What topic could possibly relate food, Pokémon, zombies, school shooters, and Green Day? Violence. Now, when thinking about three of the five of these things, violence is probably not one of the first things that pop into your head. But think about it from these angles: food comes from factory farms where animals are abused their entire lives until slaughtered for food, Pokémon fight each other in every movie/TV episode and the video games revolve around battles, and Green Day constantly verbally attacks authority and everyone and thing who have ever put them down. These are all pretty damn violent if you think about them like that.
(This guitar has seconds to live)
But what separates the good violence from the bad? How can one type of attack be ok, while another is horrific beyond all words? The answer may seem simple, because one is terrible and “evil,” while the other is not. However, there is a problem with this logic, how can you tell what is good violence and what is bad? Where is this line drawn? Pokémon always seems to fall under good, zombies from shows like The Walking Dead fall under bad, factory farms and school shooters are always thought of bad, and Green Day isn’t thought of as violent usually, but they are controversial in their alternative message, there doesn’t seem to be a unanimous decision on them.
My theory? There is no line, except when it comes to real life killing, and even then most things seem to be “justified” in some way. What one person thinks of as evil, another person loves and is inspired by. What one person thinks of a cute and fun, another person could think of as vicious and inappropriate. This is not a justification to doing something “terrible” by saying its totally fine and that you love it, this is saying that there are always two sides to a story, and, as long as both sides have good intentions, it is nearly impossible to say that something is evil.
This can be shown easily by comparing The Walking Dead and Pokémon. Both are violent, though not overly so in Pokémon’s case. However, both do have physical fighting and deaths, things that are both obviously considered violent and, under most circumstances, wrong, some could say evil if pushed far enough. Now, I am in no way saying that Pokémon (or even The Walking Dead, though I do not personally like the show) is evil and terrible – I love Pokémon and am a master trainer myself – but I am asking why violence done in the adorable way in which Pokémon uses it is ok while other forms, such as the overly grotesque killing of zombies and humans from The Walking Dead, are not. You know it is totally fine. You may think you know the reason. But when trying to put it into words you fail. Is it because the fighting isn’t graphic? Is it because the Pokémon are so cute that they obviously couldn’t be evil? Is it because Pokémon promotes making friendship instead of creating enemies? It could be all of these things. It could be none of them. We just don’t know!
(Pokémon, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Pikachu, and Squirtle)
Moving away from television and towards the real world now… Why are physical attacks onto suburbia considered violent and evil while verbal attacks (which are arguably more powerful) are just considered bad, but not violent? This probably seems weird. I mean, where did whole attacking suburbia thing come from? But there is a trend of people leaving the suburb where they grew up and were outcasts and then attacking it when they leave. Granted, most of these people are musicians (like Green Day, Black Veil Brides, and Marilyn Manson) or comedians of some form (like Matt Stone, one of the co-creators of South Park). Now, all of these are controversial – Marilyn Manson in particular is thought of as evil at times – in their messages, which all are violently opposed to authority. Some groups, thinking that it is what all “bad kids” think about and listen to or watch, ferociously fight this kind of message.
(Green Day logo)
However, there are others who physically attack suburbia, such as the Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. These two boys decided that the only way that they could leave suburbia was to kill as many people as they could at their high school. They managed to kill twelve other students and one teacher, along with wounding many more. These two boys followed the same sort of pattern as the musicians, with a difference of completing an act that many think of as pure evil. However, some still think that the boys had a reason, that there is some sort of legitimate explanation as to why the boys did it (Cullen, David). This is where that line that divides good and bad, right and wrong, is fine to non-existent. Now, almost everyone, if not everyone, believe that what those two boys did is wrong, is bad, and that’s because it was. However, there are many who forgive them, who see reason behind what they did, so can it really be “evil.”
(Good and Evil)
This has probably left you with more questions than answers, and I’m glad. This capstone blog post is reminiscent of what I have learned these past two quarters in my college writing class, a class where many questions are asked, answered, and discussed at length without ever reaching a conclusion. A class designed to make you think about things that seem small and trivial at face value, but are deeper and more confusing than anyone would have imagined once actually thought about. We may never know why some things are good and others are bad other than how we view them. Some one may figure it out one day. But until then it is up to us to bring up these debates. Can you explain them to the world?
Cullen, David. Columbine. New York: Twelve, 2009. Print