[lit-ideas] media violence

  • From: JulieReneB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 16:45:41 EDT

I wonder if any of the (justifiably, in my opinion) outraged parents of these 
students took their children to see The Passion?

I've been thinking alot lately about the role of technology and visual 
representations of violence.  This is going to be fuzzled because I'm actually 
posting this hoping someone will articulate what I'm having trouble 
articulating to 
myself.  I don't even necessarily want an answer articulated -- if someone 
can figure out what question I'm trying to ask it would be a start.  (I know -- 
if you don't even know what you're asking....).  There's such an instantaneous 
availability of information now -- theoretically someone could real-time send 
live video of Iraqi prisoner abuse via a picture cell phone.  The media is 
able to portray to us in real time the destruction of the Towers, the bombings 
in Iraq, etc.  Things that used to be only written about or sketched are now 
available to us individually instantly.  Do I want congress to push to have all 
400 or however many there are photos of Iraqi abuse splattered all over the 
media?  Do I think American's need to know?  By seeing those pictures am I 
participating in the act perpetrated by the photographer?  What value is there 
showing high school students (or adults, via Al Arabiya for that matter) video 
of Berg's execution?  How is it different from being told about it?  If there 
had been no pictures of Iraqi abuse, would it have gotten the attention it 
did, merely from witness reports?  What about The Passion?  How is that 
qualitatively different from showing an execution?  Because it isn't "real" in 
film?  It was real once.  Because it happened 2,000 years ago to people instead 
2 days ago?  What if someone had been in the concentration camps with a video 
camera?  Would we show children the footage?  We let them see pic's in their 
history books.   The visual violence has an emotive impact that words 
generally lack.  I have very mixed feelings about all of these -- but there's a 
seminal question that I can't form about what technology is doing in the area 
real life violence and its sort of overlay with pornographic types of material. 
How is the execution of Berg different from the incredible violence in movies? 
 (Ghost Ship, e.g., which I haven't seen but which College kids tell me they 
walked out of, vomiting.) More than once I heard the word "pornographic" 
applied to the movie, The Passion.  My husband, when the Iraqi prison photos 
released, said they looked like they were making snuff films.  Is technology 
turning information into something muddier?  Is it making violence more 
acceptable, innoculating us to it?  Is it becoming a powerful vehicle for 
change?  -- 
i.e., people are outraged, the abuse in Abu Graihb will not continue....?  
Okay.  I'm going to quit blathering now and hope someone can tell me what I'm 
talking about.

Julie Krueger

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