SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Does graphic violence in movies contribute to violence in society? It’s a question that comes up from time to time, and is again being asked in light of action-packed blockbusters like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty topping the list of notable films during the 2013 awards season.

“No, not at all,” Willie Brown emphatically shot down any suggestion that violence in movies translates directly into violence in society.

Brown, former San Francisco Mayor and one-time State Assembly Speaker, is considered a well-versed film buff, too.

“As a matter of fact,” he surmised, “I think the whole business of violence in the movies… kids go to movies and they know that the violence contained therein is not something that really happens in life.”

“If you talked about what happened in Newtown, in Connecticut, if you talk about what happened at the theater in Colorado, you talk about the shooting that goes on on the streets of Oakland, that’s real for them. But the movie stuff, what Sylvester Stallone does, what Clint Eastwood does, kids know that’s not it.”

As a matter of fact,” Brown continued, “my daughter who’s only 11 now, she wanted to go to the movies. And her mother agreed I could take her to the movies. And when we arrived at the Kabuki, Kill Bill was playing, too. I looked at her, she looked at me, and the mother had disappeared and we were supposed to be going to see a Disney movie. My kid looked and says ‘you want to see Kill Bill, don’t you? So do I.'”

Did they see Kill Bill?

“Absolutely,” he declared. “It’s had no effect on her so far, as a matter of fact it’s instructional for kids because they know that it’s art and that’s all it is and nothing else.”

Political movies, reasoned Brown, can be equally instructional. Case in point: the political epic Lincoln. According to Brown, the politics played out rather realistically in the movie.

“Absolutely. And it’s that way, and it’ll be that way tomorrow. In this democracy, you have to put the votes together and you have to find what motivates a person to vote, sometimes it’s substantive,” he explained. “Most times, it’s that person’s personal interests. And that’s what Lincoln, in that movie, demonstrated. And that’s what I experienced for the 14 and a half years that I worked as speaker.

“Yes, you do (call each other names),” he continued. “You do everything under the sun that you saw in that movie.”

“There’s absolutely no difference in how you secure the votes, whether you are Obama or whether you are Abe Lincoln or whether you are George Washington.”

You can hear KCBS In Depth, a weekly half-hour news interview, Saturdays at 5:30a.m. and Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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