Should we boycott violent movies and TV series?

I am sure most of us have heard about the impact of violent video games on some children. Research has well proven that at least some children watching this type of video games caused their interactions with others in real life to become more violent.

Somehow, the fact that we as adults are watching all kinds of movies, but predominantly violent ones, I suspect matters. By watching lots of it we might get used to the violence and become desensitized to it, lowering the standards for non-violence. Looking at today’s listings I see that these movies are overwhelmingly about violence, torture–often of women, foreign or alien armies attacking us, or the USA or other quasi- authority backed actions against other nations or individuals. And then there are softer movies: comedies and chick flicks. I list them here:

For ages 14A:

Bullet to the Head
Django Unchained
Broken City
Gangster Squad
The Last Stand
Zero Dark Thirty
Silver Linings Playbook
The Impossible
Stand up Guys

Rated 18A

Movie 43: a comedy, warning for some language

Rated PG

Hansel &Gretel: the Witch Hunt
is rated for age 8 and up, really?? A warning said it might be too scary for young or ‘sensitive’ children, but is still rated PG. The sweet children have now become witch hunters and the movie is about hunting witches 15 years later: the witch as well as a duck are boiled and then blown up.

Skyfall–I’m not sure but my guess is some people are being killed in the movie–haven’t seen it.
Warm Bodies, a zombie movie
Life of Pi
Les Miserables, musical
Promised Land
Quartet, a comedy

Of all those, only one movie is considered OK for children and all ages:

Rated General:

The Hobbit

I seldom go to movies, as there are few coming out that I would like to see, skipping movies about gangsters, zombies, flesh eating teens, werewolves, war heroism and future disasters. I am watching movies for my entertainment, for being moved by people’s stories or uplifted and inspired by them. I also like documentaries when they are well made and showing truth. I quite liked Lincoln, although it was quite violent and shocking to me seeing all those dead and chopped up soldiers in the US civil war scenes. I sure hope that would never be repeated so close to our borders.

I do not like the kind of movies that are aggrandizing aggressive acts by a government perpetrated abroad, or revisionary propaganda about historic events turned into an adventure flick, such as the latest movies of that kind, Argo, or Zero Dark Thirty about the illegal and controversial action of a US specialized team killing Osama Ben Laden in Pakistan without knowledge of any of Pakistan’s officials that should be informed. The CIA (and Obama)appointed themselves in effect prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner without the international court involved, no trial, and in my view no justice: just killing someone does not constitute justice in any situation. The movie sounds to me like an attempt to whitewash. I haven’t seen it, but I saw Argo and found that movie quite insulting in how the locals were portrayed.

I find that few American movies with a historic basis are subtle, or truthful, and they are always “prettied up”, or “dumbed down”, catering to the lowest common denominator and making watching them a mindless activity. The word propaganda comes to mind. For example, when was it ever legal or justified under international law to enter a sovereign nation without consulting, or at east informing its government that a CIA operation will hunt down and kill a person without proof of his crimes in a court of law and as well killing several relatives and calling that collateral damage? (Zero Dark Thirty)

I do like some thrillers that are subtle in its scenes and do not deal with scores of dead. Crime is a factor of humanity, evil the other side of goodness. Although gratuitous violence and gore is not my thing, crime and the process of deterioration of human’s behaviour to that point and the quest to find out what caused it, is interesting to me.

There are not many crime movies that I have watched lately. The last ones that I found riveting were foreign made from Stieg Larsson’s books. Too bad the guy is dead himself. Then the movies were “translated” and remade for the American market; I didn’t bother seeing them.
I also watch British detective series on TV with their slower paced, humane approach to crime, paying more attention to the intricacies of society and relationships to arrive at their suspect, with fewer technical advances and tricks of the lab added. A new series, Vera, I like a lot that is broadcast on the Knowledge network, BC’s public television.

American made movies might easily find financial backers when they are guaranteed an audience. Those movies that serve to justify and glorify possession of, and the use of guns by citizens in the US “to protect themselves from the bad guys” (guns that seems to be exported to Canada and Mexico as well by the same bad guys) seem to always attract a large audience. I would think violence is maintained, even revered, and the attitudes to gun possession is enforced by watching those violent movies. Watching and making those type of movies is the way in which the US and by extension, Canadian society is justifying gun use for defense against aliens, criminals and whatever other illogical and irrational dangers might lurk around the corner, evil that is on the loose in our society.
I wonder, what comes first, the chicken or the egg?

I am quite appalled by the low rating for movies for all of this violence: 14 and over. Only one movie was deemed suitable only for people over 18, and that was a comedy with satire, albeit with much sexual language. So I am asking, is sex and talking about it dangerous for younger minds, but violence is not? Is anybody questioning at all if watching all that violence is good for young people, or what seeing a lot of violence and aggression to women does to young minds ?

The age of 14 is a time where the brain is overloaded by hormones and when patterns of arousal are being established. We are already having a great problem in society with violence against women and in many of those thrillers, women are killed, violated, raped, or otherwise preyed on. Some time ago I stopped watching the CSI TV series, as I am sick of it. I don’t watch the other, similar American crime dramas anymore.

I intend to continue to put my money where my mouth is and select what I will select them on the content, with an eye to violence and gun use, type of victims and objectivity in its political messages. Canadian and British movies just fit my parameters more often than American/Hollywood movies. I wished we could also watch more foreign movies in our Canadian theaters. I haven’t seen Life of Pi yet, a movie by Ang Lee, an Taiwanese born American film director from a novel by Yann Martel, a Canadian author, about a 14 year old stuck on a small vessel after a shipwreck, with a Bengal tiger. It should be interesting.

What kind of movies do you watch?
Do you like foreign movies?

About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
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  1. Theresa Wynn says:

    Like you, I have almost completely eschewed violence in cinema, stage and even books, as well as terror (although I used to have a fascination with a well made psychological thriller, “Silence of the Lambs” comes to mind). However, over the last couple of decades I have lost the need to be sickened, frightened, shocked and appalled in cinema. Now I like to laugh, to think, or to be romanticized as I am entertained. Thanks for the insightful blog.

  2. I’m with you. Some movies I can’t watch and many more I simply don’t want to watch. I occasionally like a doomsday movie, or a good whodunit but mostly comedy or “sweet” movies like Marigold Hotel (I never can remember the exact adjectves). I abhor horror (hah) and violence. I heard Movie 43 got the lowest ratings ever. One movie critic gave it zero stars, as over-the-top disgusting, nothing good about it. If we keep on boycotting what makes us uncomfortable, we won’t become desensitized. Who wants to go to a movie just to say they’ve seen it? It has to be a good experience or it isn’t worth the popcorn.

    • Hi Lynn,

      Thanks so much for your response. Yes, I saw the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on a flight from Mexico and liked it, was pretty funny at times. I think I could steal the idea of the movie and start a hotel in the small town where I go (in a year or two), get people to come off their own rat race and enjoy the differences between that place and their everyday, comfortable lives. I enjoyed your post on the Life of Pi and will go and see it soon.

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