Maybe the violence depicted in movies and books is not so gratuitous after all, despite the charges one often hears. There's now this interesting study:

"Perhaps depictions of violence that are perceived as meaningful, moving and thought-provoking can foster empathy with victims, admiration for acts of courage and moral beauty in the face of violence, or self-reflection with regard to violent impulses..."

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If you are linking this to written violence, then the authior must have made that connection. I'm not opposed to violence, but one should always be on the side of the angels. In other words, it shouldn't be "gratuitous."

The study was on movie violence, but I can't imagine literary violence being significantly different in its effects on consumers, in its attraction for consumers.

There is a huge and disturbing difference between effect and attraction here. Effect, or impact, doesn't specify how the viewer/reader reacts.  Attraction inplies that he likes it, perhaps craves it.

There is a close link between violence and sexual content here. Addiction to both is unhealthy, not to say aberrant.

Sorry, found 50 Shades in the library and dipped into it to see what the fuss was all about. Am totally depressed about your average reader/buyer of books. 

The catch here is "gratuitous:"

Uncalled for; lacking good reason; unwarranted.

To me, this implies the violence has not been properly prepared to be "perceived as meaningful, moving and thought-provoking." It's there to be there in an action or slasher sequence. That's not building empathy for anyone, as we're on to the next victim too quickly.

That's not to say I'm blaming violence in entertainment for our societal violence. I'm just bot buying the idea that violence that is extreme or disproportionate to the needs of the story builds " admiration for acts of courage and moral beauty in the face of violence, or self-reflection with regard to violent impulses." That requires a little work.

Ingrid: I am with you. I am depressed at times when I think of the direction our society is headed, as evidenced by  what they watch and read. 50 Shades is just a hint, and the popularity it found in the reading market makes me wonder what people are seeking to read.

Mark, the irony of the whole thing is that book sales are driven by semi-literate impulse buyers. True readers get their books from the library. This in and of itself keeps many of us trapped in very modest sales territory, as we depend on fans and word of mouth. And even word of mouth tends to send people to the library or used book store.

I stand by this. Sales figures for super bestsellers support it. There are exceptions, none of them in the multi-million lists, where a good author has finally broken through, has gained name recognition, and now sells to those who buy because they know what they are getting.

The real purpose for me in posting this article was that it suggests that the common refrain that violence in media contributes to violence in society isn't the case. I think that violence in film and books often helps people to deal with violence in society.

Now there are those who can be adversely affected by violence in media, but I suspect they are mostly already disturbed individuals, who'll find inspiration just about anywhere, or else they are people from vulnerable groups (kids, in other words).

Eating and being eaten is the very essence of nature, on the land or in the sea. Personally, I have to laugh at people who blame violence on ANYthing but what we are...

Eating and being eaten is the very essence of nature...

Isn't trying to overcome the very essence of nature what we are?... ;)

Anyway, we're not cavemen anymore, we don't have to behave in some preprogrammed way, we make choices. There's a big story in Canada now about a couple of guys who grew up in a middle-class suburb here who joined a radical group and took part in the recent gas plant attack in Algeria. Now, certainly their case is rare, but the idea that it's possible to solve a political or social problem by taking up arms and killing a bunch of workers is maybesstill  a little too easily accepted.

Shouldn't we be at least questioning violence as the solution to ervery problem a little more than we do?


Overcoming our nature may be the essence of our social structures ... trying to organize us, keep our nature at bay. But nature is clearly on the side of violence.

We're not cavemen anymore -- until you have no job, no money, and no food for your children. Then it's eat or be eaten. 

As I suggested above, not all people are like Americans. Not even all Americans are that way.

And John is right.  Unless we solve the problem of rampant violence, we've lost.


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