May 7, 2012

Posted by in Question | 17 Comments

Question – Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Violence?

A little back story about where this question comes from.  Last ‘season’, a little show aired on HBO called The Game of Thrones.  I did not watch it when it originally aired because I don’t get that channel, but I felt as though I was really missing out.  The reason behind that is while the episodes aired, twitter would fill up with updates.  And by updates, of course I mean “OMG He is do f-ing hot” and “CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED?!”  Then about a month ago, Jason came home and announced that he had the entire first season on video.  He had been told by people at work that the series is amazing and that he just had to watch it.  Well, count me in!  I was quite excited:  I was about to see what all the fuss was about.  Finally.

Well, I didn’t even last one full episode.  I know it’s HBO but the pointless boob shots were excessive and annoying.  But what bothered me the most was the very extremely graphic violence.  I found it was not necessary to depict it so gruesomely.  Really, guts literally spilling out of people and rapes and…  I can go on but I don’t wanna because it would mean I would have to think about it again.  I know the show takes place in violent times but really, why did they have to be so explicit on TV?  It just made me so uncomfortable, I walked away.

Thinking though, I often read books that are quite violent.  As violent as what they showed in Game of Thrones!  So why did it bother me so much on TV and it barely troubles me in my books?

I think the first reason was that in Game of Thrones, the bad stuff was happening to humans.  That may say odd but hear me out.  I have trouble watching the news on TV.  The stuff on there is often too much for me because it is happening for real.  My books are mostly about vampires and magicians and so on and therefore are very much not real.  So the violence in the books isn’t as bad.  But if I were to pick up a book in the ‘regular’ fiction section and it was about how Billy Joe Ordinary and his family get shot and their hearts literally ripped out of their chests…well that would be a definite dnf for me.  Because it’s too real – too much like on the news.  That is another reason why my contemporary romance reads must be a bit on the lighter side and must contain some element of humor or I will not enjoy it.  I read to escape and not to be confronted by reality.

So to recap, strong gritty gory violence in books that happen to paranormal creatures, I can handle that.  Violence against humans?  Not as much.  And violence against children I can’t do at all.  Even occurring to supernatural children, I have trouble reading about.

Now how about you?  Is there such a thing as too much violence in books for you?

  1. When I first heard about Game of Thrones and then later saw some scenes, I knew that this series would be way too brutal and graphic for me. And that’s why I’m not watching it. I don’t want to watch or read about bad, cruel things in general, watching the news is more than enough for me.

    I don’t want too much graphic violence and cruelty in both the books I read and the stuff I watch on TV. I guess that’s why I often struggle with Urban Fantasy books, for my taste there are too many in which women are raped. I’m a reader who definitely prefers happy books!

  2. I think Hank Green said something wonderful about this and also The Hunger Games. Basically that in order to get a lower age-restriction-thingie they cut out the emotions out of the fights. There was still violence, and lots of it, but most of the audiance cheered when one of the ‘bad’ guys was killed. To an extent that was certainly done on purpose, but I think it’s not just THG, but many other movies and tv-shows. Violence is used so much and with so little emotions, that it doesn’t even mean anything anymore.

  3. Allison says:

    The only violence I cannot stand is against animals, dogs especially but animals in general. I HATED the most recent Rise of the Planet of the Apes & basically cowered into my husband’s shoulder almost the entire movie. I could barely keep it together. Violence against people doesn’t bother me in the least though, never has really. But I used to read true crime books when I was a kid so maybe I just have a higher tolerance for that kind of thing?

  4. Mothermayhem says:

    Julie, I understand what you’re saying, Slate.com just ran an article about the gratuitous nudity in the series (which doesn’t faze me considering how much romantic and erotic fiction I read, I enjoy watching sex and seeing boobies on tv) . I love this show and I think you should give it a second chance. You should view it as a blogger and look at the kick ass chicks in the show (more are introduced in the second sesson). It is a complicated story and the females are dynamic and integral parts of the story. They are the ones who continue to survive when the men die, and they seem to be the only ones who really understand survival and the games going on around them. And there are also several yummy men on the show too.

