Monthly Archives: June 2013

Acceptable sadism

As humans we seem to have a tolerance for levels of ‘brutality’ while very few of us would enjoy to see real pain or real violence there is a wealth of ‘acted’ or ‘fantasy’ violence some quite brutal. I’ve been thinking about where and why we draw that line.

One example I was thinking about relates to heavy metal music. Which has been linked to some rather chilling acts committed by people such as the Columbine Massacre. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Music/05/09/metal.violence/. Now while all of this has been refuted the fact it was even brought up interests me.

The genre lends itself to exploring the darker nature of human reality and this can be quite shocking to a mainstream listener. The following are the lyrics for the song Cream of the Crop by Cattle Decapitation to illustrate the point.

“Bleeding, weeping,
Coagulation sets in
A bolt in my head! The grisly aftermath of a life
Spent
Waiting for the carnage to come
I love the stench
Of my brothers, my sisters
Bloodsoaked and lifeless
Sinew, clots, cream of the crop
Bile, intestines
Scrap heap to be digested
This love never dies”

While this is clearly graphic I do wonder what separates this from things that are more acceptable. Game of Thrones? The Saw Films? Saving Pirate Ryan? Some content which can be as equally graphic at times is socially acceptable and some is not. I think this is simply based on popularity.

We are exposed to a lot of de-sensitising material on TV and this can happen from quite a small age. This of course has lines which tends not to be crossed but we also try and find justifications I feel. One example would be the brilliant anime dragonballZ in which good and bad guys are hurt quite bad and gore does exist. While gore can be justified for artistic reasons or realism I want to focus on the example shown on kids TV and while it is censored to a degree I can’t help but feel Freiza’s predicament is acceptable because he is an evil guy.

We don’t feel sorry for him therefore it is okay?

I also think something else is behind it. Metal music was attacked because it was different and while the likes of Rhianna are criticised for content such as in S&M it is not to the same degree and less blame is placed upon it. Video games have also fallen ill of this sort of issue in which because a person plays violent games there seems to be a link in a politicians head between this and actual violence. As if a mock acting of violence or watching it on TV is somehow very separate in our distinction between fact and fiction than a semi-gory computer game.  This is something that in time will become less of an issue as has the music issue simply the generation who lived with it no longer see it as the issue their parents did.

Still we seem to want to enjoy experiences that fulfil our inner desires to see others in painful or graphic situations. We also seem to enjoy to varying degrees different levels of what we consider acceptable violence or graphic content. We distinguish this based on media form as well as intensity regardless of the effects it actually has on us. (My research seems to hint at it being healthy, metal for example is relaxing acting from what I can work out as aggression without being aggressive.)

To conclude I do wonder why and how we draw the lines. This is different from the factual case for any argument that can be made about this sort of content and if something does shock us I do think that it is important to ask why.

Sources:

Is immediate gratification worth it?

Instead of posting something a little more political I thought I would write about immediate verses delayed gratification. I am currently writing a short work of fiction which is almost at the end of it’s first draft. When it reaches the 4th (At which point it will go to proof readers) I intend to write a small part on this blog relating to one of the characters. I will also in a separate post in the ‘Over The Mountain’ tab talk very briefly about what the book is.

Now this is often heard in regards to education. You might have heard somebody say something along the lines of;

‘Leaving school early and going into a job tends to give more money than your struggling student friends but stick in and it’s worth it in the long run.’

This is of course a large simplification as other pleasures can be gained though education as can issues such as student debt.

For a delayed gratification to be workable it has to be worth it in the long run. A common example is you can have one chocolate now or wait an hour and have two. There is a pleasure to eating the chocolate right now which may be larger than having two. They could be massive and you could be very hungry for example. In short it has to ‘be worth it in the long run’.

But I want it now!

In reality the argument is a utilitarian one. The example that comes to mind is the suffragette movement. I will suffer these various pains but the pleasure in the long run if successful is quite high. Although there is an inherent pleasure in “I want it and I want it now”. This mentality would likely go some way to explain ‘debt culture’ but would of course be but a small facet of a larger topic.

We often do things and don’t stick with them, an obvious example being that of new years resolutions. We gain a pleasure in the idea that we are going to change something but quickly become disillusioned.

Of course gratification can also be a risk. Winning the lottery could be an illustration of this. You pay money for a chance to win a larger sum of money. Any form of gambling really falls under this sort of pleasure.

We live in an age in which quick immediate gratification can be sought. This is a topic I’ve previously looked at and I do think it is part of the reason that entertainment seems to ‘dumb down’. Notable examples against this flow do exist and do seem to prove quite popular.

Of course people will be for whatever reason inclined towards one or the other but is one better than the other? I’m not sure for a functioning society I would imagine a mix of both is needed. Sometimes you have to act, sometimes you have to think. A society like a single individual also has to sometimes make quick decisions and sometimes needs to think things though.

Well I will leave this there and will hopefully be inspired to write something a bit more in depth for whatever reason.