I want to start off by stating that I do not believe people should be stopped from their right of freedom to create, distribute, view or support any content that did not physically harm or violate others. I believe that others are free to make their own choices, what ever those choices may be. Though I may not agree with a certain perspective, rather than attempt to prohibit others in regards to this subject, I rather offer an alternative option. And yes, if you were wondering, this article is about violent (and peaceful) media content.
Log into a movie service (or walk into a movie store that still exists), log into a video game service or walk into a video game store and you may find that A LOT of the content is violent. You may find that most blockbuster movies and most video games are of a violent nature. The content may range from cartoon characters beating each other up in a comical fashion all the way to things that seem of a much darker, even more twisted nature that I rather not describe in detail. Violence seems to be in so much of the available content which is directed towards adults, teenagers and even young children.
But, I haven’t yet given the context of any of this violence. Why are people betrayed as being violent in so much media? Well, the reasons may vary, as sometimes it may be a recreation of a historical event such as a particular war, sometimes it may actually be used to show contrast during a character’s personal development (American History X comes to mind) and sometimes, and quite often it may be used to portray a commonly used narrative… the narrative being:
“It is okay to be violent if it is for peace or if it is towards someone or something evil.”
Let’s explore this idea; explore this narrative. First, the idea of it being okay to be violent if it is for peace. This idea may seem common in a variety of media, often containing characters such as ‘super heroes’, cartoon characters or anyone fighting off some kind of perceived threat. The characters may often be given the title of being some kind of hero and are often glorified in some way or another.
But, does being violent for peace really make sense? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Peace includes the absence of violence. If one truly believes in the power of peace, can one truly believe in the power of violence simultaneously? What messages may this narrative hold? Perhaps:
- “Violence is the solution to violence.”
- “Violence is the solution to danger.”
- “Violence is how to solve issues.”
Because if this narrative was truly aligned with:
- “Peace is the solution to violence.”
- “Peace is the solution to danger.”
- “Peace is how to solve issues”
then why would the protagonists portrayed in these various media formats be choosing violence instead of peace? If we are suggesting violence as a solution to issues, if even through fictional characters, what are we saying about peace?
What about social innovation? What about creative, positive solutions? What about non-violent solutions? Where do these fit into such a narrative in a “violence is the solution” narrative?
What about the narrative that “It’s okay to be violent if someone or something is evil.”? Well, what is evil? How extreme does a person have to be to be considered evil? Does being insane make someone evil? If we consider them insane does that give more reason to be compassionate? If someone or something negative is more capable of carrying out negative acts, does that make them more evil then someone with negative intentions who does not seem to possess the skills to carry out the same acts?
Does the narrative “It’s okay to be violent towards someone or something evil.” fit in possible non-violent solutions? Diplomacy? Compassion and understanding? Are those often portrayed as evil truly evil, or are they perhaps scared and suffering mentally and emotionally? Is there experience and understanding perhaps limited (American History X comes to mind again as a great example)? This isn’t to condone any negative and destructive behavior, but does being scared or being ignorant really make someone evil?
From the narrative, “It is okay to be violent if it is for peace or if it is towards someone or something evil.”, how much consideration is being given to compassion? To peace? To love? To understanding? To creativity? To possibility? And how much of this narrative is driven by fear? Who isn’t scared in this narrative? Who wouldn’t truly choose peace who wasn’t driven by fear of a particular outcome? What does the narrative speak to about dealing with fear?
What do we want to convey with the art and media we create? What do we want to say about fear? About peace? About love? About creativity? About dealing with challenge? About choice?
Even though there may be lots of media that fits the narrative that “It’s okay to be violent if someone or something is evil.”, not all of it does. There are many games and movies that don’t seem to fit this narrative at all. What if we choose to align alongside other trailblazers? What if we build a narrative that supports and teaches compassion, peace, love, care, understanding, innovation, creativity and the courage to overcome fear within, rather than always trying to destroy that outside of us that evokes those fears?
This is in part why I created Positive Vis Dev. I’d like to help bring visual development to projects of this alternative, positive and courageous narrative. As others have provided examples of other possible, positive choices for me to make in my own life, I am interested in working with others to do the same.
Founder & Director Of Operations, Positive Vis Dev
Joshua J. Townsend