Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues


          Another violation of humanity, another sacrifice of our children. Aside from the usual suspects of our finger-pointing, we do well to take a look within. “Swords into plowshares” is but a dream; the reverse is more the truth.

          We love violence. Young and old, most of what we see is found primarily in TV and movies. So herewith a little self-test: Among our favorites for prime-time viewing, how many contain violence–characters brandishing firearms, knives, fists and other bludgeons; featuring angry, threatening situations, where others, including the young, are witnesses? How many, by title or teaser, hint of mayhem to the extent that we are literally choosing them over other options where necessary differences are given rational, reasonable and realistic chances of resolution?

          Damn few, to be honest with ourselves: all those Bond movies, crime and gangster flicks, eerie spine-tinglers, even the brain-eating living-dead to which we give a pass because they’re “not real;” but neither were “Jaws” and “The Exorcist.” So what’s the attraction?

          Psychologists were besieged for explanations for the “Disaster” movies and replied with the old “it’s not me” viewer excuse. Really? We need for someone else to get the worst imaginable so we can feel better about ourselves?

           We can understand the occasional cheap thrill of such entertainments, but the mayhem-themed become epidemics of attraction, not to mention block-buster successes. The Hollywood intelligentsia insist that this is the “real world,” but how many reminders of that do we need beside daily headlines and all else that happens “for real” in this life?

          And don’t look back: movies in the good ol’ days had their own bad start. “The Great Train Robbery” of 1903 featured gunfights and the beating of the train engineer—and we were off and running. Presently 91% of movies on tv contain violence or extreme violence. Ninety percent of high-grossing movies portray the main character, whom we usually adore, involved in such behavior. “No violence, no story,” is the motto of the same intelligentsia: hence fighting or murder often launch the plots or are the pretext for action that follows.

          When movies evolved into “talkies,” the Hays Code came about to check on such things. E.g., Howard Hawks’ “Scarface” was edited so that the prologue condemned violence in general and the bad guys either came to know and admit their wrongs—or were killed off as a teaching moment. After all, it was just entertainment.

          No longer. Since then we’re sufficiently “woke” to where we think we can, with sophistication, stand anything—and have, from the fun folks in “The Godfather” series to the uncensored rape scene in “Clockwork Orange.” And that’s but the tip of the iceberg: did you enjoy “Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul,” and “Ozark”? Our tv fare typically depicts no consequences, not for atrocious crimes and psychological trauma to others, and with no judgments on the morality or lack thereof in the most heinous acts.

          Among crime dramas, including the one with the best writing and overall casting—Law & Order: SVU—so much violence is gratuitous, i.e., unnecessary and overreaching for the message of “special” victimization of innocent, trusting and vulnerable persons regardless of age, sex or lifestyle. And too many youth get a good start from video game mayhem where incitement to violence in young men is driven by the interactive nature of said games.

          Non-violent fare among our menu of amusements–you know, love and other silly emotions–are branded “chick flicks.” Best to ignore sophisticates who spout such nonsense and run, don’t walk, to our priceless local Screening Room.

Forgive me for no mention of the NRA and spineless politicians. They are a big part of the story. And we’re another part. Someday what we see on the order of Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Uvalde will bring hardly a tsk-tsk from us whilst we turn the channel back to our fave crime drama.

          (John Burciaga is not available for duels should anyone take serious issue with his comments—unless it’s snowballs in August. But you may disagree peacefully with him at Ichabod142@gmail.com)


  1. Yes, John and thank you! Betty and I do not watch violence so we are limited to “Nature” or “Nova” or whatever. I do think there is an undercurrent of violent meanness in our culture. Somehow we as a culture (maybe all cultures) are having trouble understanding and accepting Humanity. Seems we mistake winning as more important than human beings. I fear for our children and great grandchildren. Grace and peace. Jim

  2. Rubber-necking as we drive by an accident scene says something about the human condition.

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