Violence in Pop Culture – II
Editor of Paste, Josh Jackson, calls our attention to the prolific violence of American culture:
Violence in the media is a terrible thing. Except of course, for those great battle scenes in The Lord of the Rings…I am really repulsed by the idea of torture-porn flicks like Saw and Hostel, and don’t understand how anyone could enjoy watching them. And I’m bothered by games like Grand theft Auto that put you in the shoes of a gangster. Yet I gleefully watch Samuel L. Jackson burst onto the scene like the vengeful hand of God and lay waste to pathetic junkies in Pulp Fiction…From the Bible to the work of Cormac McCarthy, the best stories are filled with conflict, and often that takes the form of violent antagonists and heroes who fight for justice…So where’s the line?
Where is the line? For those that claim some kind of moral compass, where do we go when confronted by the onslaught of violence in media? Do we watch Ultimate Fighting or flip the channel? For the West, figures like Ghandi and Jesus seem to call us south of violence, to peace. Jesus commanded his disciples to put away swords, pursue peace, not be agitators, to turn the other cheek, and to set minds on things that are pure, and so on. When considering the Bible, there seems to be a conflicting ethic. War in the Old Testament and peace in the New. Does Jesus stand the OT war ethic on its head? I don’t think so. The descriptive war of the OT is not meant to be prescriptive for post-OT culture. After all the OT prophets longed for a time when “swords would be turned to plowshares.”There is a difference between Scripture using war imagery and actually watching war/fighting as entertainment. For Christians, one question that needs answersing is: “Where is the ethical line between sport and violence in our imitation of Jesus?” Where do you draw the line in violence in pop culture, in the media? Why?