The Falcon | Volume 83, Issue 52
Published 5/22/13 | Log In
Violence in the media has latent, lasting effects on us
By BILL BERRY, Staff Reporter
Published: February 27, 2013
Christianity is rooted in non-violence. The call to denounce violence is explicitly stated in the Gospels. It is also implicitly stated by the actions of Jesus, who never fought back against the people who killed him.
Regardless of all this, Christians love violence in the media. Why, then, is violence such an acceptable part of Christian culture?
With such a call to non-violent response, Christians should question how the some of the senseless violence in the media they consume affects them.
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus gives two lessons on violence. Matthew 5:39 reads, “… do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” Jesus is calling his disciples to act in love rather than violence.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:44, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The weight of this teaching grows considering the violence the early Church was facing when the Gospels were written. Rather than fight back against someone who hurts you, Christians are called to a loving response.
Yet, many would argue that violence in the media is very different than violence in real life. Violence in the media is disconnected and staged. And, since it isn’t real, this violence does not go against what the Gospels tell us about violence.
While I would agree that media violence and real violence are very different, I would still argue that what we watch effects how we think. There is a correlation between what we watch, the satisfaction we get from it and what we desire.
There is a reason that headshots give more points in video games. There is a reason why watching somebody’s throat get shot out in a movie is so cool. It’s because we love it, and we want to see it. Violence is entertaining. It channels some sort of animal-like part of us. We lust over blood. We see the passion and energy channeled through the actions and put ourselves in their spot.
As we do this, however, we warp our sense of the weight of violence. We take something that would repulse us in real life and consume it, so long as it isn’t “real.”
I am not trying to say that all media violence is inherently evil. Violence can serve a purpose in film to support an overall point. But, regardless of the purpose of violence in the media, we should still be careful of how it affects us. Some of the violence we consume reflects situations that happen daily.
If our first response is to get satisfaction out of virtual violence, what will happen if we encounter the same type of violence in real life?
As Christians, we need to be conditioned and prepared to act justly, as Jesus did. We need to learn to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. If we continue to ingest media that teaches revenge is the same as justice and to hate our enemies, then we could become conditioned to that response. If we don’t think twice about what we watch or play, then we could lose ourselves.