“I never watch a movie that is R rated or above. If I want to watch violence, I’ll just turn on the news.”
These words came from my seventh grade religion teacher, needless to say, after she made this statement there was laughter throughout the classroom. As a seventh grader, I thought my teacher was being overly sensitive and dramatic, that watching violence on the television was much worse than going to an R rated movie. When you turn on the news, it’s real.
The United States war against ISIS continues with the body count growing larger and larger by the hour. Just today, February 19th 2016, there were American airstrike “on a training camp in Sabratha, targeting a Tunisian militant associated with planning two major attacks on Western tourists in Tunisia last year”. Along with multitude of drone attacks on the middle east, this continues to be a hot button topic in the presidential race debates. And even with these pressing issues that plague our everyday life, we still perpetuate stereotypes of torture and the heroic act of saving hundreds of lives for the cost of the “uncomfortability” of just one life. Constantly portraying the “ticking time bomb” scenario we still in multiple crime scene shows; more commonly known as “torturetainment”.
My initial reaction to torturetainment is to make it stop. It desensitizes the American people to scenes of violence through the multiple media platforms that have been made available through the technological revolution. I could reference the multiple studies from the multiple universities and corporations that show the different parts of the brain that do not give the satisfactory reaction to images of violence. How videogames and movies desensitize the youth of America into serial killers, or about “the millennial era” is much dirtier and more horrific than the baby boomers or even generation X. But that would be a lie.
The only difference between the baby boomer generation and the millennial era, is that millennial’s have nowhere to hide.
With the revolution of the internet being ever present in my generation, our lives began to be broadcasted from the moment we got a computer or a smartphone. All of the dirty secrets we had hoped to hide were put on the internet, either by ourselves or someone else. The baby boomer generation undoubtably have had some of the same fears and secrets as we do, but they were able to hide away their secrets in their youth and not have to cringe every time they saw a status from when they were in middle school. The revolution of social changed everything, especially torturetainment. Information is accessible to anyone who can go to google or any other internet based source engine, I was able to find the news article of the airstrikes in Sabratha within ten seconds. I could easily many more stories like it within the same time frame. But what does it have to do with torturetainment? Education.
I believe that the job of torturetainment can instead turn in the favor of anti-violence propaganda. Instead of desensitizing the youth, it should be used to make the audience realize that scenarios that they are watching are reality. Unless the viewer is a sociopath, any rational person would be uncomfortable with the scenes that are presented in the front of them; but are usually rationalized as means to an end. Whether that be the ticking time bomb, getting to the next level of a game or expediting the plot of a movie. The words of my seventh grade religion teacher give some good insight, the news makes audiences uncomfortable and depressed, opposed to the scenes in movies and games, because you are faced with the fact that it is real. The biggest roadblock of stopping torture is because of its taboo nature, when one brings up the horrors of torture and a means to stop it, it is snubbed as inappropriate. When you bring light to these issues and give a platform to spread solutions, change happens.
I believe that torturetainment can be a source of education and propaganda in favor of anti-violence, the key is to take the feeling of uncomfortability one feels when watching one of these scenes and educate the viewer of the reality of the situation. Not the ticking time bomb scenario, not a means to an end; but reality.
The reality is that these tactics are known by the American people and it done by our government with full permission. Getting uncomfortable?