Movie Violence–Where Is It Taking Us?

I unexpectedly found myself having to see “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2” and I’m glad I did. It put me face to face with an issue those who go to those movies usually don’t want to see and those who don’t rather not think about.  It is what many expect it to be, a movie with amazing special effects, and as its title guarantees literally an out of this world story line. It is as all movies of this genre well done, and in 3D it is even more so. But it raises a question, is it what we want from movies now? Do we really want movies where the special effects dazzle, where the violence surpasses itself, where characters are not necessarily like people we know, but like what we think people are? The characters in this movie, as in many others, particularly of the blockbusters type, each represent an amalgam of stereotypes including their sassy way of speaking. Take the example of the robotic female who is stronger than most, can endure pain, is filled with rage but has a soft spot that can be reached. Added to the stereotype amalgams passing as individuals, the story line is very thin. Need I say more than having the hero’s father with a name and a planet called Ego. Not surprisingly, the fun of the movie is like cotton candy, a whiff and its gone while in retrospect it doesn’t seem that much fun at all. What will last whether we like it or not is the violence.  Of course without special effects violence would run the risk of being jaded and déjà vu, and without violence special effects would also run the risk of being jaded and déjà vu. For those who remember the Star Wars movies, where Jedis fought The Empire,  the comparison is striking,  the special effects are still no less spectacular but the use of violence reveals how far we’ve come—or not—depending on one’s point of view.  It does look like an addiction, the more drugs we take, the more we want. And the violence via the special effects does raise the question of our addiction to such movies. Where does it end? Where will it end? The violence and special effects already overshadow the story as well as the characters. What’s left is a sense that our culture accelerates our being inured to violence, that violence in movies on that scale ends up being mirrored in real life in  myriad ways—mass shootings for one. I don’t know that researchers have established such a direct link, but must we wait for that? Must we expose our youngsters? (The movie by the way is PG 13) Fritz Lang, the noted classic filmmaker once made a movie about a child’s murder called simply “M” and in film classes, seeing a child play with a ball and then following the ball roll away by itself after the child is harmed is used as an example of what we could say is less is more.  Many will like the movie, many will enjoy it, money will be made from it  but all that is not sufficient for us not to pause and ask, where is it all taking us and do we want to go there?

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