Personal/Political ~ Josette Brose-Eichar

Josette Brose-Eichar


The spectacle of violence

Posted on April 3, 2023 by Josette Brose-Eichar

This is the headline for a movie review of John Wick: Chapter 4: A three-hour killing spree perversely entertains. It claims the “fetishized violence” is “visually impressive.”

I do not watch movies like this; I believe that violence has consequences. In real life, killing rips people apart. Think of the families of those killed by law enforcement. Think of the hole in the lives of Andy Lopez’s family, to lose a child, to have him torn by gun fire. Think of people in Ukraine, seeing family members killed by gun fire, crushed in their homes destroyed by missiles. None of this is visually impressive or entertaining.  

Just because a movie is about killing “bad guys” does not justify the fact that people are entertained by watching hours of violence and death. I would venture to say the same people who enjoy watching John Wick annihilate people, would not watch movies like, All Quiet on the Western Front or Fruitvale Station. They would not want to watch the pain and horror of that war or the unjust killing of a young man. They want to believe that there is no real pain and suffering, that this “fetishized” violence is mere entertainment.

But, what does it do to those that watch this over and over, again and again? Do they become desensitized to feeling the pain of others? Or do they reach the end of the spectrum where they inflict violence on others, as it feels normal, justified, and even entertaining?

I am not naive enough to believe our society was ever a paradise of peace, love, respect, and understanding. Our history is one of killing and injustice. It was killing the people who lived here and stealing their land. Then enslaving people and killing them. If our history is portrayed accurately, and the pain and suffering caused by killing and violence is shown in movies and literature, then perhaps we could begin to change.  

If people worried less about a trans kid in the bathroom, or young people being taught about human sexuality and birth control, and more about our culture of entertainment by killing and violence, maybe we could approach a paradise of peace, respect, and understanding.

At 71, I am not attracted to the world of gaming. In fact I find it strange that it is even called gaming. Games like baseball are based on physical ability and competition. Games like chess are based on intellectual ability and competition. Most electronic games seem to be about killing someone or something. Are they the interactive version of John Wick movies? There are younger people in my life, who call themselves “gamers”. So far none of the gamers I know have descended into actual violence, but I wonder about others, especially those that find this to be their main interest in life.

You may say to me, how can you talk about these movies if you do not watch them? I did, many years ago. When I was in my 20s a boyfriend asked me to go to a movie, Death Race 2000.  About 30 minutes into the movie, after about 10 people were pulverized by cars in this race, I walked out.

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