Sometimes I pretend I am an alien, arriving on this planet. Frankly, I feel like an alien a lot of the time because I just don’t understand humans.
Something that twists my head around is violence as entertainment. Here’s what I see:
We are horrified when there is a mass shooting or other cruel behavior. Yet, our entertainment choices are flooded with the same violence. If I were an alien, I would see the images of violence on the news and the violence in movies, TV shows, and video games, and I would not differentiate between the two.
Clearly, for some reason, we get our jollies on violence. But then we’re surprised when we see the same thing play out in real life.
My inability to consume violence for fun came to a head for me shortly after the pandemic hit the US. Steve and I had been vegging out watching TV. My favorites were Babylon Berlin, Outlander, Barry, and Ozark. Killing, killing, killing. And worse.
After a particularly violent episode of Outlander, I noticed how fearful I was. Going to sleep afraid. Waking up afraid. Fear infused me as a result of all the tortuous images I had been consuming for relaxation.
It wasn’t until I was watching The Kitchen, about three women who take over their crime boss husbands’ jobs, that I couldn’t bear one more scene of a person killing another in cold blood. There was nothing fun, enlightening, entertaining, or illuminating about seeing someone gunned down in a cavalier way.
At the end of May, I committed to not consuming abusive situations for entertainment. June had plenty of real-world violence; who needed more for fun?
This dovetailed with my long-held practice of consuming media and books from women, focused on women. I believe we need to see women in positions of power, using their strength, to shift a world with more women leading.
I use the Bechdel Test to determine if something is worth watching. From Wikipedia: The Bechdel Test is a measure of the representation of women in fiction. It asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.
Luckily, it’s getting easier to find media that pass the Bechdel Test. I love psychological dramas. That would be French and Swedish films, as well as indie films. Steve prefers what he calls L&F – Light and Fluffy films. Romcoms!
All of this matters to me, not just as a person who consumes media but as a creator. I stand for those who are writing new stories, stories that inspire a new vision of the world. Stories that feature BIPOC and women. Not just light and fluffy but real and inspiring.
Here are two movies I’ve watched recently featuring strong female characters. I’m not going into any analysis of these movies, and I am sure there is plenty to criticize in these shows. I don’t expect that they depict reality, but they feature brave and bold women despite the odds.
The Sapphires is about a group of young Australian singers who leave home to entertain troops in Vietnam.
All Together Now features a young woman who struggles to get beyond her circumstances to make a better life for herself—also starring Carol Burnett as an elderly curmudgeon.
How about you? Are you consuming less violence for fun?