I’ve written numerous posts criticizing intensely violent, sadistic movies that depict torture, dismemberment and other horrors. It’s a fairly lonely task for several reasons:
1. We live in a climate of extreme Do-Your-Own-Thingism. As sociologist Alan Wolfe noted a few years ago in his book One Nation, After All , the great majority of Americans don’t feel comfortable criticizing anyone for any kind of “lifestyle choice” on anything. We’re a live-and-let-live (or, in this case, live-and-let-bleed) culture.
2. On top of that, many Baby Boomer types don’t want to speak out against the extreme barbarism of some movies, or the sleazification of TV (even in the 7 PM time slot) or misogynist rap lyrics because it’s not cool. The most important thing for many Boomers is to seem forever young and with it, meaning they cannot set themselves against the people who have created and gotten rich from the scummification of culture. I mean, man, it seems like something our parents would have done, you know, getting all upset over The Stones and “Easy Rider.” Never mind that the thug-rap music, violent video games and “gorno” movies of today are several orders of magnitude worse than anything they ever dreamed up at Woodstock.
3. That explains why many secular people say nothing as the culture slides into the gutter. As for many religious people, they have simply removed themselves from the whole Britney/Rappah XXX/Hostel II side of American entertainment. They don’t speak out against it because they almost never encounter it. They have their own movies, their own cable TV channels, their own bookstores, their own schools where nobody is allowed to wear a “F-You I’m From Texas” t-shirt in Algebra class.
So, if you remove the Ultra-Tolerant/Indifferent, the eternally young and vain Baby Boomers, and the religious people who see us as Sodom and Gomorrah, you don’t have a lot of culture critics left. It’s hard to even find the language or the moral categories for the discussion, because anyone who dares criticize gets branded an Ayatollah or a Church Lady. That’s too bad.
Meanwhile, here’s a story that didn’t get much national play. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger is on the clean-culture beat these days, fighting for a California law that would ban young children from buying video games like “Grand Theft Auto” in which–hey, here’s some fun–players pick up prostitutes and kill them for laughs. Of course, Arnold himself used to get flak for some of his movies, but. . . Anyway, here is the story.