I was trying to decide if I wanted to do this as a thought piece or a poem. The former won because I didn’t think the latter would work too well. This is actually connected to when I did a week on the ‘Perverted Character’ and got some rather visceral reactions. A lot of strong opinions against it, references to real life crimes, refusal of redemption, and the list goes on. I found this odd since I’d written posts on assassins, serial killers, warriors, and many others who solve problems through violence. Not a single condemnation on any of those fictional types and people never brought it into reality.
Now, I already touched on the why and such during that week, so this could end up being a rehash. People would rather battle over sex than touch on the violence. In fact, we couldn’t stay on the topic of violence for very long. So, I’m actually not really sure where to go with this topic . . . Time for the seat of my pants.
Personally, I think it’s easier for all of us to create a mental and emotional distance when it comes to fictional violence. While we see a person dying on screen or in a book, we know that there isn’t a real person being hurt. A big reason for this is because we don’t always have that kind of experience to make it real. Some people do and might react differently to seeing violence, but the majority of humanity doesn’t have that in their history. Yet, most people have some connection to sex and attraction. This makes it more real and we can picture it better. We can also see ourselves being in a sexual situation with more ease than violence. This is just what I get from talking to people, so you might not be in this boat.
Another thing is that we are bombarded with violence to the point where we build up an immunity. It’s part of our entertainment. Even some children shows will demonstrate a punch or something get hurt. You would think this creates a sensation of it being more real like what happens with sex, but we get desensitized a lot more to violence. It could be because there’s no shame or apprehension about showing it. The villain needs to get punched. Death is part of life. You need to fight, sometimes physically, to protect what you hold dear. We rationalize violence to the point where it is seen as a viable action when faced with a problem.
The difficult thing is that violence in fiction does capture attention because it’s a form of action. We, as a species, love to be excited and action is one way to do it. My stories would be really dull if the champions defeated the Baron with the shaking of a finger. Maybe it’s because bullies and those who do harm tend to only listen to the same tools that they use, which is violence. You can’t see it done any other way in some situations, so to remove violence would severely limit the types of stories you can do. Even a chase scene will have some violent aspects such as crashing into things and breaking stuff. It may seem we’re trapped with this being an acceptable tool in our creative arsenal.
So, what does everyone else think of violence in fiction?