Richard Brody at The Front Row has this interesting reflection on violence and the movies/media in general:
“There does seem to be a great deal of research on the question of violence and of quantity of viewing; but very little, if any, on the subject of treacle. I do worry about the effect of violent films on children, but I worry just as much about the emotional debility, the sentimentalization of kids who watch only child-friendly works. In general, children watch much too much television and see far too many movies in which everyone smiles too much and talks as if they’re on sugar highs—or, simply, where there isn’t enough ambiguity or mystery. The oversimplification of life into tangy bite-sized morsels is as much of a danger, for individuals and generations, as stoked aggression.”
I’m fascinated by the critique of sentimentality – and while some may legitimately suggest that I am guilt of such over-egging the emotional pudding myself, I think it’s entirely appropriate. At the same time, the way we tell stories in which violence plays a significant role requires sustained attention. My starting point: Is there a qualitative difference between the violence of ‘Inglourious Basterds‘, ‘The Dirty Dozen’, ‘Lethal Weapon’, ‘Saving Private Ryan’, ‘Home Alone’ and ‘Cache‘? Of course there is. What’s the purpose of movie violence? What are its effects? Can it be cathartic? Can it nurture more real-world violence? And I’ve come to the view that the human race can no longer afford representations of the myth of redemptive violence for entertainment’s sake alone. If you’ll join me in the comments section, let’s talk about why.