Halloween night I was watching a Lifetime movie, Christina’s House, I believe it was. It was a halfway decent thriller until the last thirty minutes, when it turned to a gore fest. Sorry, but that was the last straw that broke my camel’s back. I am sick (literally) and tired of all the blood, viscera, guts, dismemberment, and gore – and that’s just network television. Satellite and cable are even worse. It’s getting where a mild-mannered person can’t even watch Law and Order without seeing a mild-mannered version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (Okay, I am exaggerating, a little).
Once upon a time, I was a big fan of all those tacky low-budget movies they chucked out on the Sci Fi Channel. Now, though, even their basic science fiction movies are nothing but hatchet-fests with much dismemberment. Where are the days when science fiction was about mind versus machine, space exploration, and an occasional dinosaur that wasn’t dripping blood and when it did munch on a lawyer, we only saw just enough to cheer for the T. Rex? One shudders to think what would be required of a new Jurassic Park or how explicit a new Star Trek would need to be just to pull in an audience.
But, I don’t want this stuff in my chick flicks. I don’t want it on network television. Heck, I don’t even want it in science fiction.
Why is it necessary?
No, I think the important question is what is it doing to our society? What does it say about our society? Is this one of the reasons people are so desensitized to violence and don’t blink when some horrific crime is committed? I know the new reality includes Islamic beheadings, but if we don’t draw the line at such things as part of our entertainment, such barbaric practices are going to lose their shock value, and then what? Are we going to start retaliating by doing the same thing?
Unfortunately, I am afraid that day has already arrived. A week or so ago, I was reading that, in Mexico, drug dealers are now beheading their competition, a practice copied from Islamic brutality. Where does it stop? When does it stop?
If our entertainment is a mirror of our society, we are truly in serious trouble and in decline toward barbarism.
Once upon a time, psychologists were decrying all the gunplay on television. Those days look like youthful exuberance compared to what is on it now. The thing is, do you actually hear, see, or read of anyone complaining or doing the necessary psychological studies about what this sort of thing is doing to our culture? Why aren’t we trying to curtail the encroaching desensitization of our culture?
I am a big fan of murder mysteries and the entire cop/PI genre on television and in the movies. But, I rarely watch new programs on television. They are too violent, too detailed. They make me too uncomfortable and I want a bath after it is over. I guess that’s the way I felt when I watched that Lifetime movie the other night. They had the makings of a fantastic thriller but took the cheap way out and ignored plot development and simply went with a ketchup fest.
The premise of the story was excellent. Mother freaks out, ends up in a private sanitarium where she ‘grooms’ men to come in and protect her family. Naturally nubile young girls begin to disappear and show up dismembered and so forth (oh, for the innocent days of Twin Peaks). Nubile teenage daughter thinks the new handyman is hot. Father runs off boyfriend who wants only the usual from the nubile teenage daughter, etc. The last half-hour of the movie is about the boyfriend being dismembered by the psychopath handyman. We think the father has been dismembered when we see this (it really grossed me out) nasty bloody knife. Nubile teen must defeat and kill handyman psycho. The end of the film shows another psychopath being released from the sanitarium, being sent on his way by the mother.
We never know if the mother is the catalyst. Is she trying to protect her family or destroy them? Is she some kind of a psychotic monster? This could have been a fascinating psychological thriller, but, evidently, it is more marketable if there is so much blood on the sets the cast and crew can’t stand up for falling into something fake and nasty.
When Lifetime, a network dedicated to quality programming for women, stoops to this level, I don’t know about you, but it is a flashing hot pink neon sign of trouble ahead. How do we stop this sort of thing? How do we, as concerned consumers, stand up and say, enough already! I want something less… can I say, obscene?
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather see some ‘naked flesh’ than all that violence. I don’t know which is more ‘obscene’. Which has the worst effect on society? Why can’t we return to the simple days of I Love Lucy, or better yet, Magnum PI?
The worst part of it all is I have been the one defending gunplay and violence in the media as free speech. I hate complaining, but somewhere we’ve crossed the line from free speech, outright bad taste, obscenity, and are now heading down the slippery slope of something truly disturbing. Why must I be ‘treated’ to such things like dismemberments, freely flowing blood, and the like every time (it seems like) I turn on the television? I have the option of not going to the movies, which I no longer do, primarily due to the completely unpleasant movie-going situation here in Lincoln County. But, when this stuff spurts out every time I channel surf, enough is enough already.
Okay, I can’t sleep and wake up around 3 AM or so. I want to read and watch something until I fall asleep again. So I channel surf. Wrong move. Once again, I am treated to the obscenity of blood and violence I’d turned off earlier in the evening. Forget that. Then, to be assaulted by shadowy images of some ad for a movie compendium of films so raunchy and bloody they can’t be shown in public – no thanks. I want sweetness and light.
Seriously, I truly do not like this stuff. It is offensive. It is also dangerous for our society. Free speech is free speech, but somehow I just don’t think our mild-mannered founding fathers envisioned this sort of thing. Then again, my tenth great-grandmother, Hannah Dustin, ended up scalping about a dozen of her captors (in the 1690s) to escape alive. Maybe we’re just too protected and know nothing about the filthy realities of life. Could be, though, the whole Norman Rockwell scenario is just the ticket our society needs today.Powered by Sidelines