Violence just seems like a natural part of life in
our culture. Society may oppose violence in its raw, criminal form, but we
certainly embrace violence for entertainment value. Every Sunday this fall
millions of Americans will sit in front of a television and watch grown
men do violence to one another on a football field. The NFL could
eliminate violence and its potential for injury by changing the game to
flag football, but nobody would watch.
On a recent sports talk show, one player commented
that at the end of each game most players tell opponents to “stay
healthy.” He inferred that players play the game according to the rules
and don’t want to hurt other players. Fans often want to see players for
the opposing team hurt —not injured for life, but hurt. Boxing is
another example of violent entertainment. Fans don’t want to see a boxer
killed, but enjoy seeing him or her get bashed around the ring, eventually
hitting the canvas with a thud.
During a recent hockey match, a player was viciously
attacked resulting in serious injuries, including a broken neck. Some
people said they were outraged by the brutality of the offending
player’s actions, but the fights are what many hockey fans want to see
— fights and bodies smashing into backboards.
It’s all part of the entertainment value. Society shouldn’t be
outraged by sports figures getting life-threatening injuries. It’s part
of the job.
Violence in the Media
Violence is a major part of the movie and television
industries, as well. When television became commercially available, my
family was one of the first in our neighborhood to own a set. The kids on
my hill came to my house every Saturday to watch old reruns of the Cisco
Kid, Hopalong Cassidy, and Roy Rogers. There was plenty of violence in
those movies — maybe not as graphic as the violence in movies today, but
violence nonetheless. Watching these shows never made me want to get my
dad’s guns and imitate Cisco by shooting someone. I knew what I saw on
television wasn’t the “real world.” And the Lone Ranger never shot
anyone. Somehow he always managed to shoot the gun out of the outlaw’s
hand with that silver bullet. In the real world, guns shot at people cause
major injuries, including death.
Most of my ideas for articles come from my own
experiences. This article also had its roots in a facet of my life. Last
month I was watching a DVD with my granddaughter Rachel while she was
being nebulized for CF. The movie was an adaptation of Scooby-Doo, who
most of us know as a lovable dog. I thought the movie would be something
like Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, or the Road Runner.
Well, Scooby-Doo has changed. The violence on this
DVD would rival Schwarzenegger’s Terminator movies. In addition to the
violence, the young ladies’ attire was rather provocative. You
wouldn’t see that much cleavage in many adult-oriented magazines. I
began to generalize about the DVD. Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and the Road
Runner were very violent. No one got killed, but there was a lot of
violence. Even most fairy tales and Disney movies contain an element of
violence. Violence just seems to be everywhere. In fact, we seem to enjoy
watching violence. One of my favorite comedy acts, the Three Stooges, is
full of faux violence.
My wife and I saw two movies last month. One was The
Passion of the Christ. Those who have seen the movie know the violence
that the movie contains. The priest at St. Paul’s church in Tampa said
the movie would make us realize that the crucifixion of Christ was a very
violent act that’s not appreciated when Christians view the crucifix in
church. He certainly was right. I’m not sure how I feel about the
violent portrayal of Christ’s death in the movie. I did think that too
many young children were viewing the movie, although I understand the
significance of Christ’s crucifixion in the Christian community.
One of the movies my son gave us to watch was a movie
called Bad Boys II. If you want to see violence and vulgarity, this is a
movie to watch. I purchased my wife a portable DVD player so she could
keep entertained while I did the driving on long trips. We took the Amtrak
auto train going to Florida this past trip so we both could watch movies
to pass time. The violence in the various scenes of Bad Boys II used
modern weapons, but the over-emphasis of violent acts made it all seem as
fictional as Bugs Bunny being shot at by Elmer Fudd. I became immune to
the shooting. It wasn’t real. It was just entertainment. I knew I’d
see the actors in another movie next year.
The most important thing is I realized the difference between real
violence and violence used for entertainment.
Violence in the Real World
When real violence — like wars and murders shown on
the news — becomes entertainment, then we as a society have a problem.
Seeking to eliminate violence as a part of entertainment is unrealistic.
Teaching the difference between entertainment and real life is an
attainable goal. A civilized society will establish acceptable laws to
punish individuals who cross the line in committing violent acts with the
intent to do harm in real life. Football violence and Terminator movies
will probably always exist. Viewers and parents have the right not to
purchase a ticket or to use the on-off switch. I hope I’ll get to heaven
but I’m afraid my punishment before entering the gates will be to watch
Bad Boys II for an extended period of time. I also hope Saint Peter
doesn’t use the off switch if he sees me at the entrance gate.
there are at least two sides to every issue. Do you have a different
view? This column is meant to provoke thought, so keep sending
comments. Each one is read with the utmost interest. Send e-mail to: DrBmailbag@aol.com,
or send written responses to the editor. Mail will be forwarded
to the author.