June 20, 2013
Written by Joe Pisani
Thursday, 09 August 2012 11:12
My father loved violence. Bloodshed, brutality, murder, mayhem, gunfire, explosions, nuclear warfare. He loved it all — on his TV.
Sunday afternoon we'd take our daughters to see my parents for a home-cooked Italian meal, and the first thing you heard when you opened the door was a staccato burst of rifle fire from AK-47s, grenade blasts, yelling and screaming, and people writhing in agony.
It was the American way, the Hollywood way, and it made my body tense just listening to the torturous sounds, echoing through the house as if we were in the rice paddies of Vietnam or the alleys of a gang-infested city.
It didn't bother my father, who was so desensitized he could do crossword puzzles while people were getting tortured and decapitated and then look up and casually ask, "What's a six-letter word for 'jerks'?" By the time the afternoon was over, I needed a valium.
Something in a normal person's psyche revolts against violence, but so many of us have become psychological pin cushions that we don't feel anything — or worse, we feel violent.
More than a hundred studies have shown violence in film and television has seriously harmful effects on people, particularly youngsters, who become aggressive and antisocial.
Even before the studies started to appear, I had a hunch it wasn't good to let my daughters sit at the dinner table while people were getting blown apart or having their eyes gouged out.
I had to make a decision. What was more important, the home-cooked veal parmigiana or the welfare of my kids? I chose the veal. But as a compromise, I locked them in another room, where there was a DVD player with a collection of movies like "Charlotte's Web" and "Mary Poppins."
When my father died, he had five TVs in the house. I have none, and that eccentricity is liberating.
I thought of Dad recently while I was reading about the movie "Killer Joe," which is rated NC-17 because of the "graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality," according to the Motion Picture Association of America.
Actor Matthew McConaughey described the film about a drug dealer and cop who is a hit man as "a wild, raunchy, cheerfully amoral piece." The drug dealer hires the cop to kill his mother and offers his virgin sister as collateral. True 21st century Americana. I need another valium.
Shortly after the mass murder in a Colorado theater, I saw a headline that proclaimed Hollywood wasn't to blame for the slaughter. Maybe not, but it seems to me that's like Robert McNamara saying there were no civilian casualties in Vietnam.
So let the good times roll ... but please, no more nonsense about "artistic freedom" because it gets a little tired. Every time I hear that term used to justify a gang rape or someone getting a bomb shoved down his throat, I think, "How about some social responsibility instead of so much abused artistic freedom?"
We can't change the Hollywood Industrial Complex, but we can try to limit the casualties. Commit one small act of rebellion against The System. Say no to senseless violence, say no for the sake of your family and children. And turn off the TV.
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