In Defense Of Violence In Entertainment

In Defense Of Violence In Entertainment

Depictions of violence and adult content may be offensive, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

When tragedy strikes in the real world, there is always someone quick to blame the media. Adult content like violence or drug use in entertainment is a common scapegoat, resulting in censorship and moral panics.

It’s important to draw a distinction between depicting violence or any other manner of controversial content, and endorsing it. Art can depict the harsh reality of violence in order to condemn it, but censorship rarely appreciates this kind of nuance. A good example of this comes from the Comics Code Authority (CCA), a regulatory body formed by the comics industry to ensure that creators kept their stories appropriate for young children. The code may have been well-intentioned, but it was nevertheless one of the worst violations of free speech to befall entertainment in American history. Wholesalers would refuse to sell comics without code approval, making it difficult to circumvent the rules. Entire companies disappeared as the new rules eliminated horror comics and severely restricted crime comics. In banning any form of adult content, the code essentially restricted comics to a young audience, a reputation the comics industry still hasn’t fully moved away from decades later.

The CCA’s stranglehold over the industry weakened over the years, starting with a Spider-Man story about substance abuse. In 1971, Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee received a letter from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (known today as the Department of Health and Human Services) suggesting that Spider-Man could be helpful in communicating to children about drug addiction. Lee happily wrote the story, but it was rejected by the CCA when Marvel submitted it for approval. Despite the story’s anti-drug stance, the code dictated that it was inappropriate for a comic to even acknowledge the existence of drugs. Feeling that the message was important for their audience, Marvel published the story without the CCA’s approval, something unheard of at the time. That very year, the code was updated to permit some discussion of drug-related issues and was loosened further in 1989 at the request of DC Comics. One by one, publishers left the code, choosing to regulate their output themselves.

Obviously, nearly all parents want to protect young children from certain content, which they have every right to do. However, the CCA shows that arbitrarily condemning adult content simply doesn’t work. It hurt smaller publishing companies, restricted artistic freedom (thereby violating the First Amendment), and actually prevented comics from imparting valuable lessons to their audience. While other forms of entertainment have been spared such crippling regulation, the same problems spring up in more subtle ways.

The closest equivalent to the CCA is the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the regulatory body that represents the major studios in Hollywood. It enforced an absurdly strict set of rules popularly known as the Hays Code from the 1930s through the late ‘60s. Thankfully, it switched to a rating system, but the current system isn’t without fault even after periodic updates. In the 1980s, there was a growing concern over films that did not feature enough violence to warrant an R-rating but were nevertheless deemed inappropriate for the younger audiences attending PG-rated films. After a few of his films came under criticism for their violent content, director Steven Spielberg called the president of the MPAA and suggested the creation of an intermediate rating, which came to be called PG-13.

At the time, the change was a huge improvement, bringing more precision and accuracy to the rating system. However, studios eventually realized that PG-13 movies were the most financially viable due to their wider audience, and began aiming for a PG-13 rating on films with subject matter usually reserved for the R-rating, especially action and horror films. Violence could still be depiction in massive amounts, but had to be sanitized. One study from a few years ago found that gun violence in PG-13 movies has steadily increased over the years, to the point that they actually depict more acts of violence than R-rated movies. While PG-13 movies depict more violent acts, they make it more palatable by omitting the graphic results.

Should we really be trying to make violence palatable? Many R-rated films have used explicit violence to show the horror and brutality associated with real life violence. PG-13 violence, by shying away from real consequences, seems more acceptable and justifiable in comparison. Violence is almost always inappropriate, and any attempt to make it appropriate is absurd and sends a far worse message than explicit violence.

There’s a fair argument to be made for labeling adult content in media (people deserve to know what they’re buying, after all), but most attempts to actually regulate content range from ineffectual to harmful. There are valid reasons for art and entertainment to explore controversial or otherwise unsavory aspects of life. Censors are ill-equipped to determine artistic merit and inevitably interfere in things best left up to creators and audiences.
Cover Image Credit: Frank Miller

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I'm The College Girl Who Likes Trump And Hates Feminism, And Living On A Liberal Campus Is Terrifying

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.


I will get right to the point: being a conservative on a liberal college campus in 2019 downright terrifying.

At my university, I'm sure about 90% of the population, both students and faculty, are liberals. They are very outspoken, never afraid to express their views, opinions, and feelings in several ways. There are pride events for the LGBT community, a huge celebration for MLK day, and tons of events for feminists.

Then there's the minority: the conservatives. The realists. The "racists," "bigots," and "the heartless." I am everything the liberals absolutely despise.

I like Donald Trump because he puts America first and is actually getting things done. He wants to make our country a better place.

I want a wall to keep illegals out because I want my loved ones and me to be safe from any possible danger. As for those who are genuinely coming here for a better life, JUST FILL OUT THE PAPERWORK INSTEAD OF SNEAKING AROUND.

I'm pro-life; killing an infant at nine months is inhumane to me (and yet liberals say it's inhumane to keep illegals out…but let's not get into that right now).

I hate feminism. Why? Because modern feminism isn't even feminism. Slandering the male species and wanting to take down the patriarchy is just ridiculous.

I hate the media. I don't trust anyone in it. I think they are all biased, pathological liars. They purposely make our president look like the devil himself, leaving out anything good he does.