  5. I think you know how I feel about this show..”love it”, but I’m constantly covering my face when the violence gets too much, my husband makes fun of me all the time, but I love the politics and the feel of the series, and I have come to love some of the characters.
    I know exactly what you mean, I know when we read we use our imaginations, and I personally don’t ever let it get that crude in my head, if almost like I unconsciously toned it down, but still feel the impact of it.
    It has always amazed me the tolerance for violence on TV and the twisted values that accept that over an explicit sex scene (even tho. this show it’s pretty crude when it comes to that)… it seems that in our society it’s OK to make War but not Love.

  6. Too much violence? What is this blasphemy.

  7. Honestly sure it was bloody but I did not mind it, what I did mind was all the sex. So I guess that is the thing for me, bloody, whatever, too much sex, no thanks.

  8. I’m like you as I had not (and still haven’t) seen any of those episodes.
    I don’t really watch news either because it depresses me. Same reason I love romance books. I like the escape. I avoid nonfiction thrillers because I want to play ignorance and not know there are meanies out there.
    I don’t really like gruesome violence in books either. I just finished Dmitri and Honor’s book, Archangel’s Blade, and wowza some gruesome there!

    I like a bit but not over the top.

  9. 1. I love the show GofT
    2. I hate the gory violence, too much all over the TV and Movies
    3. I don’t really have a problem with nudity, male or female, on TV or Movies. I have a problem with shows that make sex dirty or have violence that is unnessary to the plot.
    4. I can read both violent and sexy books easier than watching it on TV or Movies. That is as long as it doesn’t go beyond my gore threshold.

  10. I totally agree with you and some others Julie. I don’t watch or read the news as it is so very depressing. Is there no good news worth reporting? And no, I don’t mean sports.
    I almost never watch tv anymore and I read to escape. I have read the first 4 books of Game of Thrones when they were new, and I really can’t remember that there was that much sex in it. Try the books, yes, they are written by a man so much more violence and bad things happen, and I do warn you, don’t get too much attached to any character!
    I really dislike too much violence or too much sex in anything, be it a book or on tv.

  11. I agree with you Julie, I started watching the series with my sister after all the hype and praise we heard about it, but we weren’t hooked. We had to force ourselves to watch it, but after the 5th episode we stalled. I think it’s the same problem with the True Blood series as well: nonstop sex, nudity, blood and gore spilling sometimes not even warranted for the sake of the story. I don’t mind action, violence or sex, but only when it has some meaning and not just to shock the audience.

    And just like you, somehow I don’t find it as troublesome in books as in a movie, maybe because I can picture that scene a bit differently while witha film the images are there you can’t modify them.

  12. Michele says:

    Though I’ve heard many great things about Game of Thrones, I have not watched it. From what you wrote, it definitely reminds me of the Spartacus series, which I do watch. Religiously! It too has much in the way of graphic violence and gratuitous sex, but the storyline is so compelling, I simply don’t care. I often find myself shaking my head during a particularly bloody scene, asking myself why they feel its necessary to add such things, but it doesn’t stop me from watching nor does it stop me from dying to know what will happen in the next episode.

    As far as your inquiry, is there there such a thing as too much violence…I don’t know if its a question of too much, or the type. I can have a marathon of Spartacus, episode after episode of blood & guts, but I can not stomach violence in any way, shape or form against a child. Even the hint of it I find revolting. There was a movie I watched a couple of years ago…in it the protagonist’s wife & daughter were slaughtered. The flashbacks were chilling & while the movie may have been a pretty decent flick in the sense of storyline/acting, I could not shake the idea of what was done to his daughter & it left a pall over the entire film & its the only thing about the film that I can remember. Not the name of the actor (it was a pretty big name actor), not what happened to him in the course of the film, not how it ended…just what happened to his daughter. Creeps me out!

  13. Sabrina – Yeah…if you have trouble with violence in your books, definitely don’t do UF. lol

    Patricia – I have never noticed the ‘less emotion’ thing but now that that I think about it, that is so right. Scary really. Isn’t that going to teach kids (and grown-ups) that it’s okay to hurt someone as long as you don’t feel too much? And then we worry about bullies. Odd…

    Allison – Animal violence is bad and yes, unnecessary.

