We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

Violence–Off Stage Behavior; or Is It?

One reader of the blog below “http://www.lamplighterpublishing.com/blog/2009/11/”
Obscenity–New Hope raised an excellent point concerning the standard of violence on stage. How much is too much? Who sets the standard? First, from my research there is no doubt that graphic violence is harmful both to children and adults. In the “UCLA Television Violence Monitoring Report,” children imitate modeled behavior as the observational learning theory suggests. Researchers found that young children who view violent episodes, store that behavior in their brain. When they are confronted with a similar situation in real life, there is a propensity to mimic the behavior that was once stored, but now activated in the forefront of their memory. Jeffrey G. Johnson of Columbia University found that teenagers and young adults who watch more than one hour of TV daily are more likely to commit acts of violent crime or react aggressively. His study found a link between violence and viewing television, not just violent programming! A report on four decades of entertainment TV found that there were about 50 crimes, including a dozen murders, during every hour of prime time television. This indicates that our children may see from 800,000 to 1.5 million acts of violence and witness 192,000 to 360,000 murders on television by the time they are 17 years old. Lastly, the Bible is a good standard for how much violence is too much, and how ironic I use the Bible as a standard! Here we have someone cutting off someone else’s head. We have a woman driving a stake through a man’s head while he sleeps in her lap. We have a man cutting up his lover in twelve pieces and then mailing the parts to various places in the country! We have a man with a spear who stabs to death a husband and pregnant wife it doesn’t get any gorier than this! Now before the Bible loses all credibility for the standard of violence, it is important to note that in each of these cases the writer does not elaborate on the violent act. It is usually one sentence and the act is over. Furthermore, these scenes are not visual. They are left to the reader’s imagination; and if the reader’s imagination is not already defiled with graphic and immoral violence, the reader or hearer will find the violent scene objectionable, reprehensible, and repugnant. Their conscience will not allow them to enjoy the scene. Think about the man who cut up the woman into twelve pieces. When I think of this act, it makes me sick to visualize it. But today with the Chainsaw Massacre (I’ve never seen this) I can imagine that there are many who have been desensitized to graphic violence. Most important is for us to understand that unnecessary and graphic violence breaks the aesthetic mood of the story. And this at times may be necessary and the purpose for inserting a graphic scene such as the dismemberment of a woman. But note that the insertion is quick without any elaboration on the particulars. In case such as this, the violence is to cause the reader to stop and think, not about the violent act, but why the writer has inserted it. An OT mind would not have been enjoying the gore as entertainment but pondering the theological reason for its insertion. Ooops, I see I have been going on and on and on and on; I hope this helps. I never knew the root of the word “–an excellent approach to the age old (and frankly worn out),” sex and violence in movies blah blah blah stuff. I grew up hearing. I would question your inclusion of violence, or at least putting it on the same level with graphic sexual depictions on screen. Often, violence is central to the story–be it a war story, or one of tough street life, or anything in between. Of course, many movies have proven that if a sexual situation is central to the story, that can *always* be handled without graphic portrayal. Maybe I have answered my own question regarding violence–is the key *graphic* violence? But then, what is the standard for that? Suddenly we have entered into a “How long should the dress be” type of standard. One that constantly moves (at least generational) and is almost always arbitrary, but not necessarily grounded in truth–only sensibilities. Thoughts?

Published in: on November 19, 2009 at 7:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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