I will not sugarcoat it: I don't feel safe on my own campus.

I mostly keep my opinions to myself out of fear. When I end up getting one of my "twisted" and "uneducated" thoughts slip out, I cringe, waiting for the slap in the face.

Don't get me wrong; not everyone at my university is hostile to those who think differently than they do.

I've shared my opinions with some liberal students and professors before, and there was no bloodshed. Sure, we may not see eye to eye, but that's okay. That just means we can understand each other a little better.

Even though the handful of students and faculty I've talked to were able to swallow my opinions, I'm still overwhelmed by the thousands of other people on campus who may not be as kind and attentive. But you can't please everybody. That's just life.

Your school is supposed to be a safe environment where you can be yourself. Just because I think differently than the vast majority of my peers doesn't mean I deserve to be a target for ridicule. No one conservative does. Scratch that, NO ONE DOES.

I don't think I'll ever feel safe.

Not just on campus, but anywhere. This world is a cruel place. All I can do is stand firm in my beliefs and try to tolerate and listen to the clashing opinions of others. What else can I do?

All I can say is... listen. Be nice. Be respectful of other's opinions, even if you strongly disagree. Besides, we all do have one thing in common: the desire for a better country.

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Why I Love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, not for political reasons

I don't want to talk about political beliefs necessarily when I talk about why I fucking love AOC.


My political affiliation couldn't be kept a secret even if I tried. In the words of my mother, I've been a liberal since I popped out of the womb. So to me, the dramatic change in representation in the House was a huge win for me at this time in history.

While I sit on one side of the aisle because that's where I hear the most conversations about my closest political beliefs happening, I don't want to talk about political beliefs necessarily when I talk about why I fucking love Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The first I'd ever heard of this powerful voice from New York was in a video being shared around on Facebook that gave me a strong sense of hope that I haven't felt in a while. She explains the nuance behind "identity politics" and the importance of complete representation in Congress in terms of race, class, and policy. Here was a young woman in my generation (or just outside of it) running for Congress because she knew there was work to be done, not because she knew she would win, or because of some larger force paying her to win, or because she comes from a family of politicians. She ran because she was passionate and because she works to understand her district and represent them in ways that give her district a matched fight with revolving-door politicians who know how to play the game.

This woman, to me, represents accessibility into politics for Americans. When I first started listening to politicians and presidents talk on TV, I remember listening to Obama speak my freshman year of high school (maybe for a state of the union address?) and I asked my mom what a lot of words meant. I learned what poverty, immigration, economic policy, taxes, the middle-class, and more were. She had answers for some but not all of my questions, and then I asked why they felt the need to use such big, intimidating words? Weren't they supposed to represent the country, who to my understanding, probably didn't know what all of these words meant if my own mother didn't? (Moms know everything.)

I didn't want to be left behind in a country that made decisions based on Harvard graduate levels of thinking when most of us were in fact, not Harvard graduates. I was aware when Obama used words I had on a vocabulary test the week before, and I was aware that my honors class was strikingly different from my friends' general education English classes, and that our entire high school was years ahead of some less privileged schools 30-minutes away. But all of us, no matter how politically accessible our situations were or not, were to be represented by a man using these words.

AOC is progressive (in a non-political sense) for Americans because she uses rhetoric and tools to educate Americans instead of persuading or intimidating them to think that she just knows best. She's a politician, yes, so of course she uses persuasive techniques to get policy she believes in to pass so she can do her job as a legislator. But have you seen her Instagram stories or heard her speak in interviews?

Her style of leadership involves a refreshing level of transparency and group participation. I feel like I'm allowed to ask questions about what happens in Washington D.C., and about what another congressperson meant when they said ______. She answers questions like these online to her followers, some of which are her represented correspondents, and some of which are people outside of her district just desperate to expose themselves to any congressperson willing to talk to them on their level. Her flow inspires the average American to listen and checks the confident incumbent from underestimating just how much she knows.

Not all of us are fortunate enough to afford college. Not all of us are fortunate enough to come from a community where high schools prepared and primed us for college-level vocabulary filled conversations. Some of us have to accept politics as a realm with which we can never be involved, heard, or interactive. A.O.C. is what's changing this mentality. 43% of adults living in poverty function at low literacy rates. If they can't understand political rhetoric, how will they be able to democratically participate? Politicians spend so much time talking about poverty rates and how they want to move every family into a middle-class lifestyle, but they don't alter their political approach to invite the poverty-stricken or under-educated Americans into their conversations. AOC does this.

She spends time every night explaining whatever her followers have questions about in full detail. She actually uses up-to-date technology and social media to communicate with Americans, making older senators look lazy or technologically incompetent for not engaging with their community as often or as explicitly. Not to mention, every video I've ever seen produced by her or her team (including her Instagram stories) have closed-captions already edited in. She considers every American to be her audience before speaking, and the fact that what she's doing feels new and refreshing to me suggests just how badly we need her, and more people like her, in politics today.

This isn't even because of her understanding that literacy affects voting--in the original video I saw of her, she understands that the people she represents were flat-out not being addressed in politics. "People aren't voting because no one is speaking to them." Truly and meaningfully, directly and honestly.

She's America's teacher, a representative of why mentorship on all levels is important, and to me, what America would look like if our politicians were not only our representatives, but our educators, our mentors, and our teammates.

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