The last five years have seen an increase in the stand on violence in movies. As action
movies with their big stars are taken to new heights every year, more people seem to
argue that the violence is influencing our country?s youth. Yet, each year, the amount of
viewers also increases. This summer?s smash hit Independence Day grossed more money
than any other film in history, and it was full of violence. The other summer hits included
Mission: Impossible, Courage Under Fire, and A Time to Kill. All of these movies
contained violence, and all were highly acclaimed. And all, with the exception of
Independence Day, were aimed toward adults who understood the violence and could
separate screen violence from real violence. There is nothing wrong with having violence
in film. If an adult wants to spend an evening watching Arnold Schwartzenager Save the
world, then he should have that right.
Film critic Hal Hinson enjoys watching movies. In fact, he fell in love with
movies at the same time that he remembers being afraid for the first time. He was
watching Frankenstein, and, as he described in his essay ?In Defense of Violence,? it
played with his senses in such a way that he instantaneously fell in love with movies. .
The danger was fake, but Hinson described that it played with his senses in such a way
that he almost instantly fell in love. Hinson feels that most movie lovers were incited by
the same hooks as himself. Movies were thrilling, dangerous, and mesmerizing (Hinson
Hinson says that as a culture, we like violent art. Yet this is not something that is
new to today's culture. The ancient Greeks perfected the genre of tragedy with a use of
violence. According to Hinson, they believed that "while violence in life is destructive,
violence in art need not be; that art provides a healthy channel for the natural aggressive
forces within us" (Hinson 585). Today, the Greek tragedy is not often seen, but there are
other shows movies that embody and use violence. Tom and Jerry, The Three Stooges,
and popular prime time shows including the highly acclaimed NYPD Blue and ER are all
There is a surplus of violent movies in Hollywood. Usually, the years highest
moneymakers are violent. Even Oscar winning movies, those movies that are "the best of
the year," have violence in them. Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiving, and In the Line of
Fire are just a few.
Even with all this violence on both the small and big screen, Hinson makes a clear
statement that real-life violence is the problem, not movie violence. He feels that people
fear screen violence because they fear we might become what is depicted on screen.
Hinson feels that to enjoy violence, one must be able to distinguish between what is real
and what is not (Hinson 587).
Another essay, this one entitled ?Popcorn Violence,? illustrates how the type of
violence seen in film and television is completely different than real life violence. The
author, Roger Rosenblatt, describes how young children can be exposed to screen
violence early on in life, yet the type of violence is so fictional that the connection between
what is seen on television and what goes on out in the streets is never made. The example
Rosenblatt uses to illustrate this point is wrestling. In professional wrestling there are
good guys, such as Hulk Hogan and Randy ?Macho Man? Savage, and bad guys, which
includes the likes of The Undertaker and Rowdy Piper. Every Saturday morning they go
into the ring and fight. Its good versus bad. The show, of course, is humorous, as it is
meant to be. The characters are so strange that they are comical. They roam around the
ring, yelling and screaming, looking quite ridiculous. They play to the crowd, either
making them boo or cheer. Occasionally, for example, if say Hulk Hogan is winning a
fight, the bad guy?s friends might join in and gang up on Hulk. All of this violence, and
the kids love it (Rosenblatt 589).
The same occurs in ?action? movies. There is a good guy and a bad guy, but the
bad guy usually has lots of friends, and they all gang up on the good guy. Rosenblatt
explains that sometimes you root for the good guys, and other times for the bad guys. He
says that we root for the bad because sometimes ?you?re simply bored with the good guys
and the bad are beautiful? (Rosenblatt 589-90). But when we do root for the good guy, it
is because all odds are against him.