Monday, May 7, 2012

Hungry for Violence #2

A few years ago, David and I decided to watch some movie classics. We're not much for old movies, but we thought Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers would be a good place to start. We watched two before we ended that pursuit. Boring.

We've come a long way, haven't we? As our culture becomes more jaded, more easily bored, moviemakers have had to step up their game to keep pace. Implied violence has become just plain violence. Implied sex and nudity are no longer implied. The western culture has developed an appetite for blood and perversion. Why? I think it's because it makes them feel more alive, more real.

I've just finished reading Catching Fire, the second in the Hunger Games trilogy. I found it more violent than the first. Written images don't normally affect me, but I find myself still repulsed by a passage describing the taste of blood and sea water produced by the slit throat of one of Katniss's friends. And it makes me sad that this book series is targeted at middle and early high school children.

Although I will not forbid it, I will discourage my own 13-year-old son from reading the series. Many of his friends have already read it, though, and seem unaffected. Is that a good or a bad thing?

Well, Marcia, I don't know if it's good or bad. I think it is sad. The trend toward bloodlust is disturbing. It says all sorts of things about us. It also may be linked to what is going on in our hearts. I have a young friend who was feeling numbed by everything around her; she was afraid because she could not feel. So she began cutting herself when she heard that this helped you feel. I'm sad to say I had not even heard of this phenomenon before, and she shared the path she was trying to take back to "normal."

As humans we are intrigued by the painful destruction of our bodies. Why? And the more we observe it, the more jaded we become. Animals don't do this. They don't torture victims; they don't have a sadistic streak. Why do we? 

Personally, I think this perversion, as you termed it, is proof that we are not on an evolutionary scale. We are not merely superior animals. We are something different altogether. Something made in God's image. God has a fallen creature who has set himself up as God's enemy. One very effective way for this enemy to "get at" God is to undermine the divine in our make-up. If we become wrapped up in the violent mutilation of God's gift to us: our bodies in-breathed with His breath, we fail to see Him and our purpose.

I have bewailed the voyeuristic thrill-seekers who exploit this crookedness in us. We are crooked souls trying to stay up straight in a world which delights in bentness and hypes crookedness. Can we see a malevolent agenda here which we should be fighting? 

Marcia, am I over-spiritualizing?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

hunger games

Hi Marcia, about those blue highlights. Good idea, you'd fit right in at the Capitol of HG.

I read the HG trilogy in January (sometimes you do strange things when your kids ask you to). It wasn't a burden, I thought they were decently written for "young adolescent" books. 

What struck me was the frustration of Gale with his obvious solution: if no one watched them, their games would fail. I cannot tell you how many times I've thought those same things as the images of reality TV shows which require the elimination of a "team" member each week or each show assaults viewers. 

What is it about someone else's pain which causes us to look more intently? I recall one of those shows in which a man actually cried because he could not choose whom to eliminate because they all had become friends. Another team member commented on how childish any one was who would not do what it took to win.

So are we trading in our human nature to be titillated and entertained?

I have to say, it was a very good movie. It asked some important questions. The books do, too, but in a way that allows us to put off coming up with answers. 

Part of our culture has become voyeuristic--media has made it so simple. We are no longer living, we're watching others live. We are making choices--and I wonder how deliberated they are. 

In your last personal blog post (strengthen the things that remain), you brought out the fact that you made choices which changed the direction your life was going. You didn't draw the victim card and despair. I guess I'm concerned that too much on-looking will affect us.


Voyeuristic competition isn't new. Sports are a type, aren't they? Talent competitions have been around forever. Most of it has been rooting for the "home team" or one's personal favorite. In the 70's the "Gong Show" reflected a change, though. Competitors were displayed to mock.

Why the change? I think our culture has become generally more cynical. It's OK to have favorites, but better if you can ridicule the opposition. An atmosphere of disrespect reigns. Caricatures of American presidents have become derisive, mocking. 

In Hunger Games, the "losers" were hardly 3-dimensional characters. Katniss and Peeta won because of their skill. And none of their "kills" was purposeful or premeditated. Collins gives us a pair of likeable kids to identify with and root for. 

I think the nature of the competition itself (murder) is a subject to be addressed. But that's another blog.