Enjoying Violence

The old argument of whether violent entertainment is a reflection of humanity or vice versa is constantly waged, but I think a bit pointless. To me the point is how so many people enjoy violence.

What makes you watch people get tortured or run for their lives in pretend situations as a form of enjoyable entertainment?  These things happen in real life all the time, but it is not enjoyable for me to watch news about a crazed gunman killing people at a theater or a school. I don’t enjoy watching movies about war. I can watch the news of innocent people in the crosshairs of drug cartel wars or learning how rape is used as a weapon against women in the Congo.  Last week I saw a preview that made me so angry. It is about a man and a girl who go on a killing spree and gun down anyone that pisses THEM off . It’s supposed to be justified because they “know” that people have become so selfish and uncaring for others. Obviously they “deserve” to die.  Are you kidding me? Letting the world piss you off and then punishing everyone is not justice. It’s you being stuck in victim mode and unable to find peaceful solutions. It is what fascist dictators do.

Why do so many of us enjoy violence? I used to. I loved movies or books with near death tragedy, fast car chases, and explosions. It was fun because in my imagination I put myself in the heroes place and always won, but there was also this scary tone of violence that made me feel uneasy. That feeling only grew with time and became so strong that watching a heroin get pistol whipped and sexually tortured before she successfully killed the bad guys became physically nauseating.  I find no enjoyment from even the smallest violence in move or TV previews. I don’t want that crap in my head.

I know that most of the violence we “create” for entertainment happens in real life. There are real flesh and blood people with feelings, families, and nerve endings that experience this pain long after the violence ends. It is not entertaining. Violence does not build good character. Too much violence builds a nasty sort of character or a victim. So for my own spirit, I know that no matter if life imitates art or art imitates life, violence will never again be entertainment for me.

Why do you like violence as entertainment?  

Do you feel good after watching pretend violence?

Does it feel similar to watching real violence? 

Do you want violence in your life?

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for joining us and sharing your opinions.

    Murder mysteries are a great topic and I am glad you brought that up. I loved reading murder mysteries as a kid, but even then I wanted a mystery WITHOUT the murder. Unfortunately I can only read so many Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books anymore. Give me a mystery author that does not revolve around violence and I will most likely be hooked.

    As for engaging in violence, I do not want violence in my life, BUT I am a certified self defense instructor so it is there. Between my natural inclination to feel sick towards any violence and my work, it makes sense for ME to see violence as something wrong with our species. Whether it is right for others or natural is not a subject I want to be an expert on.

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    1. You might like Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski books. There are nearly 20 of them. They are detective genre, rather than murder mystery, so a body is not required. They take place in Chicago, and V.I. does get in threatening situations sometimes. They have some edge to them; V.I. is not an “easy-going” person, as such, but a very admirable one.

      For somewhat lighter fare, try the Sue Grafton Kinsey Millhone books. Kinsey is an easy-going person (compare to V.I.), and the books take place in 1980s “Santa Teresa” which is really Santa Barbara, CA. The books usually end in a perilous situation for Kinsey, but the violence level is very low.

      Robert Parker, before he died, had begun a new series involving Sunny Randell, a detective. His more well-known character, Spenser, is a favorite of mine, but Spenser is a tough guy detective, and there is a certain level of violence. (Less so as the series goes on, I’d say.)

      Tony Hillerman wrote some outstanding novels, the Navajo Tribal Police series, but they are murder mystery / police procedural genre, so there’s usually at least one body. The background of the Navajo Nation and other tribes living in the Southwest make this another favorite of mine.

      Given the function of detectives and police I’m not sure any flavor of the genre really makes sense without some level of violence. To go completely non-violent, you’d be looking more for puzzle genre. Science fiction, if you’re into that, is probably richer in such than other classes.

      I can understand your point of view on violence as something “wrong” with the species. I don’t see it that way, and I’m not sure I’d want to be a member of a species without it. It has horrific manifestations sometimes, but I believe it also drives our passion and greatness. I’m not sure I believe it is possible to create unless it is also possible to destroy. Yin/Yang balance sort of thing.

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      1. Thanks for the suggestions. I will look at those books and see if I can find something.
        It seems the hardest thing for people to deal with is the fact that we each have different perceptions. We always will. It’s not bad. It’s what keeps life interesting.

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  2. Good questions…

    1. Yes, but increasingly less so as I age. Two reasons. I no longer believe that the level of violence in media is harmless, but that it creates an increasing context of desensitization. And it bothers me that pretend people die in the name of entertainment. I murder mystery obviously needs a body to start the story, but when the body count gets high, especially if innocents are involved, it takes me out of the story.

    2. Yeah, sometimes. Depends on a lot of factors. My diet of media is much broader, so violence of any kind is just a small part of that, and I’m fully aware of the difference between fantasy and reality. So personally it’s not a problem, but for those whose diet is rich in such material, problem.

    There are some studies that show that violent media can siphon off violent feelings (in well-adjusted people) and, as such, properly used can be a benefit. It’s not as simple as ‘just get rid of the violence.’ We’re a violent species, and it’s going to manifest somehow.

    3. Again, it depends. Boxing and MMA is violent in one way. Auto racing can be violent in another way. Domestic violence or violent assault is yet another way. I do find that sports can
    have the effect mentioned above. Violent assault is always tragic to me.

    4. I’m a warrior at heart, and I understand that it’s required sometimes to protect freedom or security. Do I want it? No, of course not. Am I willing to engage for the right reasons? Absolutely.

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