Even more important, are you beginning to suspect that all this exposure to violence and killing is not really good for us…either as individuals or as a society?
I know the argument—“it’s just a harmless form of entertainment and titillation.” But is it really? Could it be more damaging than we give it credit for? Could it be negatively affecting our psyches or even our physical health?
Why I Stopped Following “The Following”
I must admit, I’ve been a fan of many movies and TV shows over the years that have been built around violence. Every once in a while, however, I get taken aback by how creepy and how incredibly violent some of the villains are, like several of the terrorists portrayed in the Die Hard movie series.
On more than one occasion, I’ve walked out of a theater thinking to myself “did they really have to make that “bad guy” character so incredibly vile and pathological? Are these really the type of memorable images we want floating around in our heads?”
I also must admit I am a big fan of Kevin Bacon. I loved watching him in movies such as Footloose, Wild Thing, A Few Good Men, Apollo 13, and Mystic River.
So when I recently learned that Mr. Bacon was staring in a new TV series on Fox, called “The Following,” I set my DVR to record it every week, even though it was billed as being about a serial killer.
I watched the premier episode of the series, in mid-January, along with about 10 million other viewers. The plot was a twist that I hadn’t seen before—a diabolical serial killer creates a cult of twisted, loyal followers who continue to do his killing for him while he’s locked away in prison.
I also watched the next few episodes, and in each of these, the violence and sickness got a little stronger. Then, I watched the episode broadcast on Monday, February 4th, and midway through it, I had to turn it off. The writers and producers finally crossed a line for me, and I promptly decided to delete the series from my DVR scheduler.
Too Much Joy About Killing
The reason I stopped watching “The Following” was because I thought it went too far. Not because I was squeamish about any of the violent scenes, but more because I was literally appalled at how much enjoyment was being portrayed as the cult members committed their heinous deeds.
This particular episode on February 4th opened with a cult member calmly pouring gasoline on a book critic and then lighting him on fire as the critic stood on a street in public at a hot dog stand.
Then, a few minutes later, another cult member, who had been wounded and captured, was being interviewed in a hospital. He had previously conned his way into a college sorority house and killed several of the female coeds. The writers made a point of having him explain just how great he felt about committing those horrible murders—how much joy it gave him. And from a pure acting standpoint, he did a pretty good job of making his joy believable.
Then, just a few minutes later, a cult member strolls into a college professor’s office and engages him in a conversation about why he criticized one of the cult leader’s published books. In the middle of the conversation, he suddenly pulls out a knife and stabs the professor in the abdomen. The professor looks stunned, and then the cult member stabs him several more times. We learned earlier in the series that this particular cult member had never been able to kill anyone with a knife before, so I suppose we were to feel happy for him that he had pushed through his barriers to accomplish personal breakthrough!
My Breaking Point
That was just too much for me. This collection of despicable broadcast moments, occurring amid the backdrop of all the other senseless killings that had happened in earlier episodes, made me conclude that even though I love Kevin Bacon, I could not endure any more of this shameless drivel.
What in the world have we, as a society, come to? What is it that makes TV producers and movie writers think that watching these types of programs is what we SHOULD be doing. I know that sex and violence “sell,” but my gosh, at a certain point don’t we have to ask ourselves “are we taking this just a bit too far?”
I think the answer to this question is a definite “YES” and I also think this trend is not really good for us.
In my next two posts this week, I will expand upon why I feel this way.
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