Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned, prudish…or maybe the correct descriptive is prudent. Or potentially there just might be something radically warped about the direction of contemporary society. In work and social circles, I overhear conversations about bladder-busting excitement and anticipation for television programs that I consider a veritable waste of time leading to an unfathomable downward spiral to all sorts of ills.
As a child oh-so-many years ago, the likes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “The Twilight Zone” would send electrical shivers throughout my body and keep me from tranquility before bed. I soon learned that my sleep proved more rewarding and refreshing than lying in bed wide-eyed for hours, watching shadows which seemed to move and create a paranoia forbidding a restful night state. Self-infliction of pain for a momentary thrill or scare didn’t create a neurological pleasure circuitry for me. And so the phase passed to a profound abhorrence of films dealing with horror, violence and sensationalism for effect that has endured to this day.
My confusion arrives at present day, when we have intricately well-woven stories on TV series that seek to blur the confines of pleasure and violence and incredible masses of TV viewers who thrive, veritably LIVE FOR, the pleasure of engaging week after week, riveted to a television set in HD, absorbing murder, blood, gore, killing, retaliation, unspeakable violence and gain pleasure (yes, I think it’s crazy!) in the process. Special effects are created with a reality that would rival a med student’s first autopsy session. Sinister music and moments of pause before a brutal murder scene heighten the synapses of living room viewers across America with apparently nothing else to do. And if the gore and violence aren’t enough in the miserable hour dedicated to wide-eyed attention, the evening’s episode becomes fodder for conversation the next day at work.
What makes it more confusing to me, is the complexity with which this genre noir on big screen or television is written. There are hints of goodness within the atrocity of the most vile characters. A murdering sociopath who gets revenge on other killers with the eye-for-an-eye retaliation in all its grotesque violence crosses circuitry from “good” to “evil” so that little distinction between the two exist anymore.
Maybe this kind of disempowerment of the mind and psyche has reached such an unbearable level that people no longer discern differences between actions based on a moral standard and reactionary deeds of violence that become equated over time with pleasure and entertainment.
I am constantly amazed at the lack of vision all too many colleagues, neighbors, students and their families uphold as normal today. I find nothing normal in enjoying scenes in a film or on television in which someone (justly or unjustly) is inflicting pain and torture upon another creature of God. I see nothing pleasurable in spending an hour of my hard-earned “downtime” mesmerized by a torturous homicide scene, whether it be in vigilante retaliation for something or not.
And I continue to wonder as these lines become even more blurred, how anyone will ever remember the blazing reality of how we all desperately need and must seek peace in our lives.
How, in this kind of a world, can we ever give peace a chance?