Diane Dimond: Why do we embrace violence on TV?
Violence permeates civilization worldwide. So many violent conditions exist across the Middle East and Africa that millions of people have been forced to literally walk their way out of countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eretria to find safer lives. The result is one of the most profound and perilous migrations of refugees in world history.
But here in America we embrace the genre of violence as one of our biggest sources of entertainment. The most successful prime time TV shows and movies are those with violent, bloody plot lines. This is no call for a return to all romantic comedies or coming-of-age films. I just wonder why we are so fascinated by violence.
Many of my readers also wonder, spurred to express themselves after last week’s column condemning one of the most violence-reliant film directors, Quentin Tarantino. At an anti-police brutality rally he made charged statements, seeming to label all police as “murderers.” These declarations seemed hypocritical for a man who so heavily relies on murder to make a living.
Reader Peter Bishop wrote, “We put ‘entertainment industry’ people on pedestals and expect that just because someone sings a popular song or makes a good movie then their voice carries authority in other areas.”
He’s right. Someone who produces movies isn’t automatically intelligent or informed enough to lecture the rest of us. Bishop went on to note our collective complicity.
“The truth is that Tarantino’s opinions on this matter are only given weight by the fact that we ascribe weight to them. We, as a society, attribute value to the opinions of Kanye West, Ted Nugent, et al. Who are the idiots here … us or them?”
Daniel Thomas Moran wrote wondering, “Why, as intelligent, sensitive people do we enjoy seeing other human beings ripped to shreds and having their heads blown off?” Moran wondered why we’re so attracted to fights at hockey games, crashes at auto races and video games where we get to be the killers.
I have no good answer to that.
Reader Kyla Thompson wrote: “I live in ABQ, NM, where cop shooting is a sport (but) I can’t imagine this country without police.” About Tarantino’s pronouncement, she opined, “Incitement against police is dangerous. The lack of respect for authority in general has eroded in this country to the point of a serious loss of civility.”
Director Tarantino is facing the possibility that his intemperate comments might affect ticket sales for his upcoming movie, “The Hateful Eight,” but he will not apologize. Even though police departments across the nation are boycotting his work Tarantino says he’s been unfairly demonized for something he never said.
“What they’re doing is pretty obvious,” a defiant Tarantino told the Los Angeles Times.
“Instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out. … It’s to shut me down,” he said.
Funny, in recent times I’ve heard a lot of discussion about horrible cases of police brutality. I see departments, nationwide, buying body cameras to capture the truth about what happens between cops and civilians on the street. No less than President Obama has frequently mentioned it. And we should continue to talk about police aggression and misbehavior.
What we don’t talk about enough is all the violence we — and especially our children — consume under the guise of entertainment and the lasting effect it might have on us. We don’t discuss skewed priorities like the one reader Moran wrote me about.
“Why at the end of a violent movie do we see that there were people present who can attest that ‘no animals were injured in the making of this film’? What about the human beings so realistically assaulted and murdered in the movie?”
I can hear media producers and writers now. They’ll say they are simply depicting what happens in real life. But what if it’s the other way around? What if bad actors in real life are mimicking what they see on TV and in the movies?
As a storyteller myself I can attest there are hundreds of thousands of compelling human stories out there just waiting to be told. And most don’t include blood, guts or murder.