Questions arise from increase of violence in our culture

Published by adviser, Author: Michael Santoro - Observation Station, Date: April 25, 2013
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Life is fragile. It’s a simple statement, but one that is overlooked. With how much violence inundates not only our society but the societies of others, it’s hard to imagine that this easily understandable statement is being held as dear as it should be. The recent attack on the Boston Marathon is evidence of this. The heinous actions of two individuals to terrorize the American public disavowed and destroyed the frailty of human life. It’s not just our culture, and it’s not just the cultures of others. There seems to be a trend of increased violence happening all over the globe, whether it exists in our backyard or across the sea.

I can understand the attraction of violence, at least digitally or synthetically. It’s taboo, it’s mysterious, and it will eventually happen to all of us. Movies depicting violence can range in subject matter, from a war film to a movie documenting inner-city gang violence. Whatever the case may be, this violence isn’t actually occurring. It’s being prepared as art, something to be viewed and enjoyed by an interested audience. The question is this: is this film violence justified no matter what? Is it only allowed to be shown in a certain context, or should there be no violence at all? We’re still awaiting concrete, irrefutable evidence to support an answer to any of these questions. More advanced studies will be done, and hopefully we’ll have stronger answers.

What about in music? Genres like rap and heavy metal sometimes advocate certain forms of violence. Does it matter where this violence stems from? If someone is fighting for their life in a song’s context, is that okay? It is defense, and the person is acting out of retaliation for violence brought against his person in that specific situation. Some rappers or singers choose to glorify the random killings of those not within their clique, gang, group, etc. I’m not saying all rappers do this or that even the majority does, but some do indeed advocate this behavior. Is that okay? Nobody is being violently assaulted by the music, nor are their lives in danger by choosing to listen. Whether or not that matters is up to the beholder.

Video games are another medium plagued with violence. Once again, it turns back to the same argument: nothing we see is physically occurring in reality, thus nobody is technically being treated with violence. Does all this violence in various media forms desensitize us to the ending of lives? Because we can control a player within a game that murders somebody, does that mean we’re more likely to engage in that kind of activity outside of the entertainment medium? Also, when watching vigilante movies like Walking Tall, Death Wish and A Brave One, are we more likely to want to act like the characters within the film? Their actions could be said to be justified due to their film situation, but the same argument could be used to justify these actions within the realm of physical reality and outside of a film.

The topic is leaving me breathless. As I try to maintain a non-biased opinion, it’s boggling how many different viewpoints one could take on a subject which breadth is so wide. So many contextual issues, so many situations exclusive to one medium and so many people left to wonder. Despite all this, we need to recognize and hold dear the fact that life is fragile. Is it fragile in a fantasy sense, where entertainment is the goal? Is it only fragile in real life, where physical beings exist and can be taken away from us? I think I’ve left this opinion article with more questions than answers. Hopefully you’ll leave it with your steadfast convictions on the subject. You might leave it with more questions in your mind. Either way, keep thinking. It’s becoming all we have left.

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