December 28, 2012
Which brings me to the Shylocks whose subliminal messages through violent videos and films help anesthetize us toward violence. Just as there is no doubt in my mind that hard porn can lead to rape, I believe that watching violence in video games and films can make the viewer immune to the horror of shooting a fellow human in the face—like the Newtown nerd did his mother. I would love a rigidly enforced production code such as the one during the 1930s and 40s. Not so much about sex, but certainly about violence, which has become like fast food—totally normal in American and British films. The 1941 Best Actor award went to Gary Cooper for his morale-boosting performance as the deeply religious Tennessee mountain farmer and World War I hero Sgt. Alvin York in Howard Hawks’s patriotic film Sergeant York. Can you imagine anyone today (besides Mel Gibson) making a movie about a deeply religious backwoods farmer who wouldn’t fight on Sunday but captured hundreds of Germans after killing tens of them as they shot at him from their machine-gun nests?
The greedy types who produce video and film violence have utter disregard for our kids and communities. They pretend to see no connection between what they produce and the behavior it produces. Who could impose a new production code that would stop the gratuitous violence on screen? The only one I can think of is a half-African-American residing in the White House, but don’t hold your breath. Obama is a decent man who obviously wants the best for us but is smart enough not to go against the untalented Hollywood sharks who know that violence pays and extreme violence pays even better.
Once upon a time movies played on our dreams and deepest longings. They transformed, enlightened, and delighted us. Now they subvert and imprison us in a lower, violent world. It’s time we took violence off our screens. Even my fiancée Lindsay thinks so. Happy New Year!