exciting ways. It is also worth discussing whether being able to experience these things in a safe environment might be helping individuals who otherwise would have no outlet for the violent thoughts and feelings they are experiencing in their lives.