One of the most puzzling aspects of US culture is the difference between how people react to violence and how they react to sex in the media.
Violence pops up regularly in almost every genre, even in material written specifically for children. Sex may be hinted at but unless a movie or television show is rated for mature audiences it is much less common for characters to be featured in a graphic sexual scene.
Apparently it’s ok to air story lines about people being:
- skinned alive
- blown up
Yet it is equally unacceptable to show a nipple at the same time slots.
Why is sexuality so much more frightening than violence? How can murder be less offensive than two characters having consensual sex? These aren’t rhetorical questions. The longer I live outside of the US the less I understand certain aspects of their culture.
Desensitization. Violent art and other creative works have been around for so long and have become more graphic so gradually that the average person does not necessarily think about what it is their minds are absorbing.
(some) Violence is Cartoonish. That is, it doesn’t accurately represent how an action plays out in the real world. Certain guns, for example, do far more damage to a body than what is typically portrayed on tv or the movies.
Easier Conversations. Do some parents find it easier to bring up something in conversation that most people do not personally experience than something that the vast majority of people are going to do eventually?
Moral Qualms. Religious beliefs influence so much of how and what we think about sex and sexuality. It does make sense that people would think it was wrong to see graphic representations of sex if their religious backgrounds taught them not to seek out such subject matter or that certain acts were a sin. What I don’t understand, though, is why there aren’t more religious objections to violence in the media. If it’s sinful to watch someone having what your religion considers to be illicit sex shouldn’t it be just as (if not more) wicked to see a character being raped or murdered?
Internal Conflict. Western society (especially, but not only, in the US) is deeply conflicted about sexuality and how it is expressed. What we say isn’t necessarily what we believe and what we believe often has little to do with what we actually do.
What do you think?