This post has been on my mind for a long time. It’s been on my heart for even longer.
My sincere prayer and hope is for Peace Full Home to be uplifting and hopeful in a world that has its fair share of challenges. I want this blog to be a harbinger of calm and joy. In spite of that desire there are times when I feel called to discuss something that’s really hard for me to understand or very far from what is peaceful. Today’s post is one of those because the topic is violence.
I’ve never been a fan of scary movies, “dark” movies and especially not of movies filled with gratuitous violence. I am completely unable to wrap my head around how someone could even sit through something like that, let alone consider it “entertaining”. Having said that, box office numbers would indicate that I am indeed a minority in this way of thinking.
Some people tell me the reason they watch a violent movie is “because it shows that the good guy comes out on top; that good triumphs over evil”. Others say, “you’re missing so many important movies that imitate historical events” or “ those are the realities of life”. Still others try to explain to me that “it’s simply a movie and it’s not real”. Sadly, the pervasive violence in our world IS real.
Many years ago, when I was in my late twenties I went to a “Toga Party. The hostess and her husband were great friends, young parents like myself, and they threw wonderful parties. Somewhere during the evening the movie “Caligula” was put into the video player. I don’t remember if it was VHS or Betamax, but what I do remember has stayed with me for over thirty years. That early 1980’s movie was about Julius Caesar (Caligula) and how he ruled The Roman Empire. I may still be naïve about some things that happen on this planet, but that many years ago, I was even more so. I probably saw less than ten minutes of this movie in totality, but the violence and perversion still haunt me. After the initial exposure, I ended up going out onto their patio and sitting there the entire time the movie was on. Interestingly, one of the husbands came out too. I remember thinking how awesome it was that he wasn’t concerned about being considered “less than”; that he, too, had no interest in watching what was being played out on that screen. We sat there and talked about our children, careers, parents, anything except what was being viewed inside.
I have seen a couple of other movies that have parts that are still burned into my brain- a scene from “Fatal Attraction”, parts of “The Exorcist”. It didn’t take me long to realize that I simply won’t subject myself to watching violence.
Last year, a short clip from the 1990’s movie “Braveheart” was played during a church service. I don’t remember the context of the discussion and I’m sure that the movie tied into it, but I sat that with my eyes shut tight and my hands over my ears. I really didn’t care at all how I looked; I simply was not going to “be there”.
There are times when Larry and I decide to sit down and watch something on TV (I think Hollywood Game Night and Big Bang Theory are great) and a trailer for a show comes on that makes me literally gasp. I reach for the “control” as fast as possible and switch the channel. I get that I’m not like most people, but I can’t believe that there aren’t more folks who feel exactly the same way.
What I say now is simply “I can’t process that”. I used to say, “I can’t watch that stuff”, but that’s not true. Can’t implies ability and I do have the ability to watch it, but I am truly unable to process it. There very well may be movies or documentaries that have value; that do show what’s real, but they’re simply not for me.
A few weeks ago, my friend Linda was on a flight to visit friends in another state. She was seated next to a boy, who she was guessing is about ten or eleven. He was traveling with a grandparent and his six-year-old sister. He had his tablet with him and the ENTIRE TRIP he played a game called “Smash Dude”. In this “game”, rated for “everyone 10+” all that happens is this: a human-like figure is chained to a wall while the “player” tortures him to death with any number of weapons. When I researched it, I read that Firezoo, the company that created it, calls it “hilarious interactive fun”. Over three MILLION people have downloaded this “game”. I really have no way to understand how this is fun or what the heck we’re telling children who torture anything to death and then do it over and over and over again. Linda was understandably shocked. What are the caregivers who allow a child to play like that thinking?
Now I know that my opinion on too much electronic interaction isn’t popular. I also know that children do receive some benefits by playing games on their computers, game sets, phones or tablets. These activities can help children with problem-solving, teach them healthy competition, even expose them to different cultures, or help them get physically fit. In addition, a phone gives the parent and child a way to contact each other. All of those things are great. The challenge is doing it with moderation, and the monitoring of a responsible adult. In June, “AVG Now” shared a recent study from the London School of Economics about students in schools that banned carrying phones. Following the ban, average students test scores improved by over 6% and underachieving students test scores rose 14%. According to the study, having a smart phone has a negative impact on education. I can’t even imagine the effect a smart phone teaching violence has on students.
The University of Waterloo published a study in the journal “Computers in Human Behavior”. Part of the results showed that “smartphone users who are intuitive thinkers — more prone to relying on gut feelings and instincts when making decisions — frequently use their device’s search engine rather than their own brainpower. Smartphones allow them to be even lazier than they would otherwise be.” This is an example of how all of us are getting so used to not having to seek out answers or even consider if we already KNOW the answer because it’s “easier” to have the answer “given” to us. We don’t need to think for ourselves!
I already have a concern about the lack of “critical thinking” we teach our children. If they’re exposed to things like “smash dude” and we’re too busy to have conversations that address what they’re engage in, where are we headed? Are we raising up a generation that won’t think twice about violence?
My friend Carol shared a post about a movie. She wrote, “What do you think of a new movie, Sinister 2, that has the following description in our newspaper today: ‘A boogey man ghoul gets little kids to make films murdering their families.’ It describes violence in the movie as ‘abusive father beats up a deputy and attacks his son; one of his boys attempts to murder his family with fire and a scythe.’ Ends with ‘OK for teens.’ Is this what we want our kids to see? Why do they even allow movies like this to be made? No wonder there is so much violence in our society. End of rant”. Carol, that certainly isn’t a rant. It’s the pain that a mother and grandmother and former school principal feels when she’s shocked by the reality of what’s out there.
I understand that I must be in the minority regarding the violence in movies and television shows, or they wouldn’t have the mass appeal they have. We live in a world were there is so much violence that perhaps it’s easy to become anesthetized to it. That scares me. We won’t change movies, television programming or gaming unless we don’t add to the gross receipts they bring in. Why would production slow on things we’re paying billions of dollars to see or engage in?
In May of 2014, two twelve-year-old girls tried to kill one of their “friends”. They stabbed her NINETEEN times, because they were trying to make an internet horror creature, Slender Man, pleased. If they were successful in killing her, they would have “earned” Slender Man’s protection. In current news, a thirteen-year-old boy is going to trial for killing his nine-year-old friend in a playground. We are talking about children killing other children, and my heart breaks as I write this. My grandchildren are ten and eight and this hits much too close to home.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I want to find a way to make a change. If you have any ideas, please let me know. I do know that I care deeply about our world, our towns, our schools, our children and our grandchildren. I wish that we could all live in a “sunshine and happiness” space, but that’s not our reality. I pray that one day violence isn’t part of our reality either.
©2015 Peace Full Home/Intentional Living
p.s. from “The Checklist from Z to A”: #24. Never underestimate the power of what you say (once it’s out there, you can’t take it back); I think we’ve probably all experience saying something and realizing, as soon as it left our lips, that we wish we wouldn’t have said it.