Violence: Not entertaining!

Every Friday, I follow the same routine. On the commuter train home, I turn on my iPad, go to the iTunes store and search for a film to rent. Why does it take forever to find something to watch, especially since Hollywood and its minions spend mega-millions producing and marketing what I consider (word deleted).

And how is it that I always end up with something like The Little Mermaid, Hotel Transylvania or Mary Poppins? Perhaps I’m not as socially progressive as the rest of America.

While I was reviewing the latest releases, looking for a movie to watch on my iPad with my wife, eating microwave popcorn in bed, with the dog curled up between us, I came upon a dozen or so flicks that seemed promising.

I love action adventure movies, my wife loves romantic comedies, and the dog loves anything with a four-legged hero named Benji, Beethoven, Lassie or Rin Tin Tin.

However, everything I considered had disturbing common characteristics, namely violence, sex, drugs and profanity. It makes me wonder whether Hollywood mirrors real life or real life mirrors Hollywood. Whichever it is, the result is terrifying.

I often think about these things during the awards season when celebrities are slapping one another on the back, kissing cheeks, praising their “art,” and stuttering and swearing as they accept their trophies.

Here is how some of the most popular films were described:

  • An action adventure “rated R for brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and drug use.”
  • A thriller “rated R for strong violence, grisly images and language.”
  • A Golden Globe winner “rated R for strong bloody violence, a scene of violent sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.” (Some of the reasons this film is rated R were so explicit I can’t repeat them because my editor would exercise her prerogative to edit.)
  • An Academy Award nominee “rated R for frequent explicit violence with blood and brutal detail. Violent acts shown in realistic detail with blood and tissue damage. Depictions of beating, shooting, stabbing, dismemberment, mauling and/or burning; Frequent portrayals of gun, weapons, and hand-to-hand violence, some involving animals and some in the context of war and survival. Scene of sexual violence. Gory and grotesque images.”

Pass the popcorn please.

Finally, I stumbled upon a PG-13 science fiction flick that seemed an ideal choice for the diffident viewer. I rented it, watched it, liked it and then went online to see what the critics thought even though the critics and I generally disagree.
On many occasions, a film I’ve loved has been trashed in the reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes site. I admit my tastes are pedestrian and corny, but after reading scores of tragic news stories every day, I have this overwhelming desire to occasionally see a happy ending. Plus, I love characters who live virtuous and spiritual lives.
The reviewers drubbed the movie I rented, and one critic suggested that the big problem is there wasn’t enough graphic violence and sex, and that the film would have done better at the box office if it had been rated R and given viewers what they wanted. I cringed. Is that what we really want?

Giving moviegoers what they want can be a pretty grim business, I guess. But why does a society that deplores bloodshed, gun violence, killing and sexual assault have the hypocrisy to condone and even praise those activities in its entertainment? Our appetite for sex and violence is insatiable.

It reminds me of the entertainment in the Roman Coliseum. Two millennia later and we’re still slaves to depravity; we’ve just updated it for the digital age. In reality, we’re going backwards because 50 years ago, our parents and grandparents would be abhorred to see what passes for entertainment today.

Even though hundreds of studies have proved there’s a correlation between violence in film and TV and violence in real life, we still don’t understand that you reap what you sow.

So if you want to change society and end the bloodshed, start in your own home. Turn off the TV and stop watching films saturated with graphic violence, sex and profanity.

Start swimming upstream against the current. Exercise your free will and your free choice … but be sure to make the right choice. Take control of your life, manage your children, and help save America. And then pass the popcorn.

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