My husband came home the other day with a DVD of an epic fantasy TV show that one of his work mates said was terrific, his favourite show. We watched it. I found it extraordinarily brutal and sexist, and I wondered about this guy. If you enjoy entertainment that is brutal and sexist, what does that say about you? What about those who enjoy brutal and sexist entertainment without even realising that it is so? The answer is a little frightening when you watch a TV show that is supposed to be popular. Popular means that a lot of people enjoy it.
How can you enjoy watching men slaughtered for the fun of it? Not in self-defence, or even in war, and not in a context of crime where the murder is clearly illegal and immoral, but in a society where no wedding is complete without at least three deaths!
How can you enjoy watching women treated as fucking machines, as nothing more than a handy receptacle for a man’s erection? My guess is that you’d have to be either male or a woman with little self-respect. What about incest? Not just hinted at, but shown in the act, from behind and every bit as bestial as the rest of the sex in the show. Wouldn’t it have been more powerful to show a little tenderness in the relationship, or to at least have made it different in style to the other sex scenes?
I am not a prude. I enjoy a little romance, even the occasional erotica—so long as it’s well done—and I prefer sex in my movies than violence. I’m not against the topic of incest in a novel or film, but I can’t abide violence and denigration in the sex act. Consensual sex games is another matter, but then we’re talking about pornography or, if it’s sensitively portrayed, erotica.
I don’t dismiss rape as a taboo subject never to be dealt with in literature. It is a problem that must be tackled and film and literature can have a powerful voice against it, but no one should see it graphically, and if it is glorified and presented as a perfectly acceptable thing, then the writer is being socially and morally inappropriate.
I strongly believe that artists should be aware of the power their work has to affect audience’s behaviour and so be socially responsible in their publications. To dismiss the representation of harmful behaviour as pure entertainment is to contribute to the proliferation of such behaviour in society.
If you show someone a movie where someone makes a bomb, then the audience knows how to make a bomb. If you show someone abusing a women, then the audience knows how to do exactly that, and if it is set in a society where such behaviour is acceptable, the abuse is presented as just fine and dandy.
You can protest that a show set in medieval times must have such things because that is how it was, but you do not need to show them. Neither can you convince me that there was no love in such times, surely modern writers and film-makers have an obligation to at least balance out graphic indications of sexism with equally graphic indications of a healthier kind of relationship between men and women.
This show, (I never memorised the name, so don’t ask me) though not on Australian television, thankfully, was shown in the US on television, a media where anyone can watch it, and if the person who told my husband that it was a great show was correct, many do. No wonder Western society is so sick.
Every time you watch or pay to see this kind of stuff, you are helping it proliferate in our society. If you don’t care, you should. If you don’t believe that it has an effect, read the third paragraph up from here again and study the educational research that shows that children learn from what they are presented with. It is obvious, actually.
I’m not calling for censorship, I’m calling for responsibility in writers, producers, filmmakers, TV programmers and audiences.
How do you feel about all this?