'The Matrix' Copycats

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'The Matrix' Copycats
A Bad Influence?

Researchers who study the influence of movies and other media on social behavior have varying opinions on whether viewing or reading about crimes influences real-life behavior. However, they agree that people who commit copycat crimes do seem to be affected by exposure to knowledge of violent crimes through movies, television and other media, which may stimulate them to pattern their violent behavior in certain ways [source: Greek].

The 1999 movie "The Matrix" was a box office hit that inspired some fans to wear long, black trench coats and slick sunglasses -- just like Neo, the movie's main character. Played by Keanu Reeves, Neo toggles between a computer-simulated world called the Matrix, where he works as a computer programmer, and the real world, where he becomes a hero bent on violently and forcibly freeing humans who have been subverted by technology. Unfortunately, the movie and its sequels also may have inspired some copycat killings, too.

In September 2002, Vadim Mieseges murdered his landlord in California and claimed he'd been in the Matrix during the act. That same fall, Lee Boyd, who had been arrested for 10 deadly sniper shootings near Washington, D.C., gave homage to "The Matrix" in sketches he made while in jail. In February 2003, Virginian Joshua Cooke said he lived in the Matrix when he murdered his parents. In July 2002, Tonda Lynn Ansley shot and killed her landlord. The Ohio resident then told police her landlord had been involved in a conspiracy to brainwash and murder her, just as Neo is persecuted in "The Matrix" [source: Bean].

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