That’s My Opinion: Violence and Pop Culture

Posted in Screening Room by - December 02, 2014

Violence; it brings cheers and roars from thrill-seekers hoping to escape their daily doldrums. For as long as there has been human entertainment, violence has played a critical role in it’s progression; from the ancient Roman Colosseum combatants to the revered writings of Shakespeare, violence has been a driving factor. However, in this marvelous technological era where any keyboard warrior can claim to “know best”, many are touting that our youth are suffering from an overdose of aggressive tendencies in the media they consume daily.

But is that really what’s happening? Is it just in the past few decades that the fragile minds of children have become shattered and corrupted by ferocity? Or are we missing a critical component of the grand scheme of things? Now, at this point I’d like to remind those reading that I’m not here to debate a particular side or cast disparaging remarks on others, merely present a few alternative lines of thought.

Perhaps we are just built this way?

With the progression and evolution of humanity, aggressiveness and physical prowess have been traits that were necessary to the survival of the species. Those that weren’t able to survive the daily struggles of harsh environments, hunt dangerous prey, and fend off rivals, likely didn’t live long enough to pass on their genetic code. But those with the innate capability to aggressively compete survived to further their genetic line. So is it then not possible that after millennia of this cycle repeating that we, the survivors of countless generations, are quite literally bred to be aggressive, dominating, and violent? It has been required of us for thousands of years, and we are now expected to just buck tradition?

It’s technology’s fault!

However, maybe the gift of computers, phones, and televisions is the culprit? As the world’s cultural borders dwindle and communication is virtually instantaneous, we have become inundated with stories, both joyous and terrifying from around the globe. Each time you open a web browser or social media outlet, you expose yourself to a barrage of atrocities and horrors being committed all around the world. The list is endless: decapitations, mass shootings, riots, robberies. It is constantly being crammed down our throats, night and day, whether you like it or not; perhaps it is this very reason the problem continues. What if each of us has a “violence quota” that we can be exposed to, and after that point we become numb to it? It might explain why more and more children with access to numerous forms of media seem so disenchanted with it, as well as why horror flicks have progressively had to intensify the amount of gore and violence the show. The guys here on Kulturecast, briefly discuss this very idea while reviewing the classic sci-fi horror film Alien.

Its a numbers game.

Another line of thought for why technology may be to blame is that it’s actually not technology’s fault at all. It very well may be that, for however many centuries you choose to believe humans have been here, we have always been this violent, but thanks to technology we see it more often. With it constantly being shoved in our faces, we begin to think that things are continually getting worse and worse, but only because we are hearing of events further and further removed from ourselves. Then, with those archives of tales of woe and misery, we look back in time and see only brief mentions of the occasional slaughter and imagine that in our day and age, people have jumped off the deep end. When in reality, there were just as many violent crimes being committed, but with fewer ways to make it widely known.

Why God, WHY!?!?

Can we blame [insert religious deity’s name here]? Well, we’re certainly going to try and it very well may be possible. Many religions believe that events occur for a particular reason, as part of their god’s plan for humanity, and they are sometimes reasons that we cannot fathom. Why couldn’t those acts of extreme violence be the same? Perhaps it is the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s divine will that certain people must perish in order for the future of the human race to be saved. Heck, at this point, we could even blame aliens. They came back in time, knew which particular person would be the great-great-great of Hitler v2.0 and decided that this individual could not, should not be allowed to continue existing. Or maybe it was just for fun.

We may never know the exact cause of the desensitization towards violence, or why it seems like its growing. It is an issue we should all be concerned about, considering we only have so much space on this blue and green orb floating through space to share. So go do something nice for someone else. Smile. Give a stranger a high-five. Just don’t make me have to revise this article because YOU were the one that proved there is a particular reason for the “violent trend”.

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