Thursday, April 29, 2010

big bad violent television

Frank is watching another war doco, this time about Australian soldiers at Kokoda. It seems to be a very sensitive documentary and certainly beats the tired Nazi documentaries on SBS.

I'm listening with one ear, but not watching. I've realised violence on television, or even the hint of it, does my head in. Even if I can't see what is happening, my imagination more than fills in any gaps and I feel ill at the thought of what was and is done, or what is imagined. It was after watching Sophie Scholl (and consequently sleeping poorly as I relived the guillotine moment that was really only a blank screen with all extra details created in my own mind), that I realised I should stop pretending I like gruesomeness and embrace my sensitivity.

So I was pretty disgusted when my brothers went and saw Inglorious Basterds and enjoyed it. I couldn't believe that they would firstly watch, and secondly enjoy a movie that, from all I read, glorified violence. My concerns don't stem just from my own sensitivities, but from what I observe at school where primary aged children watch more violent and scary movies than I ever will. If we who can discern reality from fiction watch violent movies and think they are OK, what about those who have blurred lines between reality and the big screen? Are violent movies feeding violence (in school and society as a whole), or are movies taking their scripts from real life events? I imagine it is a little of both, but I am deeply concerned for the children I know and care for, who watch extreme violence often. I am also concerned for what this will do for our society as a whole.

I should at this point confess my proclivity for murder mysteries. This is an anomaly, and I have noticed a shift when I watch too many - I feel kind of scungy inside. So I've cut back on them and taken this as my motto for the year:
Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
Philippians 4:8, MSG
I'm not sure I can beat the violence in the world - it is all pervasive, and even lurks in my heart at times. But perhaps if I fill my mind with the beautiful, not the ugly, I can push the violence and vileness out until it has no space left to hide.


At 10:26 pm, April 29, 2010, Anonymous 2paw said...

I am not enamoured of horridly violent TV , films or books. I can watch CSI-type shows or Fringe/X-Files without a qualm usually and I don't know why. Sometimes NOT seeing is worse, my mind makes up horrible things. I don't like violence for violence's sake.

At 12:21 pm, April 30, 2010, Blogger luke said...

I'm betting you wrote about me because you wanted me to comment. Ha! Nicely done, if so ;)

I don't disagree about children watching violence - their inability to interpret what they see in its proper context makes all kinds of things potentially damaging to their young minds - but for adults I don't think this is a line you can attempt to draw for anyone else.

It really comes down to knowing what you can see and process without adverse affects on your psyche, whether it be violence, sex, or anything else that might linger unhelpfully in your mind. You know your limits when it comes to violence, and that's great. I wish more people would think more deeply about how what they watch is affecting them.

That said, the judgement you've passed on those of us who make different choices is just rude.

Aside from the fact that graphic violence affects different people in different ways, other considerations include the legitimacy of representing violence as it happened historically, the ongoing reality of violence in the world at present (are documentaries ok? is it ok to visit violent areas and see what's happening? how about children who happen to live in these places? what do we do with violent natural disasters?), and the appropriateness of using violence to carry a message within art in general.

By all means, don't watch violent content. But don't go over-simplifying the pursuit of thoughts that are true, noble, reputable, etc. in a world that is full of ugliness.


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