Severed Limbs, Severed Reason

With the release of Piranha 3-D last week (creative title,eh?), another great movie was let loose among us mortals. That movie follows in a long line of “horror” movies in which you see a good number of people die horrible deaths in a thousand different ways. What makes it even better is that it’s in 3-D…so you know,more realistic bloodshed.

On one hand I want to say that horror movies are so uncreative these days, but I’m not too sure. Although I’ve never seen any recent horror movie (nor do I have a mind to), from what I hear it sounds as if these directors are getting pretty diverse in how they kill off their characters. These guys seriously make the Romans look tame. Having Christians get torn apart by wild animals? Pshaw! Just have someone get sucked up by an esacalator or force them to watch Richard Simmons videos till they use thumb tacts to gouge their own eyes out.

What’s amazing about all this is that people actually go to see these movies, knowing full well that a gorefest awaits. What’s even more amazing is that this isn’t limited to “horror” movies alone, comedies are starting to invent creative bloodbaths for howling audiences. And then you’ve got your war movies (where,granted, horrible deaths are more expected) bringing you an onslaught of severed limbs and ripped apart corpses.

This really isn’t the 1940’s anymore.

Now before some of you modern movie lovers fly off the handle and tell me to cool my jets, I just want to make an observation.  There is almost no area in our current entertainment industry (movie,tv,etc) where we can avoid coming face-to-face in some way or another with severed limbs and gruesome deaths. In some cases this may not be so bad (like a war movie), but in others it’s totally unnecessary (like a comedy). Should I be laughing that someone just lost an arm? Should seeing a gaggle of people getting eviscerated by a swarm of piranhas entertain me? Is my generation slowly becoming desensitized to violence?

Allright,enough rambling,what’s the point? A couple of things. One,can we be shocked anymore? Does hearing about soldiers in Iraq getting blown apart or horribly mutilated affect us? Do international and national tragedies still prick our hearts to compassion? Two, are all the severed limbs pointing toward our obsession with death and violence? Have we fallen to such a base level as to humor ourselves with voilents deaths? Why don’t we just build coliseums and bring back the gladiators? Finally,in terms of the church, does this hinder our spiritual growth in any way? Does it numb us to everyday pains going on around us? Maybe coworkers,friends,and classmates are dying slow, gruesome, horrid spiritual deaths, but we’re blinded to sensitivity.

What say you?

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3 thoughts on “Severed Limbs, Severed Reason

  1. This conversation is entering its fourth decade. We discussed this in my freshman sociology class on media – whether violence in the media desensitized people to it and/or cause people to mimic it.

    The answer to the basic question remains, I think based on my own experience, that yes, we become less sensitive and yes, some will inevitably try to emulate it. Whether they would have behaved violently anyway is up for debate.

    People who work with blood and gore and bad language – police and trauma unit staff must get desensitized to it to a degree as well. Hopefully never completely.

    Should blood & gore be considered entertainment? Probably not, but I suspect we won’t change man’s sin nature before Christ comes again. I personally prefer violence in movies over language and sex because the latter two affect me in my walk much more. Someone else may say they don’t worry about those two but can’t handle violence.

    Christ definitely calls us to be different, so perhaps we shouldn’t tolerate any of this three things in our “entertainments”. Maybe we should read the Bible instead. Oh, wait! Shall I skip the whole book of Song of Solomon – or the deaths of Saul, Johnathan and Goliath, or Stephen’s stoning, Paul’s beatings…and Jesus’ crucifixion?

    Can’t escape violence & sex if you’re going to tell human stories, I guess.

    Do they have to be so graphic – definitely not! I much prefer the violence to take place off camera, much prefer suspense to actual blood & guts. I think it takes a better filmmaker and writer to do it that way, honestly. We need more Christians making movies – Act One is a place where Christians can train to be a positive influence in the film industry. But I still suspect the day Jesus comes back, there will be 3D horror being filmed, edited and watched in the world.

    And if, as my friend and I did once, you watch 3 horror flicks in a row…by the third one you can’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

    1. good thoughts.thanks for responding!

      I’m not necessarily saying that we need to do away with all forms of violence in movies and on tv (certainly the Bible covers violence and sex as you have noted). But I think our culture has a rabid obsession with violence unlike any other generation that can/has turn(ed) unhealthy. So a little more moderation and restraint would be nice.

      I agree, moviemakers who don’t slip into the same old “brutally massacre everyone on screen” mentality for a horror movie are more creative. I’ve seen some pretty corny 50’s and 60’s horror movies, but at least they managed to allow your imagination room to act and have some genuinely intense moments!

      Thanks again for the response…anyone else?

  2. Chiming in a little late but… yeah, I’d say as a whole, society is being desensitized to violence. When you can tell yourself ‘it’s not real,’ there’s a sense of detachment to it. Honestly, there are some times that ‘violence’ in entertainment doesn’t really bother me. One of my favorite current books, The Hunger Games, revolves around the governing power forcing representatives from each area in their command to send a young adult to a controlled environment where they have to fight to the death. Winner gets enough food for the rest of their area to share for the year, among a few other things. Now, this is a book… so my imaginings aren’t the same as what someone else might see. In my head, I don’t really picture the graphic moments. If I focused on it, I’m sure I could… but I just… don’t get as full a picture as others, I guess. Someone mentioned once that it was a really graphic novel and I was surprised… until I thought about it. Then I had to agree. Movies, on the other hand, can make me feel physically ill sometimes. Action movies with bombs going off or something, not so much.. but the horror movies, the gore and tons of blood… that gets to me. I don’t watch much of the horror/gore genre. Not a fan.

    Comedies are interesting to note. America’s Funniest Home Videos is a good example of this… people get hurt on that show all the time and it’s “funny!” That’s been going on for years. And then you have things like the Three Stooges… they get ‘hurt’ fairly often. I wonder if our current ‘obsession’ with violence isn’t a progression from the harmless chuckle at someone being hit upside the head at the opportune moment or an anvil falling on a cartoon characters head. Just a thought.

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