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.
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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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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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