NaNoWriMo Day 17 and Thoughts on Violence in Media

Grindhouse themed shoot

Still making my word count every day. I’m over 40K in this book. It’s going quite well.

That’s not the focus of this post.

Violence. A lot of our media is about violence, it features in so many of our shows and movies, it’s the main focus. It’s a strange form of violence, sanitized in a weird sort of way. Violence as a PG 13 form of entertainment.

In the seventies, there was a weird form of cinema called Grindhouse. It was often bloody and violent. It was more violent than mainstream cinema in a time when mainstream cinema was bloodier than it is today. Not more violent note, bloodier.

The thing is, the violence in those movies, it had consequences. There was no pretence. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t happy. It was desperate, and sad, and bloody.

In our modern version, the sanitized violence is fun, larger than life. Everyone who has a face or a name is fine, everyone who dies is faceless, less than human. No genre is more guilty of this than superhero movies. Pretty, harmless, the stuff from the seventies wasn’t like that. People died in terrible ways. Now, they just kind of aren’t there.

What we have now, it’s different.

Yesterday I started watching The Punisher.

The violence is the opposite of the sanitized, consequence-free violence in the rest of the Marvel universe.

The violence in the Punisher is never consequence free. No action is ever consequence free. Neither is inaction. It’s a level of dark nothing else in the MCU even comes close to approaching. It’s violence that feels like the real thing. No slow-motion ballet, no shaky cam, no slow-mo heros walk looking like badasses. In The Punisher when people get hurt they can be immobilised for days, they can come close to death.

You might cheer for Frank Castle, but mostly you don’t, instead, you feel pity, sorrow, maybe empathy.

This kind of violence, I think it’s needed, I think it shows people that violence truly isn’t the solution, or at least it’s a solution with far, far too high of a price tag. The Punisher, more than anything else I’ve seen from the MCU, is an anti-violence show. The extreme violence of it, the unflinching nature of that violence, it’s the antidote to violence, not something that encourages it.

Watch the Punisher, if you have the stomach for it.

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