    Mothermayham – Jason has kept me posted and it never occurred to me that it IS the women who survive while the men die. Interesting…

    Lupdilup – OMG How Right Are You?! Our imaginations will only let it get as violent as we want it. Even if the words describe super gory it don’t mean that our imaginations will picture it that way. How clever are you?

    Bastard – *g*

    blodeuedd – Interesting that the sex would bother you. Well, it’s probably because it was obviously put there to lure viewers and not to advance the story.

    Michelle – Yeah…the Guild Hunter books are pretty graphic. lol

    Dot – ‘Gore threshold’. I like that.

    Aurian – “And no, I don’t mean sports.” LOL

    Stella – True Blood is another show I just couldn’t get into 🙁

    Michele – The type of violence… That makes a lot of sense. And, as you said, to whom it’s inflicted. Totally agree with you there.

  14. Jessica says:

    Oh whow – I’ve been putting off responding to this one, because I had to put some thought into my answer. In general, I think I have a pretty high tolerance for violence. So high, I honestly hadn’t even noticed Game of Thrones was violent. 😮 I blame years of movies and television. But there are definitely things that push my limits, and I had to mentally review the books, movies, and tv shows where the violence bothered me. On one the violence in Braveheart, Sin City, and even Kill Bill did not bother me in the slightest. These were all shows that pushed the limits on violence in their times. Then we have Hostel, Natural Born Killers, and the Hills have Eyes where I had a powerful, visceral reaction to the violence. I actually cried leaving the theater after Hostel.

    So what makes my reaction to these movies different? I think I need violence to have a purpose – either an action that happens to the protagonist that drives them forward, or a reaction to something that happened to them – something bad that drives them to retaliate in either defense or retribution. Think about it – in Braveheart and Kill Bill most of the violence comes as a direct result of the protagonist seeking vengeance for the terrible wrongs they suffered. Sin City is a mix of vengeance and vigilante justice. I can empathize with these motivations and understand the need for the violence – I can even cheer for it. I’d like to think I’d have the strength to unleash holy hell on anyone that hurt someone I loved.

    However, when the violence is senseless, and serves no purpose, I have a harder time with it. In Hostel, kids are kidnapped and imprisoned and wealthy men pay for the privilege of brutally torturing them to death. I couldn’t understand or empathize with this on any level. Why would wealthy men want to hurt people like that? Why would a business exist to facilitate such a sick need? I MIGHT have been ok with this brutality if it had driven the main characters forward – forced them to stand up and take down the evil business. But Hostel didn’t even throw viewers that bone. The protagonists died, the bad guys got away with it. It was terrible. Senseless. And the Hills have Eyes and Natural Born Killers shared that theme of senseless violence. I pride myself in being able to empathize with just about anyone, but I can’t understand what would drive a person to commit such terrible acts of violence against another for no real reason. I guess I just don’t want to believe there could really be people like that out there in the world. That terrible. People that would kill just for the fun of it.

    Hopefully that makes sense. I wish you’d give Game of Thrones another shot too, Julie. It’s such an amazing show and based on even better books. I think you’d love it if you could get past the violent elements.

    – Jessica / Mithrendiel

  15. Mothermayhem says:

    Well said Jessica. Thanks for sharing. It made my day to read your well articulated thoughtful response. It’s funny, I’ve become so desensitized to thougthfulness and well articulated sentences by all the terrible grammar, nonsensical abbreviations, and meaningless statements on the posts I read on social media any given day that your words were like lemonade on a hot summer day.

  16. Jessica – Amazing answer! And I don’t think I ever want to watch that Hosel movie. lol

    Mothermayhem – You are so right! Jessica writes her answers so eloquently. Better than my posts! lol

  17. Violence is general does not bother me, and I can handle reading it in books because I can choose not to visualize it. Just today, my father and I bought the first season of Game of Thrones because we heard it was so good and we sat down together as soon as we got home to watch it. I too, walked away in the first episode.

    I agree I don’t understand why these channels and these shows in these times MUST have all the breast shots, I mean a few here and there? Sure. OVER 10 different pairs of breasts in one episode? @_@… As for the violence, as I said before in general I do not mind it, but it’s the gore. The guts spilling out, the blood spurting, the limbs everywhere… I can’t handle that. Doesn’t matter who or what the gore is coming from, I just can’t stand it.

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