I’m amazed at the amount of bad, bloody behavior witnessed on television and in the movies, but I guess I’m to blame as much as anyone because I watch some of it.
We give filmmakers artistic freedom to show us a grittier lifestyle, but how artistic are the gallons of fake blood that show up on the screen.
Earlier this summer, I watched the TV series, Fargo on the FX Network, a network specializing in the grizzliest of violence.
The series was loosely based on the movie of the same name, and outdid the movie version in everything violent save the movie’s wood-chipper scene.
Next month, the final season of a series called Sons of Anarchy returns to FX. This is about a Northern California motorcycle gang with a modern take on William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The bard could never have imagined the number of people his prince would murder in the course of 10 episodes. And he’s the protagonist.
The cartoonish violence on the recent return of 24: Live Another Day was incredible, particularly for a show on one of the broadcast networks, which have tighter rules thanks to the Federal Communications Commission.
Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer character threw two characters out a fifth-floor window in one episode.
Movies are even crazier
Movies, of course, are even crazier. I recently watched Olympus Has Fallen, and if the Korean bad guys killed one Secret Service agent as they took over the White House, they killed 100.
Villainy failed to triumph, though, thanks to one man who pretty much saved the world and killed 40 or 50 bad guys himself.
People don’t just suffer violent deaths on these shows, they are murdered in all sorts of ugly and sadistic ways.
A recent staple of this type of televised violence is the throat slit. This allows for blood to pour out all over the murder scene in all its redness.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that when someone was murdered on TV (murder has always been a staple of drama), they would be stabbed, shot, or poisoned.
Throats were never slit. Usually there would be a stab from behind, and the victim would go down with all bleeding done internally.
Gunshot wounds could barely be detected on the TV victim, but we knew they were dead because their head would flop to the side. You might see one or two entry wounds, but never a trace of blood.
Poison victims would gasp with eyes agog in disbelief that they were about to die, unlike today’s more graphic victims who gurgle out some white substance from their mouth as they twitch along the floor.
I’m not a prude. I’ve watched all the shows I have listed above, but there has to be some entertainment value to balance the under-appreciation of human life.
Don’t pay the guy
People die violent deaths every day but a police officer who killed a dozen criminals over a couple of years on the job would likely be looking for another line of work, or at least a good psychiatrist, not a continuing paycheck.
There is a time and place for violence on the screen, but does it have to be so graphic?
I don’t believe we will go back to the older days of TV violence, but it might be a welcome change to return to good detective work rather than a handgun with an improbable 100 rounds of ammunition in one clip, which you need if you are going to kill 25 or 30 bad guys in one scene.
Bob Hyle covers sports and writes a weekly column for The Harrison Press. He lives in Bright.