Opinion: A call to TV producers for more ominous suggestions and fewer blood baths

Violence on television, and in the larger media of videogames and movies, is seemingly always under discussion by both angry moms and pyshcologists. Now, I will add my relatively young voice to the polemic. I am not here to take down Call of Duty. I am here to talk about my former favorite TV show, Sons of Anarchy, and rouse the following:

1. sympathy/understanding/cries of "yes I've noticed TV is more violent these days!"

2. action (can one even write to a Senator anymore? Or is that done by email now?)

I enjoyed watching Sons of Anarchy for four seasons. My roommate got me hooked on its good dialogue and fully-formed characters who were totally human, reasonable or fallen from grace.

The motorcycle gang it revolves around was a compelling group, they only meted out violence when it was absolutely necessary. Everytime they did, it was meaningful. They were not happy to do it. The Sons had no choice and they allowed their victims dignity.

Sons of Anrchy had a good fan base for the first three seasons and on the fourth it blew up. By the fifth, this season, they were a household name—or a dormhold name, I suppose. However, they have lost me as a fan.

The occasional, poignant brutality of the first four seasons has been transformed into constant, graphic scenes of violence or torture that usually feel unnecessary.

People have their faces shoved into nails for 30 full seconds of close-up filming. The lead characters shoot people in the head with abandon. A woman is burned alive right in front of our eyes, the camera never turns away.

Why is graphic violence even necessary on a TV show? Someone should be controlling what can be shown on prime time television. Violence in television shows has reached unprecented rates and is executed with what can only be deemed a morbid creativity.

I try to limit the violent television I watch because I just do not want it in my head. I take this very seriously and in light of the much-discussed and arguably accepted consequences of watching violent TV, everyone in America should be taking it seriously— not just mothers or psychologists. We need to stop letting ourselves be desensitized.

Over the past ten years, a competition has developed to come up with new ways to depict the torture and death of the human body. The movie Saw, for example, a wildly successful series based on elaborate and gruesome ways to kill people. 

This sharp rise in morbid fasictaiton has happened before—in Western culture during the Dark Ages and extending through the late Middle Ages, people were fasincated with developing new torture devices and public punishment was a foundational to every small community. But that is supposed to be archaic!

Supposedly terrible crimes committed in terrible times, by people who were cruel, violent and close-minded. The Inquisition. The town whipping post. These are supposed to be vestiges of times past. They should not be glorified today. 

Bringing these same images into our homes is as harmful as if we were watching them in person. A public hanging, so decried in today’s society and considered firmly in our past, is no different from a TV hanging that is broadcasted into every living room in the US.

If we watch a hanging through a television, it is not very different than our “brutish” predecessors watching it in person.

I do not understand why this violence is even necessary. Old-school television did not include violence; old school movies, did. But in these films, violence was a suggestion.

Two characters are walked into a room at gunpoint; screen goes black, shots are heard, we know they have been killed. A prisoner is strapped to a wall and a warden comes in with a whip in his hand; scene changes, we know he’s been tortured.

I do not understand why this method is not employed now. Do the producers assume are idiots, and cannot put two and two together? 

A scene of someone heating a brand over a fire while a prisoner weeps in terror is extremely compelling as it is. We are capabale of empathizing with him, imagining his pain and feeling sympathy without actually seeing him burned. It seems producers think we have lost this ability, this imagination and this empathy.

I want to know why shows are  becoming increasingly violent. A couple of my friends argue that adding more violence spikes ratings because it appeals to people who secretly dig torture and violence.

Now I acknowledge it is possible that it is apart of human nature to be fascinated by violence, but this is not something that the media should encourage! Just became the sick twisted parts of us want to see gruesome violence in detail does not justify showing it.

How are we okay with admitting that these parts of us, or these people, exist? And moreover, we should not  indulge it by watching these shows. Some higher power needs to get involved and control this, at the risk of losing a few viewers, for the good of humanity.

It is is not just kids who are affected by seeing violent images; it affects everyone. I am tired of having torture scenes from television replay in my head.

In dark moments, my mind summons them and I wince and my heart sinks. If this is happeneing to me, you can bet it happens to children too, who watch four hours of teleivion a day on average….

Everyone casually refers to the horrible consequences of watching violent television, but to find out exactly what the effects are, I looked it up. (And not even on Wikipedia.)

According to The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) television is a strong influence on childrens' values and behaviors. The television of our day is very violent and AACAP studies have shown that children may "become 'immune' or numb to the horror of violence; gradually accept violence as a way to solve problems; imitate the violence they see on television."

They also found that extensive viewing of television violence by children causes greater aggressiveness. This is easily affected by watching only one show. Children learn by imitating and when they see violence on television which is so realistic they learn that this is the way people act.  [Read more here]

Now, more than ever, we know the possible consequences of kids being exposed to constant and pervasive violent images on television. We must become aware of this violence and speak up when we see it instead of watching unfazed.

Please, producers, leave some violence out of the camera. Let's have more ominous suggestion, less up close and personal blood baths.

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