sabinetzin: To be safe, I am not needing the shoes or the babies. (ngd - umya)
Don't be a dick, be a dude. ([personal profile] sabinetzin) wrote2016-06-27 04:29 pm
Entry tags:

The Last Five Years (Or: That Violence Post)

It started with The Hunger Games.

2010-2011 was a pretty rough time for me, mentally speaking. I spent a lot of it as an anxious wreck, and even though I was medicated, it was only working so well. For a while, it felt like literally anything could trigger a panic attack for me, but nothing was as sure-fire as depictions of violence. Didn't matter if they were fictional or real; if it involved people being hurt, I couldn't deal with it.

In early 2011, Mockingjay had been out for a couple months, and things were revving up for the first movie. Friends were recommending it to me, but the idea of a book/movie about a bunch of kids trying to kill each other turned my stomach.

Then I thought to myself, "I could just not."

It's a thought that probably shouldn't have felt like a revelation, but it did. I could just sit it out, let things pass me by, trade missing out on things I might enjoy for not having panic attacks.

Eventually, things changed in my life, and the panic attacks tapered off. I never went back to violence, though; my life was better without it, so I just decided to keep going.

It's important to note that the point of this exercise is not to sit in judgment of all media that crosses my path. The question I ask myself is not so much "is this work violent" as "can I handle this work's content?" I have consumed and enjoyed media with violent elements since I swore off violence, because I can handle different kinds of media to different degrees. For example, right now I'm knee-deep in Critical Role, which has a fair amount of fantasy violence. For whatever reason, I can handle verbal depictions of violence a lot better than visual ones (though even some stuff in Critical Role makes me cringe). I can also handle most superhero-movie-style violence (though Agents of SHIELD has crossed the line for me a few times) or relatively bloodless shoot-em-ups. These are all things I know about myself, not attempts to exhaustively categorize media.

So here are some things I have learned in the past five years:

-Violent media is really popular, especially television. I don't think I realized just how true this is until I gave up violence. I don't know enough about the history of popular television to tell you whether this is a new development, though it is true that TV has more room for violence than in the past (but let us remember that Twin Peaks, popular 90's ABC show, had some seriously fucked up shit in it).

But damn y'all, I have had to skip a lot of popular TV, and that goes double for Netflix. Cast an eye back with me on the last few years of television, and the dramas that are considered some of the best are the ones that are dark and/or violent. Sometimes I don't care; Game of Thrones is the kind of intrigue-y high fantasy that bores me to tears, bloody or not. Sometimes it's genuinely upsetting; I was really excited for Daredevil before I realized just how dark it was gonna go. I'm not sure what it says about us as a viewing conglomerate, that this is what we gravitate to and thus what sells. I'm not going to try to speculate, but here we are.

-It's okay to flinch. It's expected to be hardened to violence, to watch it unblinkingly and express shock or horror only over particularly gruesome bits or things accepted to be worse than average violence (eyeball trauma, etc). But why? Why not let yourself be affected? It's okay not to let your heart become hardened. It's okay to be squishy. If you're freaked out, be freaked out. People may not understand, but your gut reaction is valid. Don't lose sight of that.

-People want to share what they love. They love the thing, and they want you to love it too, because they care about you and what you consume. Unfortunately, this sometimes involves misrepresenting the content of what they love. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "It's really not that bad" over things that are demonstrably super violent. I'm sorry, but oftentimes it really is that bad, and I think on some level people know that. If I am here to tell or ask you anything, it is that you should try to avoid doing this. When someone insists I'd like a thing and I have to turn them down, I still feel like an asshole after all this time. It's okay to like violent things, but don't kid yourself about what you're consuming. I know you want to share the love, but be honest about what you're trying to share.

-Some people do not get it, and they never will. I cannot tell you how many times my dad has asked me why I don't watch Game of Thrones. Each and every time I say that it's too violent for me, and somehow it never sinks in. I couldn't tell you why this is. I get the sense that some people are blind to the violence they consume; my mom gets annoyed when Dad says she likes violent things, but she's also watched every episode of The Sopranos, Dexter, Ray Donovan, Game of Thrones...

So those are some thoughts on violence. If you too are triggered by or simply don't like violence, I recommend trying out a life without it. This doesn't need to be a whole hog thing or a massive lifestyle change; maybe just don't try that show your friend is begging you to watch if you feel like it would gross you out. It's made me happier to be violence-averse, and you may enjoy it too.
everbright: Eclipse of Saturn (Default)

[personal profile] everbright 2016-06-28 12:31 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have come across older critiques of media violence, though we all seem to have been habituated to it since then. It was interesting to me to see those older complaints validated by someone's experience.

