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Tanya Vital's Blog

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Culture of Violent Entertainment

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This is a post I wrote that I felt was too personal for the blog and held back for a number of months but it has to be said:

I had to write this post both because it needs addressing and as a cathartic exercise for myself. I recently read a Newspaper report about an account given in court from Stephen Lawrence’s friend as he explained what happened to them on the night of Stephen’s murder. Without getting too deep into the article, the account I read disturbed me and gave me nightmares for days.
 I have an over active imagination at the best of times and as an Actor it’s my job to put myself in other peoples shoes and imagine how they feel at particular instances, so I couldn’t tell whether this hit me so hard because of my over active imagination, or because I know what it’s like to have a family member taken in such a violent way. Was it because I was having a normal human reaction to the horrific story, or was the piece forcing me to imagine what it must have been like for my own family member?
t occurred to me that although we have a huge culture of screen violence. Be it street gang violence (Top Boy), Brit gangster violence (Lock Stock),  ‘Slasher’ violence (Saw/Hostel), virtual violence (Call of Duty) or even informational violence such as Crimewatch. It’s ALL violence that is shown to us as BEING DONE TO SOMEONE. It’s something that happens to someone else. It can be horrific and emotional but is always from an outsiders viewpoint of the do-er or onlooker. We seldom hear/ see the actual physical effects of violence as the victim.  We seem to be so conditioned to this clinical portrayal of violence and have become numb to it.

What I mean by this is, on screen the violent act is committed, the person croaks in pain for a while – or not and then it’s over, gone, the life has been thrown away just like everything else in our disposable society and the plot has moved on in a short sharp second. But in reality it’s hardly ever so black and white. We always imagine drama to be a heightened reality but when it comes to violence, the reality is often FAR more disturbing than anything we are fed on screen.

This is where it gets a bit gory:

I’m talking about the fact that a stab victim rarely passes in a split second. They go into shock and the end passing can sometimes take a while. What PHYSICALLY happens to that person in this period is very rarely shown realistically. It never shows the bystanders or people who rush to help, going through the ressusatation process absolutely covered in the dying victims blood.  I’m talking about the fact that gunshot victims can be (as we often see on screen) shot in the leg/foot but in reality that bullet could get into the bloodstream and stop a heart or even ricochet off of bone into a major organ causing a slow painful passing. We are never shown the true bare bones of violence, the real stomach turning reality, because it’s too disturbing to watch!

What we must remember when watching these Films, TV programmes, Computer Games is that as farfetched and elaborate they seem, they never portray the reality of the physical and emotional effect a violent attack has on a real, living, feeling, injured human being.  
More and more we are hearing about people (not all young either) being involved in – I wont call them ‘gang attacks’ because I’m not stupid enough to think a group of friends/peers constitutes a gang, but they are group murders and they're always over pathetic BULLSH!T.  Not that there is ever a good enough reason to take a life, but I'm saying it has become so unexplicable, it can literally boil down to standing on somebody's toe. 

I don't have all of the answers, I have no children at present and I’m too quick to judge parenting and lack thereof but, some way – somehow we HAVE to begin to drill into these little knuckleheads the importance of a human LIFE.

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