Craving violence is human

Growing Pains

After arriving at my friend’s house and talking about pure nothingness for a few minutes, it became clear that we were bored and needed something more than each other’s company to have a good time. She suggested we play some video games, which I happily agreed to — “Mario Kart” has always been one of my guilty pleasures. My excitement turned to disgust when she pulled out a thick collection of “Call of Duty”games. Everyone seems to enjoy these violent games, but I never understood why something that was basically simulated murder was so appealing.

Violent games like Call of Duty are no different than watching a killing scene in a movie or even a fight scene. These scenes are adrenaline-pumping, exhilarating and oddly satisfying. Violence in video games and movies is acceptable, but it’s obviously not in real life. How is it that something that would be a tragedy in the real world is entertainment on the big screens?

People’s cravings for violence date back to when sports were first introduced. As George Orwell said, sports are like war without the shooting. The opponent is the enemy, and the goal is to take them down in any way possible. Most sports are not purposely violent — I love a good game of basketball or soccer — but some, such as football, boxing, and rugby, are inherently so. I’ve been to a fair share of sporting events, and I know I’m not the only one who is astonished by the behavior of some fans who curse, yell at and threaten players. The intensity of the game due to fans’ strong allegiances to their respective teams instills violent thoughts in spectators that can and have gone too far. Since sports are a permanent part of society, the violence that goes along with some of them is too, but it doesn’t mean fans should get so caught up in the games that they start to act so hostile.

Even when reading the news, if there are no reports of an attack or something inhumane, people consider the content to be boring. If given the choice between reading an article about a murder or a new bill being passed, it’s likely a surprising number of individuals would pick the former.

Because the news is accessible on so many different platforms, virtually everyone is able to acquire the information it contains, including adolescents and children. 50 years ago, this was not the case. Our parents were not exposed to violent news reports on television or computers because they didn’t have the technology in their homes. Of course they learned of events happening in the world other ways, but the news was never as available as it currently is. Nowadays, a click of a button exposes anyone to such reports. They are everywhere, to the point where they become a part of daily life. Not only is something like a murder expected, it is an ordinary event in the minds of people of all ages.

The obsession with violence as entertainment has been taken too far.  Television shows about murders, both fictional and based on true stories, are increasingly popular. There’s something sickeningly intriguing to people about how a killing is carried out from start to finish. I’ve heard countless teenagers my age say how awesome it would be to be a crime scene investigator, just because they watch “CSI.”Shows like this glamorize violence and make it seem “cool,” while in reality, these jobs and what they deal with are nothing but serious.

It’s a bit disturbing to know that my friends’ middle school-aged siblings play violent video games and long to see violent R-rated movies. At a certain age, we know it’s “just a game” or “just television,” but for a lot of children, it’s pure entertainment. I don’t know about you, but this strikes me as very wrong. Too many kids have been desensitized to the fact that violence and killing are not glamorous, heroic phenomena the media portrays them to be.

Craving violence has been and always will be a part of human nature. Some form of brutality will always exist in society no matter what. If one needs to satisfy this guilty pleasure, the best outlet for violence is watching or participating in minimal-contact sports. It’s not, however, necessary to indulge in violence on screens or in the newspaper. Doing so can take away from the seriousness of real-life massacres and tragedies.

If you do find yourself with a controller in hand and a television in front of you, make sure you’re steering Mario away from the bushes, not shooting at soldiers in a virtual war.


Contact Rebecca Gluck at [email protected].