Violence as Entertainment

by Diane Dimond on November 9, 2015

Violence as Entertainment Permeates

Why Are We So Entertained by Violence?

Violence permeates civilization worldwide.  So many violent condition exist across the Middle East and Africa that millions of people have been forced to, literally, walk their way out of countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea to find a safer life. The result is one of the most profound and perilous migration of refugees in world history.

But here in America we embrace the genre of violence as one of our biggest sources of entertainment. The most successful prime time TV shows and movies are those with violent, bloody plot lines. This is no call for a return to all romantic comedies or coming-of-age films. I just wonder why we are so fascinated by violence.

Many of my readers also wonder, spurred to express themselves after last week’s column condemning one of the most violence reliant film directors, Quentin Tarantino.  His declaration at an anti-police brutality rally which seemed to label all police as “murderers” seemed hypocritical for a man who so heavily relies on murder to make a living.

Celebrity Against Police Brutality

Tarantino Angered Police Nationwide

Reader Peter Bishop wrote, “We put ‘entertainment industry’ people on pedestals and expect that just because someone sings a popular song or makes a good movie then their voice carries authority in other areas.”

He’s right. Someone who produces movies isn’t automatically intelligent or informed enough to lecture the rest of us. Bishop went on to note our collective complicity.

“The truth is that Tarantino’s opinions on this matter are only given weight by the fact that we ascribe weight to them. We, as a society, attribute value to the opinions of Kanye West, Ted Nugent, et al. Who are the idiots here … us or them?”

Good question.

Daniel Thomas Moran wrote wondering, “Why, as intelligent, sensitive people do we enjoy seeing other human being ripped to shreds and having their heads blown off?” Moran wondered why we’re so attracted to fights at hockey game fights, crashes at auto races, and video games where we get to be the killers.

I have no good answer to that.

Reader Kyla Thompson wrote: “I live in ABQ, NM where cop shooting is a sport (but) I can’t imagine this country without police.” About Tarantino’s pronouncement, she opined, “Incitement against police is dangerous. The lack of respect for authority in general has eroded in this country to the point of a serious loss of civility.”

Does Hollywood Create More of It?

Does Hollywood Create More of It?

Director Tarantino is facing the possibility that his intemperate comments might affect ticket sales for his upcoming movie, “The Hateful Eight,” but he will not apologize. Even though police departments across the nation are boycotting his work Tarantino says he’s been unfairly demonized for something he never said.

“What they’re doing is pretty obvious,” a defiant Tarantino told the Los Angeles Times.

“Instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out … to shut me down,” he said.

Funny, I’ve heard a lot of discussion about horrible cases of police brutality that recently surfaced. I see departments, nationwide, buying body cameras to capture the truth about what happens between cops and civilians on the street. No less than President Obama has frequently mentioned it. And we should continue to talk about police aggression and misbehavior.

What we don’t talk enough about is all the violence we – and especially our children — consume under the guise of entertainment and the lasting effect it might have on us. We don’t discuss skewed priorities like the one reader Moran wrote me about.

“Why … at the end of a violent movie do we see that there were people present who can attest that ‘no animals were injured in the making of this film.’?” What about the human beings so realistically assaulted and murdered in the movie?

I can hear media producers and writers now. They’ll say they are simply depicting what happens in real life. But what if it’s the other way around? What if bad actors in real life are mimicking what they see on TV and in the movies?

As a storyteller myself I can attest there are, literally, hundreds of thousands of compelling human stories out there just waiting to be told. And most don’t include blood, guts or murder.



Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 9:11 am

ABQ Journal Reader Professor Bruce Porch writes:

I applaud your recent editorial on violence. I’m sorry to say that the implications of being exposed to so much violence are more far reaching and serious than one might suspect. In recent years, brain scientists have found that throughout life, not just during childhood, the brain, in its focus on survival, is continuously reprogramming its circuitry in response to the stimuli to which it is exposed. Whereas earlier in this century our brains were shocked and reacted to violence, the repeated exposure to mayhem is literally changing the brain circuits to react to violence as a non-threatening,temporary, and even entertaining event; and not something that is dangerous, or even distasteful. With this loss of the brain’s ability to identify with and to relate to what is happening to other people, we are destined to have increasing occurrences of senseless violence in our real lives. Perhaps of more concern is that the growing appetite for violence in our society encourages still more of it to be produced to flood our senses and change our brains, perpetuating the cycle. A dismal prospect…. Can we ever hope that those who produce and distribute violent “entertainment” will someday realize the impact it’s having on our lives?”

