I can’t bring myself to go to the movies. I’d like to take in the latest Quentin Tarantino flick since I loved Inglorious Bastards with its convoluted, interconnected story line, well developed characters, the situationally appropriate violence. Yes, I will own that I paid to see violence and was entertained by it. Just as I enjoyed it in Braveheart, The Patriot and Monday Night Football. These are combat situations after all. When I want to see men dancing in tights, I go to the ballet. When I want to watch 248 lbs of linebacker clear a 212 lb running back, I watch football. I expect to see smoking guns and flying helmets.
My threshold for violence was surpassed after the Newtown shootings. I can’t take another slow-mo blood spray, rapid fire bullets pelting a crowd, eyeballs hanging from beaten sockets, hacked off fingers, hacked off feet, hacked off noses. Make-believe and reality have overlapped and intermeshed into a foggy uncertainty. When I watch a mom begging for her life on screen I think of a teacher cowering over her students. When I see a man exit the theater emergency exit I wonder if he’s closed the door behind him. The non in non-fiction section went berserk and is holding the fiction section hostage. Today’s entertainment is tomorrow’s news headline.
I wish I could say the same for the rest of the nation. For the world. How refreshing it would be if we had reached a place of zero tolerance for gang raping a woman on a city bus. To have lost all amusement in assassinating English soldiers, x-patriots, and aliens from our couch cushions. But we have not. The collective consciousness has yet to fully acknowledge its obsession. Many of us still refuse to see the issue.
Feeding Our Affair
With each new mass shooting it’s easy to turn our focus on gun control and mental health services. We need a target to blame. Something material we can put our hands on and fix. But these are the effects of a much bigger cultural truth. We’ve been engaged in an extensive bad romance with violence and no one seems interested in giving up our brutal lover. Control him, limit his weapons, give everyone else more weapons, but don’t, do not silence him.
Do you disagree? Follow the money and we’ll see where our passion lies:
Top Grossing Movies in 2012:
Marvel’s The Avengers – 7
The Dark Night Rises – 7
The Hunger Games – 6
Skyfall – 6
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 – 7
The number designated after each title is the violence rating given by Kids-In-Mind.com on a scale of 1-10. The movie out this month, “Texas Chainsaw”, has a 10 rating.
Top Selling Video Games in 2012:
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Madden NFL 13
Assassins Creed III
Top T.V. Shows in 2012
Dancing With the Stars
Our book market has been driven by a handful of series; kids trying to kill an evil wizard, vampires killing vampires, kids killing kids and a couple whose relationship is centered around sadomasochism. We’ve got cable channels dedicated to cage fighting and modern day murder. Have you seen the list of shows on the Investigation Discovery channel: I Almost Got Away With It, Wives With Knives, Fatal Vows, Scorned Love Kills. Go into any arcade and consider the percentage of games that involve shooting.
Owning Our Truth
Oh yes, we’re in deep and what concerns me, more than the number of guns we’ve accumulated, more than our drastic cut of mental health services over the last two decades, is our insistence to stay naïve about our dirty little romance.
If we haven’t reached our tolerance level for violence can we be done with the naivete? Can we come to a universal consensus that the daily, repetitive, multi-media violence we are exposing ourselves to has an impact? Is it time to accept that letting our children play first shooter games for hours, day after day after day, will lead many of them to think violence is a viable option? Can we admit that there are consequences, ugly, horrible consequences, in this affair? Because the first step in any solution is to accept our responsibility in it.
It Starts With Me
The truth is I have a responsibility for the Newton, Oak Creek, Aurora, and Oakland shootings. It is my money, the vote I cast every day in this free market, encouraging Hollywood to show me how gruesome humans can be. It is my money, my vote, telling the book market that one book about kids killing kids is not enough. Could you make that a trilogy? How about a movie? A hairstyle? A Nerf special addition arrow for my son to chase his friends around the yard with?
Oh I can claim my innocence, point my finger at the family down the street whose young kids have been playing Halo for years. “We don’ allow those games in our house.” I can talk about how we’ve never shown our kids an R rated movie, we eat family dinners, and know all their friends. I can wag my finger at the school and supply a list the bullies they refuse to deal with. “Those are the ones we should be talking about.” But I don’ live in the Alaskan outback. I live in a community. We learn together, play together, work together, shop together, pee together. The argument of, “But I don’t do that,” cloaks us in denial and naivete. We’re angry because the NRA won’t own their responsibility in this but have we owned ours?
We’re in heated arguments over gun control. We’re worried about limiting how many bullets we can shoot per minute. We’re throwing paperwork at it. The real controversy lies at the root of this issue. Are you ready to put age limits on first shooter games? Are you ready to discuss banning first shooter games? Are you ready to restrict the depth of violence we are exposed to in an R rated movie? Are you prepared to never see another episode of CSI again? Are you ready to cast your vote against any and all violence? Are you ready to give up your lover?
If your answer is no, that’s fine, that’s where you’re at. Just don’t stroll out of a “Texas Chainsaw” showing and be shocked to find a college kid has showered bullets at a local high school basketball game. Don’t be horrified that it happened to you, in your sweet little town, by the kid that lived right down the street. If we’re going to stay in this bad romance, then own its consequences.