John Leo’s “When Life Imitates Video”: A Critical Response

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In his article When Life Imitates Video, John Leo argues that violent media is having a negative impact on children. He provides various examples of past events that he believes are linked to violent video games, such as the Kentucky schoolboy shooter and the Colorado Massacre. However, his arguments are largely unsupported and he fails to provide sufficient counterarguments. Leo cites a survey of 900 fourth graders about their favorite media but does not provide the survey itself or its date. He only quotes one psychologist for authority in his article. Overall, the article appears more like a personal rant than a well-researched argument.

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John Leo has a very established position on the effects of violent media on children of this generation. He provides argument after argument about why violent media has taken over our youth. Most of his arguments are recollections of past events that he claims are caused by violent video games.

In one section he tries to link the schoolboy shooter in Kentucky to video games with an accusation that “head shots pay a bonus in many video games” (Leo). Not only is this a farfetched accusation but also he provides no evidence linking the two. Another link he tries to make is between the Colorado Massacre and the game Postal with a quote from the Los Angeles Time’s. In the game, the game ends with the main killer shooting himself in the head after a murderous spree.

Leo claims that since the killers in the Colorado Massacre kill themselves in the same way, there must be a link between the game and the incident. He offers barely any counter arguments, and when he does they are not very sufficient counter arguments, for instance, Leo says “No, there isn’t a direct connection between most murderous games and most murders. ” He cites a survey that questions 900 fourth graders about their favorite media as “widely cited” but fails to cite the survey himself; Leo also doesn’t provide a date for the survey (1).

One thing he does that has some authority behind it is when he quotes a psychologist; this is the only other source he uses throughout the whole article. Between unsupported facts and lengthy connections between reallife incidents and video games, it is hard to consider this article any thing more than a blog entry of a man ranting on about his feelings.


  1. Leo, John. “When Life Imitates Video. ” U. S. News & World Report 03 May 1999, n. pag.

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John Leo’s “When Life Imitates Video”: A Critical Response. (2016, Nov 13). Retrieved from

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