Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chainsaw or Gun - What Difference Does it Make?

In the trailer for a current movie hit, we see people being tortured.  An advertising spot for a television show shows patients beaten and abused. Is the violence on television or in film the same as going to the Coliseum and watching gladiators tear each other apart or lions shred Christians?

What does our obsession with violence say about us? What are we communicating to one another when we create entertainment that is centered on cruelty and brutality?  We decry the use of guns but give tacit approval to movies that feature brutal exploitation of children or television that showcases torture and abuse.  What sense is there in that?

Some years ago, we went to a James Bond film. A family of four sat next to us. The youngest child was a little girl about five or six years old.  In the opening sequence, Bond was in bed with a lovely (of course) woman. The actors were under the sheets and less skin showed than what we would see on any beach.  However, the father next to me covered his daughter's eyes.  Later, as Bond shot or knifed his way through various scenes, the little girl was allowed to watch.

What the father was telling his children, the daughter directly and his son by observation, is that sex is bad and killing is good.  How did we get to a place where we tell our children that killing is better than sex?

I don't get it. What a bunch of hypocrites we are.  Violence is violence.  Is slicing someone with a chainsaw any less violent than shooting that person with an assault weapon?
As the arguments about gun possession get louder, I wonder what all this violence says about us as a society. Where are we headed if sadism is a regular part of our lives?  Sociologists have compared our society to Rome and warn of our inevitable downfall. I hope they are wrong but I fear they are right.  If we tell our children that brutality and torture are OK, what difference does it make if they pick up a gun?

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