I had a bad moment recently with my dear boyfriend. He brought over some DVDs of a Swedish detective series that he saw on public television and that he liked. He wanted to share the programs with me.
Well, but, this show opened with a scene of violence against innocent animals – a threatening group of men, trying to intimidate a wealthy landowner by killing his prized possessions – his swans.
I had a melt-down. I can deal with fictional violence to a point, but these characters did something so awful, I lost it. I actually walked out of my apartment. I went down the stairs, in the cold, in my stocking feet. It was so graphic, I could not get far enough away.
I have been re-living that scene in my mind a hundred times, even though I didn’t watch it to the end. It makes me sick.
Boyfriend felt terrible. He had no idea I would reaction that way. That scene was incidental to the narrative. But, this is what I have come to understand:
- I do not find violence entertaining. Ever.
- I cannot watch vulnerable creatures (animals, children, women) being hurt.
- I cannot stand to see anyone threatened or tortured or suffering.
- I especially hate to see vulnerable creatures in danger or killed.
This seems to indicate I cannot watch crime shows on TV. It’s a huge genre. But many crime shows and detective shows involve vulnerable people – young women, usually – being abducted and murdered. Why would anyone in their right mind think that was entertainment? It’s horrible – this is where it really hurts – so true in real life. How many local news stories are about missing or raped or murdered women?
It makes me know that I have to monitor what media I watch.
How do you feel? Does violence on TV or in movies affect your peace of mind? Do you watch crime shows? How do you deal with the death and violence?
Kate Elliott is editor of Gather magazine.
Photo by Alan Cleaver. Used with permission.