Friday, January 5, 2018

Violence in Media

Many of the Youtube videos I watched today shared the opinion that there's too much violence in media, and I think that I'm starting to agree. I had always believed that there were specific pieces of media that had too much violence in them, like entire genres of films and video games, but it has only today occurred to me that there are also too many pieces of media that have an "acceptable" amount of violence in them. One example that is frequently used is Star Wars: A New Hope. It's a classic Action/Adventure Scifi film that isn't too heavy on the "Action" and that teaches some good, valuable, important life lessons. Yet, if Luke Skywalker is set up as a role model, people might get the idea that it's okay to shoot one's way out of problems and that one's greatest achievement might be making some big thing (with lots of people in it) blow up.

One of the keywords to all good stories is "conflict." Conflict drives the action of most, if not all good stories. However, many writers for books, films, video games, and all other forms of media have taken the idea of "conflict" too literally, building stories around physical conflict when they could have used personal or internal conflict instead. I'm reminded of a scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in which Hermione confronts Draco Malfoy, who is gloating the upcoming execution of Buckbeak. In the book, Hermione slaps Malfoy, and in the movie she punches him, and, in my opinion, she shouldn't have done either. I'm not saying that Malfoy didn't deserve what he got. In both versions, he clearly did. But too many stories glorify moments when the hero uses violence against someone when a better response would have been to walk away.

I understand that there aren't always peaceful solutions to some problems, and I even accept that there are some times when violence is appropriate, even in some cases when it's avoidable. But there are an alarming number of stories in our media that focus on and normalize violence. Thankfully, there are also many that don't. But now I find myself wondering how much violence truly is acceptable.

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