Saturday, 2 May 2015

Violence Sells

Over the past few weeks we've seen peaceful protests turn violent in Montreal, rioting in the streets of Baltimore, and war in various countries in Africa and the Middle East.  The media has been eating it up and spouting back their opinions on the what, who, when, how, and why.  It seems to me that violence is so ingrained in us that when push comes to shove we can't do otherwise.

Think about it - how much of our pop culture is about violence?  Almost every movie, TV show, and comic book is about someone fighting someone else.  If it happens to be the good guys, that makes it all right. However the flip side is that few of these show how much it hurts.  People get bruised, bones get broken, bodies get crippled.  And then there's the post-traumatic stress.  There are hardly any action films that I can think of that take the time to show the recovery that the hero must endure. Instead, we make violence look like fun.

Perhaps the appeal is that it has become a substitute for actually putting ourselves at risk to accomplish something.  It's like watching a football or hockey game from the safety of your couch while the pros get their brains scrambled a little more with every impact, then walking around saying "we won" like you had the least amount of effort in the accomplishment.  We still have the base instincts of hunter-gatherers. Taking risks had to have some kind of mental reward to encourage us to take on a mammoth, or fend off a pack of wolves.  The thrill pushed us to do something that would be dangerous because we were communal and taking that risk meant the community got to eat.

That is also why we still need to feel like we are part of the team, because our willingness to take a risk has to have a benefit, even when we know it could be fatal.  So do we really have to ask why our culture is so warlike, why we see often war as the first alternative instead of the last?

If only we could encourage the communal instincts as easily as the bash-each-other's-brains-out instinct.


  1. I like to think we're working towards that goal... I mean, we've come a long way from hanging people in the square while the villagers all watch and cheer with their children.

    What I've noticed is that there's a social media trend towards positive stories and the media has picked up on that. They still try to sell the fear (which gets people watching 24/7 coverage of plane crashes) but the more WE as a society reinforce the positive stuff with our attention, money, and interest then we are likely to see that change.

    I'm very hopeful. Oh and I don't watch the news anymore because I won't support them. I get online and read/skim news. :) It's a lot less stressful too.

    1. Ever read The Celestine Prophecy? It's a pretty popular book but it's part of a larger series and it had a pretty positive outlook on humanity's move towards a higher...connection with our spirituality and the earth. It's pretty interesting because it's the only time I've read a book where the future isn't the same or worse than our current society- things get BETTER. It's very optimistic.

    2. Thanks for recommending the book, I'll have to check it out sometime. One of the reasons that I enjoy reading fantasy novels is that despite the hardships that the characters endure, the outcome is much better than the previous status quo had been.