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: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/258423.php

"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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Do you guys believe violence is more rampant today than it was before?

I think it probably is. That is not to say that it wasn't always present, though less openly expressed. Recent politics as well as recent gun sales indicate a huge problem.

Not in the grand sweep of things.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1455883115

Oh, right.  Back to the cavemen. Or human sacrifice. Or the Romans and their gladiators. Or the inquisition.

 

Or for that matter current third world countries.

Do you guys believe violence is more rampant today than it was before?

In my part of the world, no, it is not more rampant. Yes, there is some random violence, but not much. I was mugged thirty years ago but not since... ;) I've been on strike at a couple of jobs but no scabs or armed militia were brought in to beat me up.

In other parts of the world? I would guess in some places more in some places less.

But the kind of thing we're talking about - violence in our fiction - is certainly at higher levels than ever before. And I think that's too bad. Violence porn is just as bad as sexual porn. Maybe worse.

 

 

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).

Exactly. Violence in the media doesn't cause violence in real life any more than eating Brussels sprouts causes memory loss. Any claims that it does are just silly, and totally unfounded.

This is untrue. We have too many violent criminals who are also addicted to violent games and shows and imitate them. As for kids: well, that's where it starts, though I'll grant you some influence from genetics and violence-addicted parents. The media feed into this and seem to justify it until violence is seen as a way of life.

Exactly. Violence in the media doesn't cause violence in real life any more than eating Brussels sprouts causes memory loss. Any claims that it does are just silly, and totally unfounded.

No, not silly or unfounded, just complicated and subtle. Sure, there's no direct line and it's not like everyone has the same reaction to everything. But it doesn't have no effect or there wouldn't be so much interest in it.

But it is far too common in our fiction, I think, for the solution to every problem to be violence. We know when we write something what buttons we're pushing in the reader.

Violence in fiction can be like a drug - there can be good uses for it or, let's say, "less good" uses for it.

 

This is untrue.

Prove it.

We have too many violent criminals who are also addicted to violent games and shows and imitate them.

That's called sampling on the dependent variable. It discounts the millions of people who would never dream of imitating violent shows and games, despite the fact that they enjoy them frequently.

The fact that most people don't kill doesn't make killings acceptable.

I don't have to prove anything.  Interviews with killers have been published in newspapers for years. If you haven't seen their statements, you have willfully blinded yourself to them.

 

The whole argument is less than useful here. I have violent killings in my books as many of the other authors here do. But when I write violence it is always against a moral framework where those acts are seen to be reprehensible and the perpetrators will be punished in one way or another. It is when this framework is missing that you are dealing with something that may seem to justify copy-cat behavior in readers.

But it doesn't have no effect or there wouldn't be so much interest in it.

Conjecture.

The most graphically violent movies/books I've ever seen/read came from Japan. If violence in the media causes violence in real life, why isn't Japan the most violent nation on the planet?

There's simply no scientific evidence that watching a violent movie or reading a violent book or playing a violent video game will make you more likely to commit an act of violence. And there never will be, because it's a falsehood propagated by outfits like the NRA who want to draw attention away from the facts.

There's simply no scientific evidence that watching a violent movie or reading a violent book or playing a violent video game will make you more likely to commit an act of violence. And there never will be...

I hope you're right. I have seen some interesting stuff about video game makers using flicker rates and other methods to make their product more addictive - the same way cigarette makers added chemicals to make their product more addictive. I have a feeling when it comes to effects on our brains we're really only at the tip of the iceberg.

But I'm not talking about whether or not violence in the media translates into real violence - I'm talking about the way we use violence as an easy out in our writing to push emotional buttons and then we don't care about the effects.

Jack raises a good question, do we 'think' violence is more rampant today? Fiction has an effect, it's not benign (I guess you can call that conjecture, but that seems disengenous, Jude). So, people make decisions in their lives based on how they feel and fiction is one of the ways people get those feelings. Operating on an emotional level is pretty much the point of fiction.

I think I understand why so few men my age read fiction these days and I'm becoming one of them myself. Some of that has to do with the amount of fiction that offers violence as an easy answer to complicated issues. It can be satisfying, but ice cream can be satisfying and a steady diet of it has an effect. 

 

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