What’s With the Violence // Felicia Frans

In this day and age, violence could be seen in practically every aspect of our lives. Whether it is in the form of the media or even in our daily lives, violence seem to be greatly increasing in frequency and threatening our well being and safety. It is for this reason that we should be conscious about what is causing these violence and what we can do to stop it. Throughout this CTW 2 course, I managed to draw some ideas from our in class discussions in addition to information that I gathered from outside sources about the factors contributing to the influx of violence in our society. Eventually, I came to a conclusion; despite the fear that violence create for us, we are still attracted to the violence in entertainment medias such as movies or video games due to their highly aestheticized scenes. Essentially, there are two aspects of violence which we should take note of in order to successfully diminish the amount of violence in our communities; what promotes the violence and what created the violence.

Why are people attracted to violence?

In my second essay for this CTW 2 course, I talked about how the aesthetics of violence in the entertainment media such as video games or movies, continue to attract crowds of audiences. Violent video games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto or movies such as Django Unchained provides the gamers or audiences with the feeling of power, as though they have gone through the violence themselves and survived. The aesthetics of violence in video games and movies present a feeling of familiarity to the gamer or audience, which only serves to further enhance the reality of their experience and attract them to the violence.

(fig.1) The picture shows the similarity between The Oriental (left) in the Grand Theft Auto and Graumann’s Chinese Theatre (right) which is located in Los Angeles (Danger)

In a paper about Call of Duty by Robin Andersen and Marin Kurti, they mentioned “Considering these games have been developed with the help of the military designers and researchers, with the participation of active and retired military personnel, with claims to real experiences and authentic representations, we will now compare the narratives of the experiences of gamers to narratives of recruits and soldier’s experiences of war.”(Andersen). The fact that the game developers are double checking with real life veterans to make sure the game matches their real life experiences really well shows us how they aim to maximize the power and the sense of heroism that the gamers would feel when they play the game and thus, attracting more and more gamers to the violence of the game.

However, the aestheticized violence can at times, be used to bring the issue of violence to our attention. Recently, the Salvation Army did a clever twist to the issue of the white gold/blue black dress (“Group…). This issue of the famous color changing dress almost broke the internet by attracting practically everyone in the digital village. It was no wonder that the Salvation Army chose to use it to advertise domestic abuse. In this case, the witty use of the black/blue color of the dress to depict the color of bruises on the woman sends a message so powerful that you cannot possibly ignore. The woman was wearing the aforementioned controversial dress in the color of white/gold (Yes, it is definitely white/gold!). However, the caption read “Why is it so hard to see black and blue” which refers to the woman’s bruises and how domestic violence in our society seems to be very well concealed. This use of aestheticized violence drives the message better than the billions of people who have been rallying for domestic abuse year after year.

(fig 2.) The Salvation Army’s use of the blue-black/white-gold dress to discourage domestic abuse

The aesthetics of violence, which manifests in our digital medias such as video games and movies are what attract people to the highly staged violence. However, we can use these attraction to violence to discourage violence just like what this Salvation Army advertisement did.

What triggered  the violence?

People often blame the violence imposed by criminals such as the Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on different factors; violent video games, the killers mental illnesses, home conditions etc. Oftentimes, they would isolate and put the blame on a factor which contribute to the violence caused by these shooters simply because it would be much simpler to tackle just one main cause. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Doug Gentile, a research psychologist and associate professor at Iowa State University, “there is never one cause” for matters such as violence in our everyday lives and that there is “a cocktail of multiple causes coming together” (Jaccarino). However, the various causes that are causing violence might just stem from the same root; fear.

In the latter part of my CTW 2 course, we delved into the controversies surrounding the Columbine killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. From the in class discussions of Dave Cullen’s Columbine and Mike Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, I could eventually came to the conclusion that fear is indeed the root cause of violence in our societies. Columbine, Sandy Hook and Virginia tech massacres all involved communities’ alienating behavior towards those who have mental illnesses, which eventually led to the killers’ isolation. The isolation these young criminals received caused them to dread the thought of being alone and this triggered a violent projection of their frustration. The violence caused by the fear of the young criminals in the first place, then led to adults’ fear of children. This proves that fear and violence was a vicious cycle in all of these communities.

Just like the idea of the chicken and the egg, it is unclear which comes first; our fear of violence or the violence itself. Does violence cause fear in our society or does fear in our society produce the violence? It is still unclear whether fear or violence began this ruthless pattern in our society. The relation between fear and violence might not always be clear to see at times, however it is very much present in our current society. Therefore, to effectively break this cycle of violence, we have to eliminate one of the elements of the cycle; fear and its effect on us.

So how should we approach these fears of violence, mental illness and children to decrease the amount of violent crimes in the United States? Oftentimes, these fears can have the ability to cloud our judgement, causing us to behave rashly and make baseless and unreasonable decisions. Therefore, to avoid making these skewed decisions, we must attempt to resist the panic that may consume our minds. Instead, we must try to resist the urge to jump to immediate conclusions and eventually targeting the wrong crowd to blame. If Adam Lanza’s mother did not let her fear keep her son from the psychological treatment that he deserved, maybe the kids who were killed in the Sandy Hook tragedy would still be well and alive today.

In retrospect, the aesthetics of violence in the entertainment medias such as video games and movies are what promotes violence to the public and that the constant cycle of fear and violence in our individual communities is the cause of the violence itself. People often mistake the two by thinking that factors such as violent video games are what caused the violence in our communities. However, this is never the case. For instance, the violence in the video games merely gave ideas to project violence but the intention to project violence did not come from playing a violent video game; it came from the fear produced by our communities.

This CTW 2 course gave me a holistic view on this issue of violence. Through the in class discussions and the individual research that I was tasked with, I learnt to assess the information I was presented with in a critical and fair manner. At the end of the course, I was able to draw my own conclusions to complex issues and develop theses which are highly based on research, not just my opinions. Throughout the class, I developed the skill to write essays that actually matter and this is a very useful skill that I will always cherish.

Work Cited:

Andersen, Robin, and Marin Kurti. “From America’s Army To Call Of Duty: Doing Battle With The Military Entertainment Complex.” Democratic Communiqué 23.1 (2009): 45-65. Communication Source. Web. 10 Feb. 2015

“Group Uses ‘The Dress’ to Discuss Domestic Violence – CNN Video.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

Jaccarino, Mike. “‘Training Simulation:’ Mass Killers Often Share Obsession with Violent Video Games.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.


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