Once Upon A Wolvog

Stories from the front lines

Desensitization

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A few decades ago, two actors in a TV show couldn’t share a bed because it was considered too racy for public television, whereas nowadays, it’s safe to say the rules have changed a bit. We’ve gone from TV censors having to bring the hammer down on renegade producers who decided to put two fully clothed human beings under the same bed sheet to having the classic suburban family share a blanket and settle down with a plate of veggies and tzatziki (and maybe a bag of low salt, brand-less potato chips for the kids on a special occasion) to watch a zombie have it’s head relocated by means of a blade or blunt object. This dramatic shift is made extremely apparent by Atwood in Oryx and Crake, particularly the scenes in which Jimmy and Crake enjoy a night of watching beheadings and child pornography, as one does in their free time.

What takes everyone aback is that it is made so readily available to the viewing public in this fictional world either on television or the internet and the fact that Jimmy and Crake seem to enjoy it in the same way that you or I would enjoy a Jackass movie- the whole movie is violent and crude, but some of the things you see in the movie pale in comparison to some of the more dangerous scenes in terms of how we react to them. Some of the more violent and grotesque scenes make the other, more mildly disturbing scenes seem as though they’re child’s play, so to speak.

For the record they’re in a shopping cart going down hill at about a 25 – 30 degree angle and being shot at by cannons loaded with bricks. Can you tell me with 100% honesty that you don’t want to see how that ends? Well I did, and it was amazing.

My point is that we as a society have become so desensitized to things that would have abhorred those born only a generation or two before us by the television and movie producers that continue to push the boundaries of what they can put on screen but the thing is, we encourage it because we enjoy it. We’ve all heard the analogy “It’s like a train wreck, it’s awful but you can’t look away”. Something animalistic within us allows us to enjoy a level of violence and taboo that would be considered awful under normal circumstances. The more we, as a society, satisfy this craving for the most appalling thing we can endure, the more a mature subject matter of a lesser degree becomes normalized.

Some food for thought: Think of something that used to make your stomach turn when you were a child like extreme violence or sex, and compare it to what you think about it now. If you’ve watched and thoroughly enjoyed The Walking Dead and/or 50 Shades of Grey , you’ve already got your answer.

Sources: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/subcultures/jackass

 

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3 thoughts on “Desensitization

  1. Do you think that this desensitization is a bad thing, or a good thing? In some circumstances, it can be considered good, like with the example you gave of what was considered racy many years ago compared to now, because perhaps we shouldn’t be afraid of or abhor certain content, whether it is expressed on television or another medium. In that way, it’s good if caused by desensitization, as it has opened up a much more acceptable expression of art (even Jackass can be considered art in a way). However, when does this begin to approach objectively inappropriate, if such a thing is possible? We can say with certainty that things like executions and child pornography are wrong on many levels, but it’s interesting to think of where the line between acceptable and unacceptable lies, and who gets to decide that.

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  2. This is so true!! It is crazy how much things can change in such a short period of time. women are also being much more sexualized. I remember watching a pussycat doll music video and thinking it was so risqué. If we were to look at the same video today, most of us would be laughing at the thought that that was sexy at the time. Today girls in videos have to be naked for it to be sexy enough. I think it is a bad thing to normalize things that should still affect us when we see it. I’ve also noticed that my 8 year old cousin knows more swear words than I did when I was 14. I feel like it is so hard today to keep a child innocent and hide all the explicitness in our world. There are so many ways kids can be exposed to things with the internet, tv, ipad, games…etc it is hard for them to grow up not feeling like everything they’re constantly exposed to has been desensitized…

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  3. Cool post! In my second semester, I took a cinema class where we studied all types of different films and one of the films that we saw was the film psycho. One thing that teacher told us about the film was that it was the first film to ever show a female with a bra on while on television (The film was released in 1960 btw). Nowadays I think I see a woman in just their underwear every single day! Either it’s on an ad on your phone or a street sign in the middle of downtown, you see it everywhere!

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