Bruce Porch, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus
Speech and Hearing Science and Neurology

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 5:39 pm

Stillwater News Press Reader Ron DuBois writes:

“Dear Diane,

Re your article, “Violence as Entertainment”: How come we can’t understand that who we are is what society tells us to be? Unfortunately, society’s message is that violence and conflict are admirable and valued. Why can’t we be more like the Hopi who devalued competition and valued cooperation?

Here in Okieland we just put up a bronze bucking bronco in a Round About, showing we value the old cowboy days of guns, ignorance, and violence, rather than a sculpture that symbolizes that have gotten past all that?

Who can explain? Thanks for a needed and thoughtful article!”


Ron du Bois, Professor Emeritus
Stillwater, Oklahoma,

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 5:45 pm

Facebook Friend Kurt G. Kaner writes:

“It seems to sell.

I love how Hollywood accepts no responsibly for churning out violent movies. They clam there’s no correlation.

You don’t have to do extensive research to know that violent movies incite violence.

I remember as a kid how the movie Warriors caused violence during its showing.

But they only believe others have a responsibility. Nonsense.

Nothing is real in Hollywood. Not even their opinion.”

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Facebook Friend Bill Voinovich writes:

“I DO NOT go to ANY of those movies…
They’re a big waste of TIME and MONEY….
That crap seems to be BIG at he box office, although I don’t know WHY….
I guess people have lost their sence of taste, when it comes to movies……..
Something needs to CHANGE……..”

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Facebook Friend Robert B. Reno writes:

“I’m a paramedic and I abhor violence. I see it at work and on the news because I have to but I see no reason to watch it as entertainment. As for romantic comedies there is nothing better than snuggling with my wife on the couch and watching a movie together.”

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 5:49 pm

Facebook Friend Kurt G. Kaner replies:

“I’m with you. As a cop for 21+ years I can’t stand watching violent movies. If you’ve been on scenes you know the smells, grief, horror, shock and countless hours of paperwork. Make believe is an insult and trivializes all the above.

Stay safe”

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 5:47 pm

Facebook Friend Peter Bishop writes:

“Diane, it’s a brave person that quotes me! Thank you!”

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 11:57 pm

Twitter pal dsa1201 writes:

“@DiDimond just lost my respect and desire for his films, hope a White Cop busts his ass with cocaine…”

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 11:58 pm

Twitter pal dawnmroz47 writes:

” @DiDimond ….I do not watch R rated movies period….I don’t feel the need to watch sex or violence…to me its not entertainment.”

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 11:59 pm

Twitter pal TTodd070603 writes:

“@DiDimond we have a case of hero complex. We watch violence with the fantasy of saving the victim. Or we are psychopaths!! Lol”

Diane Dimond November 9, 2015 at 11:59 pm

Twitter pal truffleman2340 writes:

“@DiDimond Staged violence has been part of public entertainment for thousands of years. Obviously it satisfies some basic human need.”

Gary November 10, 2015 at 2:10 am

I agree wholeheartedly. You must remember than an actor is a person paid a whole lot of money to convince you they are someone they aren’t – a soldier, maniac, lover, hero, whatever. But they aren’t. They are only good at making the lie plausible for the duration of the movie.
And that is a very good reason to never trust an actor’s pronouncements off the stage, nor to buy something they are touting, nor to accept the theory they are promulgating – because if they are that good, you cannot separate the lie from the fact.

Diane Dimond November 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Facebook Friend Gary J Galligan writes:

“Whether a “Movie” is rated “X, R, PG, or G”—-if its a “Lousy Movie” it will “Bomb” like most have recently—let the public decide what they will & will not see or stand for–“

Diane Dimond November 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Facebook Friend Daniel Thomas Moran writes:

“I agree wholeheartedly that the market should decide. What troubles me very deeply is why the market has clearly and unashamedly decided on pain and carnage and destruction and wholesale human suffering as the forms of entertainment they crave. That people want to provide that is simply business. That people want it so badly is profoundly disturbing and concerning, and so when some nut job reproduces what he sees (on his TV or his video game or in a movie) on real people in a movie theatre (how ironic) or at a college campus, who can be surprised in the least? He has been well-trained and even encouraged.”

John Sullivan November 14, 2015 at 9:15 am

Great article on violence last Friday. Mr. Tarantino will not be getting any of my entertainment dollar. Actually, I dont even have cable anymore as I rarely watch t.v. and I only enjoy movies witch make me think. Thanks Diane!

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