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Comment: Why violence in film isn't a bad thing

12th February 2013

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After seeing Django Unchained, a film which revels in vicious violence, I couldn't help coming out of the cinema thinking that the whole thing was, quite literally, awesome.  

Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie

Now, it’s not that I enjoy see people being shot, maimed and whipped, but I do enjoy a‘badass’ revenge story directed by Quentin Tarantino.

The violence is simply a necessary cog in the machine that makes a truly great movie and anyone who says that they didn’t get a certain amount of satisfaction when a sadistic slaver got shot, was either lying or is a closet supporter of the Southern American states during the 19th century.

I’m assuming it wouldn’t be the latter and if you’re reading this whilst thinking that you didn’t approve of all the shooting, then, it was probably the manner in which the violence was portrayed… not the reasons behind the violence. After all, violence is a part of life and although Tarantino may exaggerate it sometimes with copious amounts of blood, he doesn’t hide the fact that it’s there, everywhere, all the time.

It’s a simple fact that slavery in America was aggressive, racist and unfair beyond reason. If the majority of films on Earth were always pulling rose-tinted glasses over our eyes, the world would be a damn confusing place, with really dull cinema. Sometimes in film, Bambi’s mum just needs to take the bullet and we have to live with it.

Violence may be necessary in many films but it has been a point of controversy lately in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings. It would be naïve to believe that violent films didn’t have some minor role in the encouragement of certain sick individuals to perform abhorrent acts. However, the fact that they are “sick” is the main issue.

These people are mentally ill, evil or unstable and would’ve probably gone on a deranged shooting spree without the previous use of video games and films. The problem is not the material; it’s the people who interpret it in the wrong manner that are the issue. These people could be influenced by anything or anyone. We blame film sometimes because it’s right there in our face, it’s big and it’s always easiest to use the ‘biggest’ thing as a scapegoat because everyone can relate to it.

We’ve all stared apprehensively at our TVs, just to check the girl from The Ring isn’t going to crawl out of it, or had a minor panic attack at the sound of a creaking floorboard after watching Paranormal Activity. It’s natural for humans to be scared and influenced by films in some small way, however, the influences usually dissipate quickly. The fact is, mass killings by individuals were happening way before films were invented and the unfortunate situation in America now is that the ability to purchase weapons capable of such evil feats is still a disturbingly easy process.

If we ban violent films, will we also eventually ban TV programmes with ‘inappropriate themes’, books that describe potentially dangerous scenarios - or perhaps just free speech altogether? Where will it end?

The National Rifle Association in the US should be ashamed to imply that the weapons used by Adam Lanza to kill 20 children could have also been used to protect them. Films didn’t kill them, a disturbed murderer with easy access to a semi-automatic weapon did. In a study by the United Nation's Drug and Crime Office, the countries with the right to bear arms had a higher percentage of gun deaths than those without this right. This begs the question, who actually uses them for protection?

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