Imagine this you wake up disoriented in a dark, damp, cold room not knowing how you got there and scared out of your mind. You scream for help only to realize your in a reticent room for a reason. You suddenly get memories flushing back when someone suddenly came from behind you and drugged you second before you passed out. What was that…..You hear the door screech open and footsteps walking toward you coming closer, but the room is too dark to see who or what it is. With you heart pulsating it seems the air suddenly is thinning as you gasp for breath trying to remain calm, but you can’t help but shake and cry not knowing what will happen next.
I gonna stop there, because that scenario seems horrifying to live through with just the glimpse of what I made visual for you. So why are we so fascinated to watch these scenarios play out on tv? What makes tv shows like Criminal Minds which is in it’s tenth season, The Following, Hannibal, Bates Motel, Dexter and other shows where criminals, psychos and the deranged run amuck so intriguing to us.
- Killers are Humanized– It’s hard to despise a psychopath when you watch a drama filled show and see their life unfolding in front of you. You might even become sympathetic to the characters who dismember and murder knowing they were abused or tortured as a child.
- Killers are Glamorized– Our culture unfortunately romanticizes serial killers too much, the Ted Bundy’s, Charles Manson, Jack Abbott all have made last impressions on society for all the wrong reasons, yet even today anyone of these individuals have cult like followings that have immortalized them.
- They put on the Charm– Suave, debonair, elegant, intelligent charismatic, cultured, meticulous and take charge. hardly the description you would think applies to a bloodthirsty, cold-blooded killer. The tv does such wonders for a killers ego huh? I just finished watching season 2 of The Following. Joe Carroll did a masterful job seducing a cult into his own meshwork agenda of anarchy and death that had his followers extol for him.
- Bad is so so Good – In society rules and order are needed for the population to function. Sometimes though the decree and all the regulations can be overwhelming and create disorderly factions. Killers and those who appreciate them disobey the rules, are not understood by regular law biding citizens. This brings an element of “cool” and popularity and we’ve all heard the saying “Good girls like bad boys”.
- Society has a hankering for blood– If you seen the movies like Gladiator, 300, Spartacus and other movies like them then society as a whole has a long history of turning someone else’s death and dismemberment into entertainment. Much like what the Romans did for “fun”, we get the same thrill from seeing the blood splatter on the walls and watching the arms getting torn off. It’s great…right?
- Killing can be Sacerdotal – Even religion sanctioned killing in so way, shape or form. Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT-…….”you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it.” “ A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortuneteller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death.” Leviticus 20:27 NAB
- Television adrenaline junkies – Long gone are the days the Alfred Hitchcock style killings where you see knife about to stab an unsuspecting woman in the shower and see the silhouette of her body being bludgeoned to death. In the constant need to exceed audience expectations of shocking cinema, it’s not enough to imagine the murder viewers wants to see the fear in the victims eyes, the blade as it lacerated that innocent woman, the sense of melancholy as a grieving loved one sees their family member lying still for the last time.
I just gave a few reasons why watching death on tv and movies has become such a big part of our entertainment in our day-to-day lives. I can’t help but think that we are becoming more and more desensitized to killing and brutality in this country. If you seen movies like The Purge and The Hunger Games and look past the prismatic outfits and the face masks of terror you can see our society heading towards these dark unfathomable futures. The question is and always has been is life intimidating art or is art intimidating life?