Have you ever walked into a room with a horrible smell only to find that within a few moments you were barely aware of the noxious fumes? That my friend is the art of desensitization. If we are around something horrible long enough it will eventually cease to bother us. I am very much afraid that is exactly what is happening with violence.
I was watching a rather violent movie the other day and I found myself becoming more sensitive to the violence. It wasn’t just that I was looking away at the nasty bits but I was physically starting to feel ill. Perhaps it is my age as I am now over 50. Have I become overly sensitive? But I think there might be another explanation. I am not as bothered by violence as I once was as a child. It is that thought that is making me ill.
It is the amount of violence all around us that is worrying me. When I was young we had Bugs Bunny who did not look like an actual rabbit doing battle with Wile E Coyote who did not look like an actual coyote. They were cartoons. There were no gobs of blood and brain matter to tantalize the taste buds. Nowadays even the cartoons look like actual people. When someone is killed you see all the nasty bits. I worry about our children becoming desensitized to the violence. At a very young age they are seeing it in video games, one person shooting another and the result tends to be bonus points. Excuse me? Our cartoons are now called animation and are full of violence. There is violence in commercials and movies and of course the news. It appears that violence committed by children is on the rise.
In the movies the violence seems to be exaggerated. There is excess blood, brain matter and the ever popular detached limbs. When someone gets hit on the head with a hammer I would think that would be all it would take. One blow from a hammer you’re done. Not in the movies! It takes several more hammer blows, a chainsaw and a 40 foot drop to the pavement and there’s still a really good chance someone will get up and walk away. That is not reality. I’m afraid that is the reality our children are living in. I must say some adults as well but I digress. How can a child have the psychological wherewithal to realize that if you hit someone with a hammer in real life that could be it? I would like to be able to say that violence in any form is unacceptable, but that isn’t true. There is a time and place where violence is the only option. I may not like it, but that is the truth. It is the casual almost blasé violence that is everywhere in our entertainment that worries me.
When I was a child I didn’t see violence except in the cartoons. I knew it wasn’t real because the characters didn’t look real. Reality is taking over our fantasies and I question whether or not that is a good idea. I am not a psychiatrist. I am not a psychologist. I am not a behavioral analyst. I am not a child counselor. I’m just a woman with a question: do you feel safe out there?