A history of violence
In the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, Stephen King talks about Viggo Mortenson’s second to last movie “A History of Violence”. He plays a quiet reserved man, who by coincidence, has a history of violence. Even in is new life, he is unable to escape his past and ends up passing on his violent legacy to his son.
The point of his article explores why we continue to see vioent movies. Many people rationalize violent movies by saying they are outlets for our violent thoughts, to dissipate them with the ending credits. Sure there are those psychos who see these movies and then act on them but the normal person does not. So says the conventional wisdom. King actually goes on to ponder whether we dont watch violent movies because we are a violent people, or at the very least, a people with a history of violence.
I enjoyed the article but didn’t think more of it until I saw a newspaper at Starbucks. The front page photo showed a child peering out of a blood smeared car window where two women were killed in Israel. That brought the article back to mind.
It sure seems impossible to escape our human violence. Even here in the “civilized” US, it is becoming the new fad of violent people to take out their aggressions in schools. I remember, very faintly, about a shooter killing people from a bell tower st Kent State. That may have been the first school shooting and, we all thought, the last. Since Columbine, the number of shootings and killings in our sacrosanct schools and universities has greatly increased. What was once unthinkable has become the new fad.
I can’t really watch ultra violent movies, although that’s not to say that I don’t. I empathize with the victim too much. One of the most “stick in your mind after the movie” killings was in Pulp Fiction. When the hit men are in the dorm room questioning someone who might have stolen something from them, they kill a kid almost as an aside for simply opening his mouth. Although many other people died in that movie, the death of the guy that did nothing wrong but was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time disturbed me through the rest (and after) the movie.
Is violence in movies really an outlet for our violent impulses? I don’t really have any. For me, movies like that are like trying to eat lemons without grimacing or putting on lots of hot sauce. You don’t really like the experience, but you’re curious how much you can take.
In real life though, I am sad for our people. Not Americans, but Humans. Are we really destined to be violent our entire time on this planet? Is fighting one another so ingrained in our genes that war will be with us forever?
There are definitely alternatives to this way of thinking but even then some of these are yet another basis for killing. I wish we could solve this problem like a movie, neat with a definite ending after two hours. I’m afraid though that the reality is it’s more like a cliffhanger with a sequel we’ve got to wait years for.