Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Case of Sex v. Violence

Kind of a takeoff on yesterday’s comments about sex being shunned in various media. Sex is reacted to so quickly—hello, FCC, did we show two people grinding in too realistic a manner?—but violence usually isn’t, except in the most improbable of ways.

When someone is shot on television (namely network television), they might have to go to the hospital or go through rehab, but rarely is the actual holy-crap-I’ve-been-hit shooting bloody. I mean, if someone was shot in the arm or the leg, they bleed. A lot. TV stabbings are even more ridiculous. There should be a damned pool of blood under him! And this begs the question of why they show violence if they don’t show the consequences correctly. This isn’t Looney Tunes and the dead guy isn’t the Coyote. He can’t detonate a bomb and not be blown to bits. CSI.

More vexing, people seem more willing to let children watch/read violence than to be exposed to sex. A few years ago, I went with my mother, sister and nine year old nephew to see the Halloween remake. I don’t know if she did it as a joke or not but my sister covered her son’s eyes whenever sex appeared on the screen. Um, hello? People were violently and semi-realistically murdered. Am I the only one more concerned about that?

Of course, I can’t complain too much since I was exposed to violence at a much younger age—Law and Order dead bodies, so it kind of borders on realistic. And you know. Stephen King. But regardless, is sex that much worse than graphic violence? Hell, look at the book I’m writing. No sex, but sooooo much violence—part of the story of course, but that’s immaterial. The point is, if (oh, please when) it gets published, I doubt it will be pulled (or threatened to) from libraries and schools like SPEAK, TWENTY BOY SUMMER, etc. Because in my book, it’s only people being shot. None of them are admitting a perfectly normal human function exists.



  1. "Because in my book, it’s only people being shot. None of them are admitting a perfectly normal human function exists."

    You hear that? That's the sound of you hitting the nail on the head. I find it amazing that violence is so widely accepted, but sex is shunned completely. I mean, come on--what's more scarring for a child's mind?

  2. I've noticed this, and it is odd. Of course, I'm not sad that violence is toned down for network TV. But when it comes to young children, I would prefer that they not see violence OR steamy sex scenes.

    Even more odd: Our culture is more upset about sex than violence, but violent films get an R rating, while movies with a lot of sex get a PG-13 (usually). It's like our whole culture is bipolar.

  3. Kristina: My thoughts exactly. Sex is only bad when people ignore it.

    Su: Agreed on the first point, although I'm not so sure about the movies. Blue Valentine went through that whole ratings fiasco because of a single sex scene, and I've seen some pretty violent PG-13 movies (Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones). I really think violence can go a lot farther.

  4. Sex phobia is good old-fashioned American hypocrisy. In the new world, on the frontier we kill to protect ourselves. Sex? That's only for the harlots.

  5. sex creates uncomfortable questions - violence does not.

  6. I couldn't agree more. And it's a very American issue. In Europe, they tell kids early on where babies come from. There's no mystery. Adults here are shocked when American parents object (loudly). Those same parents buy weapons for their kids to play with. Somehow, the priorities have gotten all screwed up.

  7. Robert: Agreed. Everyone treats sex as a bad thing and I just don't think it is.

    Jhon: Well put.

    Alison: That's what bothers me. Shooting and killing things is okay but sex is somehow evil and corrupts children?

  8. I completely agree with the comment that television violence should show the appropriate amount of blood and actual consequences, if it's going to be shown at all. There's an interesting chapter in David Grossman's book _On Killing_ that speaks to exactly what you've mentioned -- how some people are queasy about sex and want it to happen behind closed doors, and others feel that way about death, but both are part of human life.


  9. I've often thought the Indians would have done well to sink the Puritan ships and wait for more reasonable white people to come along.

  10. Its true, what's with the violence, kids and even adults get ideas by watching these on tv



Please validate me.