Before I talk about violence, let’s talk about sex for a moment.
I don’t remember who made the quote. But, reading it, I felt stupid for not realising it sooner. Basically, it asserted that depiction of sex should be more acceptable than the depiction of violence.
Why? Because sex is nice and violence isn’t. Religious sins aside, I am certain every non-asexual person who has ever lived finds consensual sex pleasurable. I would be surprised if you can many people who enjoy getting stabbed and shot at.
Unnecessary depiction of sex -even in a small amount- can be distracting. But, unless I am a small-time actor who cannot opt out from performing the scenes, I prefer that over excessive violence.
This makes me wonder: why do creators love depicting violence?
Obviously, unless they need psychiatric help, the answer is not that they love it.
If they openly admit they create anything that is popular, they are profoundly intrigued by the existence of violence or they just love action-oriented scenes, then I get why they create violent works.
If they dwell with stories of superheroes, criminals, martial artists, soldiers or adventurers and claim such stories won’t work without violence, then my feelings are mixed.
On one hand, I do get why said stories need violence. All of them deal with lots of physical actions and may feature violent characters, which are not inherently out of place.
But, on the other hand, what I said above is arbitrary.
Superhero and war stories can focus on the nature of heroism and morality and how the actions psychologically affect the protagonists; the latter can also focus on the validity of patriotism. Crimes do not always involve violence and their stories can also explore the nature of morality. Martial art stories can focus on the characters’ journey of improving their craft and that can be very psychological. And adventure stories? I am certain we don’t need violent villains to experience greater risk in our lives; life will provide it for us.
If you want to depict abusive relationships, the depiction of physical aspect is just a bonus; the most painful part about it is – once again – the psychological effects. Words – even ones uttered by the calmest and honeyed voice – can hurt more than cuts and bruises… and I personally can attest to that.
From my perspective, those creators appear to possess limited amount of imagination; they are unable to conjure narratives devoid of violent acts. They are unable to be creative with their supposedly beloved genres.
I have very limited experiences immersing myself in works of various genres. And yet, I can easily conjure war, superhero, martial art and adventure story ideas that do not involve violence.
Admittedly, I have problems writing stories inspired my own life using magical realist and surrealist styles – styles which I find most comfortable writing fiction in – , let alone writing genres which I clearly have no skills and knowledge in. It would be a miracle if I ever finish more than ten short stories in my lifetime.
But, one thing for certain: I don’t feel insecure about my own imagination.
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