Enough with All the Violence Already
When it comes to TV and movies, a plea for more uplifting content
Dull can be a very good thing — for me, boring has become a major selling point.
Lately I find that whenever I turn on the television, some character is dying or a group of people are investigating how someone or plenty of someones have died. Most every movie at the cineplex — where up to 15 are playing — is an action-packed thriller. Each one seems to be filled with two hours of gore, guts, murder and mayhem.
Can I please get a baking show or a full-length feature about people on vacation having dinner? I would love to gasp at the costumes or the dialogue, not at how cruel and evil characters can be to each other.
I may be the only one who feels this way. I imagine millions, perhaps billions of dollars have been spent on consumer research to find that most people want to see violent movies with high body counts and car, boat and plane chases. I can stay home and watch vintage reruns, I guess, but it would be nice if there was new content that didn’t make me cringe.
Now that it is fall and many of us are spending a little more time at home, cocooning in the evenings after work, I would appreciate the chance to unwind to some serene entertainment that has the shock equivalency of elevator music. The days are challenging enough that I am not looking to be a voyeur on fictional high conflict. I don’t want to be intellectually or emotionally disrupted. I want some soothing.
Yes, yes, I can always read, and I do. But sometimes I just want to turn on the TV and quietly absorb the gentle goings on of someone far, far away. Or I want to recline in the movie theater with unsalted popcorn in a bucket on my lap and have a fantasy, romance or inspiring tale unfurl before me so I can go home, not agitated or alarmed, but uplifted.
I don’t mind crying at a reunion or a surprising turn of events. I just do not have the capacity left over to cry at a made-up tragedy or misfortune. The real world is tough enough.In the entertainment I consume, I prefer the excitement factor of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” but with the wardrobe changes of “Downton Abbey.” And this brand of content is really not what is available most all the time. It’s not that I don’t want to be surprised, it’s that I don’t want to be shocked out of my skin. A pleasant surprise would be welcome, but a serial murder is not a pleasant surprise. I am indeed not the norm, at least not among the average ticket-buying movie audiences.
Researchers at Mississippi State University recently found, in a study of close to 2,100 popular movies between 1992 and 2012, that the amount of violent content was a significant predictor of ticket sales. Simply stated, more people buy tickets to really violent movies.
So I may be alone here in my desire to experience tranquility at the theater or at home watching something with the terror factor of leaves falling off tree limbs. But I think life has enough complications and built-in conflict that I am not going to elect for my entertainment to make me high-strung.
I was recently at a concert where my close friend, Lisa, was performing. She is a singer and pianist and her band of six musicians were all smiling throughout the jazzy-pop performance, as they sang through a dozen or so remixed Beatles melodies. The music was calming and fulfilling at the same time, making everyone in the concert space look as if they were having the time of their lives. I drove home completely elated.I was entertained, not jarred, challenged or pushed into a sudden reaction. I was just happy. It may be too much to ask when I turn on the television or when I go to the mall for a movie, but I prefer to calm down, not get stoked.
Maybe it is my age or my temperament, but I find nothing appealing about fictional shows or real-life documentaries that examine the worst in humanity or dissect acts of cruelty and package it all as distraction. I want to see fewer crimes and more conversations.
I know many will disagree with me and say action movies, TV series and shows are the antidotes for a dull life, that they make life exciting by vicariously observing all the high-speed chases and high stakes interactions. But I don’t need or want simulated chaos. I want calm.And if that makes me unfathomably boring, then that is something I can handle. Dull is just fine with me.Edit Module