The Agony and the Irony

I know it’s comparing apples to oranges, but I came across a couple of interesting things in the paper at lunch today that sort of conflicted with each other. The first was reader responses to what sounded like your standard “violent video games make people go out and kill people” bullshit article. I really don’t know where people get the idea. Everyone knows that anyone who has seen a movie with violence in it is far more likely to go on a homocidal rampage simple from seeing hollywood blood and gore, I mean come on! Hit the read more to see more ranting that will no doubt bring me flames and cause people to mock my intellect (as was done when I mentioned these thoughts at work today 🙂

Some very sane people wrote in to clue the author in luckily, both channeling my sentiments very well.

Anyway, so some groups of people are opposed to violence and the glorification or reproduction of it.

In the next section in there is an article (or two) about the new Mel Gibson movie The Passion of the Christ.

Two interesting things were said. The first was that this was the movie was extremely gory and violent:

Imagine the torture scenes in Braveheart, just more explicit and running almost the entire length of a movie, and you have the gist of The Passion of the Christ.

The second was that this movie was huge with groups and has blocks of seats outselling the likes of Harry Potter and Star Wars. Now I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that most of these groups are going to be church groups. Happy teens and young adults going for a good wholesome night at the movies. You and your friends hanging out and having fun. Watching a man being tortured, beaten and crucified for two hours.

Uh huh. I have this vision of a line of happy go lucky young teens all dressed up in their ankle length skirts and button up shirts, that innocent gleam in their eyes going into this movie, then coming out two hours later ash faced and unbelieving (or even stranger, maybe they’ll come out happy, and not at all affected).

Now I’m not going to make the assumption that these are the same sort of people who oppose video game violence, and I know that onscreen violence portrayed to envoke an emotional respose is different from onscreen violence portrayed for entertainment (ie: movies) or fun (ie: video games). Or is it? When I frag someone in quake it envokes an emotional respose (wh00t I 0wn3z j00!), and when I see a movie with Arnold blowing away legions of bad guys (you can tell from the black hats) it envokes an emotional response (poor arnold, I hope he makes it), why is this different? It’s just a different emotion.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to go into different emotions and which ones are ok and which ones aren’t, as I can hear the thought police coming up the stairs now. I was just wanting to point out the irony and odd logical disconnect between one article (violence bad and evil, causes killers!) and another (new Christian movie very violent, huge lineups).

7 Comments on “The Agony and the Irony”

  1. Gosh and I thought it was bowling that drove kids over the edge.
    Everyone thinks that violent games/movies increases violence. From what I have heard, it actually decreases it. Instead of bottling up feelings of anger and violence, people who watch/play various violent media (movies, sports, games) are actually using it to diffuse their feelings. It is a catharsis.
    Another useful term is sublimation, where violent (or negative) behaviours are turned into something society can appreciate and use. Like to beat people up? Become a boxer. Like to have adrenaline pumping through your veins? Don’t rob a bank, go skiing. Etc. etc.
    IIRC, there was a study that said that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was shown to one set of kids, and some nonviolent show was shown to another set. Not surprisingly, the TMNT kids were more likely to “act out” scenes they saw on TMNT. The media took this as, “look, violent TV shows make violent kids!”
    However, the real lesson from the study (again, IIRC) was that the TMNT kids were basically role-playing out different scenarios, learning how to overcome fears, learning how to deal with problems (not always with violence, even!), and just generally using the show they saw as a way to discover more about themselves.
    In other words, a modicum of violent media is actually GOOD for people and society, because it gives an outlet that is not REAL violence in which to express and role-play out violent scenarios.
    However, too much of it is probably a bad thing, of course, just like too much religion is a bad thing in most people. Too much of anything is a bad thing. Moderation in all things.

  2. I don’t know… whenever I see a Paulie Shore movie I want to go on a killing spree…
    maybe that’s just me…
    I think some people can’t handle the reality of the time when the Passion took place. It was brutal, violent, uncaring, and intolerant to extreme measures. “You said something against my god, you will die”, and “DIE HEATHEN SCUM!” were probably phrases heard in the streets.
    It’s the happy shiny people that thought that Christ died from happy shiny spikes being driven painlessly into his forarms just below the wrist. And that the treatment of prisoners, and such, was oh so humane, that they wouldn’t cut off your hand or whip you or just kill you for fun.

  3. Here I go, wanting to post a comment on this entry only to find that engel has beat me to it. I would like to buttress engels point by reiterating what Moore cited in Bowling For Columbine – most video games are made in Japan and the playing of video games is heaviest in Japan and Korea. These two nations have not nearly the amount of violence that our loverly western nations do.
    Perhaps the violence is indeed a reaction to oppression – the kind of oppression that comes from the spiritual controls of church.

  4. Violence is [ bad | good ] !

    Group One blames violence in video games and movies for the behavior of today’s youth. Group Two buys out entire theaters for church groups, youth groups and families to see Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion’. Any bets on just how separate those two groups rea…

  5. “Did you hear that, people don’t kill people, video games kill people”
    – Line from the video game Max Payne 2
    I would have to agree with engel with violence on TV/video games not leading to violence in reality. Unless one was brought up in a bad environment, it would be absurd for a kid to get urges to kill after seeing violence on TV. Heck, if people want to kill, go play video games instead. That way, no one (in reality) get hurts, and player feels calmed from all the stress and anger. I don’t know anyone who have had urges to kill after playing countless hours of violent shooter games.
    All this violence labelling and condemning is basically a product of fear that religious and conservative figures have developed to distinguish what is “bad” and to spread their cause. As a result, we end up with useless innovations such as content ratings and V-chips designed to help alleviate paranoid fears from those who fear violence and restrict it from those who we feel shouldn’t see such content. It is their aim to make violence too little or none at all.
    Of course, it’s “all about the kids”, “We’re doing this for the kids” Bullshit. We always fear that kids will be influenced by anything and everything, including TV violence, and it has become our goal to make sure that they are steered towards the “right path”. By feeding kids with fear instead with experience, I think society does a bad job at this.
    Like I always say, you can restrict a kid from playing violent video games, but you can’t restrict them from seeing a war zone that is right outside their home. Because there is more devastating forms of violence out there. TV and games are just bullshit violence compared to Iraq and Afghanistan. (and oh yeah, Haiti)