Tobin Bell, Adam Sandler
Credit: Tracy Bennett; Steve Wilkie

Offscreen, have imaginary killers like Jigsaw (pictured below), Jason, and Freddy actually saved lives? Maybe. According to a new study cited in the New York Times, economists havefound that the conventional wisdom about violent movies may be wrong,that they actually reduce the number of violent acts committed in thereal world. (How cool is it that, in the Freakonomics era, economists are studying real-world phenomena that are actually fun, like serial killer movies?) The reason? Apparently, it’s not that movies featuring onscreen brutality have a cathartic effect that allows viewers to channel their violent fantasies safely and harmlessly, but simply because they keep the demographic most likely to commit violent crimes — young men — off the streets for a couple hours.

In fact, as noted deep down in the article, it’s not just violent movies that have this effect, but any movie that draws young men. In other words, says one of the study’s authors, “We need more Adam Sandler movies.” Who’d have imagined that Sandler (pictured, top) is not only a culture hero but also a good Samaritan? (Especially since some Adam Sandler movies actually make you want to strangle someone — usually, Adam Sandler.)

What say you, PopWatchers? Do you think this study is right? Are guy movies a public service? Can Hollywood curb crime by continuing to pander to its favorite target audience? Would the production of more chick flicks be a blow against law and order? And have you ever felt like a movie increased or decreased your tendency toward violence?