Veganism, as it was originally intended to be, is dead.
Maybe it never existed in the first place.

Post-veganism is a reflection about what it means to be a vegan,
now that the word has completely lost its meaning in the dominant culture.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Does Getting off on Fake Violence Make us Ignore Real Violence?

As I sit in my cold basement the volume of my music is at max to drown out the screams and moans from the computer upstairs. No my family is not watching a snuff film (they could have fooled me), supposedly they're watching that new hit vampire tv show True Blood. This is not the first time that I've pondered over how we link sex and violence in our entertainment, or even the ramifications of what that kind of entertainment might lead to. Even more problematic, does our love of fake violence make it easy for us to ignore real violence? I imagine that question isn't new, but maybe it is when we apply it to veganism. If most murderers are attractive, if a scream is only the beginning of a moan, and if we live in a world where death is temporary because everyone is acting why should it matter when animals die?

There are so many things that just strike me as unnerving when it comes to the social trend of loving violence that I probably won't get to them all, and the few I get to won't be written about very eloquently because I still can't understand why anyone would find pain entertaining. It's not some new sensation that's hit us after Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Twilight though. My first memories of enjoying pain come as a child when I learned from America's Funniest Home Videos that when someone gets hurt I can laugh. Many of the clips featured on that show are not small scrapes or bruises. The people involved are in situations where they can break bones and die. Heck, when it comes to the treatment of fish on that show the actors do die, but as long as their corpses are used to make funny noises it's not really tragic. Or at least that's the message the producers are trying to convey.

That brings us to mindless entertainment, because to watch America's Home Videos you literally need to turn your brain off. There is nothing educational about it, other than don't be an idiot. If you are an idiot, bring a camera and you could win thousands of dollars for showing the world how stupid you are.

It's not just television shows of course. Think of the Saw franchise, or even the Human Centipede. If you don't know what I'm talking about I advise you don't look it up. I'm still cringing from just reading the wiki. This is not a dare (and if you take it as one maybe you're one of those people I'm writing about who have been taught violence equals pleasure). There is no happy ending. It's two hours of no laughter. What in there makes us as humans feel good watching it? The only thing I can think of is that we relate to the sadist driving others through pain and torture, but it's not a thought I'd really like to pursue. If we can identify with them, maybe we are too far gone to care about anything. Then eating animals would make sense. I'm afraid though it's more of a subconscious identification, or maybe an even thank god it isn't me kind of thrill. Which might explain why we ignore the suffering an animal goes through to be used for our food and privileged lifestyle.

On a popular forum for teenagers I went to the movie section and asked a serious question. I asked why people will watch horror films like Saw but they won't watch Earthlings. If you don't know what Earthlings is it's a film that perfectly shows the viewer how animals are used as pets, for food, clothing, testing and entertainment. If you use animals for any of those things you have an obligation to watch it and see what you're spending your money on, otherwise don't bother and save yourself the nightmares. For some reason the easiest way to get someone to watch it is to say it is the most horrible thing I have ever seen (or ever not seen, I haven't seen the whole film and don't plan to). I think that sentence alone could fill more than just one blog post. I only got one answer back, from someone who had never seen it but watched it because I mentioned it (it's free online!). They replied that it was made as a documentary, to tell the truth and was thus not entertaining. Horror films are made to be entertaining. I suppose that's true in some way, but how are they entertaining? What about them screams yes I must watch this because I'll feel good after? 

Maybe I won't ever understand because I like my romantic comedies (I wish they were less homophobic and less white only though!). Maybe I'll write another blog when I have more questions. At any rate, I think there is something about fake violence that gets in the way of our acceptance of real violence. We are encouraged to be complacent observers who don't get involved, ignoring that our money is fueling these movies and real violence elsewhere. Are we encouraged to be reckless and free without being either?

I just have to wonder if Earthlings was playing nation wide at all the theaters who would go and what excuse would people have for not going. It's just some of that violence we get off on after all.

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