I'm sorry so much media distressing to you, and I hope you find many not-violent things to fan! :)
zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (Default)

[personal profile] zulu 2016-06-28 03:08 am (UTC)(link)
Life is too short! This is perhaps incomparable but my sister and my mom both love the radio, like talk programs and interviews and such. And I just can't listen to them. It's too slow, I could get the information faster by reading; I get embarrassment squicked super badly; I get distracted and fidgety. And they keep telling me I'll love this program or that program and I just have to say "uh-huh" and then never listen to radio ever. So. I hear you! Good on you for being good to yourself.
via_ostiense: Eun Chan eating, yellow background (Default)

[personal profile] via_ostiense 2016-06-28 02:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I appreciate your post-I was the only person I know that doesn't watch Game of Thrones, and it's because of the gore. It's nice to know there are other people that feel the same.
watersoter: (Default)

[personal profile] watersoter 2016-06-28 04:19 pm (UTC)(link)
Hi!! I'm replying over here instead of LJ because for some reason, a lot of LJ accounts have been reset by the LJ not to allow comments on posts. I think mine might be one of them too so I'm going to have to go and see how I can enable comments again.

Now, on to your post. Dear, I so get it. My five-month old nephew died about four years ago. After that happened, I could not stand certain kinds of shows/movies. Mostly those that were so non-challant about murder or death. I just couldn't take it. It was like a fire brand on my skin, something reaching into my heart and just squeezing. I couldn't do it. I still am deeply affected by some of those story lines. And that's something I've noticed myself about movies/tv is how callous they have become with death. Like it doesn't matter and I just . . . can't. It makes me sick to my stomach and rant at the TV by equal measure.

You asked about media violence and it's history, well I'm in that business and I've studied it's history so I can answer that for you. A lot of trends in movies and tv have to do with what's happening in society. Like during the cold war people were obsessed with sci-fi, mostly alien invasion movies because they felt that way in their real lives. There was also a lot of gang and revenge movies and series in the 80s because, again, because it was a time when that kind of violence was prominent in cities and it was driving from people's fears. In the 90s, we had a lot of dramas, mostly family dramas because we saw the rise of divorce and the breaking up of families. It was also the time for the serial killer/police stories though the eighties also shared a lot of those. Dry, violent, everything that can go wrong will go wrong comedies. In the 20s, 30s and 40s there was a lot of musicals. It was the era of the great depression, WWI and WWII, so people wanted lighthearted, stories with happy endings. That was also the time for the infamous war romances. I could go on and on but you see what I mean.

The trends we see are usually a reflection on how we feel about our world. Like right now, we are so uncertain about our future that we have the superhero genre, we have zombie apocalypses although that was more 2000s, stupid, brainless comedies, movies without any substance but explosions and special effects because people don't want to think and are so stressed at work and daily life they just need to decompress, we have dark, incredibly violent scenes in pretty much everything, and the whole bad guys are now good because, again, we need to believe that we can be jerks and still be liked.

So there you have it. It has gotten incredibly graphic in tv. Like for instance, I like Criminal Minds but now I can't stand it because of how graphic it's become. So yeah, it's so hard to find a nice show without all that crap thrown in there because that's what people want to see. They need somewhere where they can take out their aggressions so we have what we have.

We shouldn't have to put up with anything that hurts us, period. If violence hurts you, then why in the world should you have to put yourself through it just to please other people? But you're right, unless you've been there, people just don't get it. But know that there are people that do. I'm glad you're better now. I went through the same thing after my car accident so yeah, it's horrible to feel and be so out of control. *huggles*
devon: from LARP attack - see 08jul2005 on my LJ (Default)

[personal profile] devon 2016-06-29 05:07 pm (UTC)(link)
I am in a similar situation to yours. I've had mental illness for most of my adult life. I'm pretty well medicated now, but there are still movies and shows that can trigger me.

I did well for most of Teen Wolf, but I can't watch any more of Season 5 because it's so awful and dark. I choose theater movies pretty carefully. Avengers-type violence is okay with me, but realistic stories are not. I still have no idea what made me want to watch Snowpiercer - that was a terrible, terrible movie for me. Obviously horror is right out.

My boyfriend is supportive of my choices. Sometimes he goes to see new movies with his friend instead, which is fine with me. (I'm actually finding that I'm not so interested in the more recent Avenger movies, but I don't know if that's about violence or not. They just look dull.)

I hope that you continue taking care of yourself the way you've been doing. The last thing we need are more anxiety attacks!