Last week we discussed the changing use of language in our media, movies and books, and how we have gone from only finding the word damn acceptable for public consumption, to anything goes after the watershed.
This week I want to look at how the use of violence has changed. Both visual, in movies and television to books. Do you think our tolerance levels have changed or has it pretty much stayed the same?
Let me show you this video and you can decide for yourself.
*WARNING* DO NOT WATCH IF SENSITIVE TO VIOLENCE.
Scenes of extreme violence shown on today’s television post-watershed, including The Walking Dead, Vampires, and Breaking Bad. (There are a couple of decapitations.)
Move past the video to the text below if sensitive to content like this. The clip is 2 minutes 7 seconds long and shows both images from the past and the present.
If you watched it, you won’t have found images on the video that you can’t find described in books. Either crime or fantasy.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while. Every time I’m sat watching a crime drama and someone is shot and I see the blood spurt out of the bullet wound I realise it never used to be depicted like that when I was younger. If someone was shot, you heard the bang, the shot person would fall down and that was it. But, everything has changed. We have this obsession with making our art as realistic as possible.
Is this because of a demand for realism? Because, I know, writing procedural novels, that readers want to know the realities of a working police investigation, are the viewing and reading public to blame for this change, this rise in violence?
Or, is it just that, a simple rise in violence and we’ve become desensitised to it and the more we become desensitised the more they try to shock us. A few years ago they might have shown blood and guts, but in Buffy’s day we wouldn’t have seen a decapitation. We’re constantly moving forward. Just look at shows like Hannibal.
Where does it stop? Why, thirty years ago were we only able to view/read about punches and fake looking shootings, but now able to see/read about these graphic reality seeming images? Where will we draw the line? Do we need to? Is it that we are ore forward thinking and this is just art?
I’m not making any judgments. Maybe, I’m just showing my age in remembering the television I remember when I see the images I see now. But, this does also apply to books. Look at Agatha Christie books, then Patricia Cornwell describing dead bodies and post-mortems. We’re a long way from the Orient Express.