Finally got round to watching Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol last night. It was OK. I think the director could have wrapped up the film about a half hour earlier than he actually did. When you find yourself yelling at the screen “Why doesn’t Ethan Hunt have an extra gun?” you know it’s way too long of a resolution.
But the whole spectacle of car chases, gunfights and punching/breaking of bones got me thinking about the whole violence in entertainment thing. This is especially in light of the debate going on among Christian writers, readers and publishers over how much sex is OK for Christian books. But nobody seems to get into much hand-wringing over violence. Why’s it fine to write about someone getting shot — and depict it in detail, right down to the bloody wound — but you can’t say anything about characters having sex?
I suspect it has a lot to do with our culture here in the US of A. No, I’m not going to generalize. I’ll offer myself as Exhibit A. When a sex scene shows up in a movie, I feel like I should look away — and definitely not make eye contact with whomever happens to be in the room watching the same movie.
Violence? Doesn’t faze me in the slightest. I chalk that up to being raised on a steady diet of cheesy 1980s shows in which the violence was very cartoonish.
Does it come down to personal preference? The reading/viewing materials we grew up on? Sure, I suppose one could argue that.
But consider this. Of the two elements — sex and violence — sex is considered, especially among conservative Christians, something intensely private, shared only between a husband and wife. Or it should be, in that line of thought.
Violence? Well, that’s a tricky one. It is very public and pervasive in all aspects of our lives. Think about it. When we squish a spider, that’s technically violence. Nowhere near the same level as murdering a man, who is a being with a soul endowed by God, but it is a violent act. We’re raised to view people who commit acts of violence as heroes — people who protect us from evil and dangerous individuals. I’m not demeaning those who serve our country in any way, but it is still a form of violence.
Many commentators talk about sex and violence as if they were two inseparable ills that we encounter as we consume entertainment. But they obviously aren’t, if people react to them in vastly different ways.
Perhaps it does come down to the matter of taste. To each his or her own. Or does it speak to us as a society, that violence in entertainment bothers us far less than a frank depiction of sex?
Let me leave you with this thought: there was rampant controversy when Fifty Shades of Grey was released, but nobody fussed about the killings in Skyfall. Just saying.