GORE AND GUTS ON TV – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My husband is a sweet and gentle man. He is not aggressive and doesn’t have a violent bone in his body. Yet he spends hours a day watching violence on TV, in movies and actively participating in it with video games. What is going on? His appetite for onscreen blood and gore is unfathomable and unsettling to me.

He says that it’s all make believe, that none of it is real. But my problem is that to me, it’s all way too realistic. I have no tolerance whatsoever for any kind of on screen blood and guts. I can’t even watch realistic operating room scenes on my TV medical shows. The sight of someone getting an injection makes me cringe, let alone someone being sliced and diced, even by a pretend doctor. I am a total wuss.

I may have become more sensitive as I get older. Or maybe it’s just that the entertainment industry has taken onscreen violence to another level. It’s more extreme and more gruesome these days. It’s also more graphic and much more realistic looking.

Onscreen violence used to be more suggested and less in your face. When someone got shot or hit on the head, they just fell down and maybe bled a little. Now, wounds are gaping, flesh is torn, internal organs are everywhere and blood is all over everything.

I can’t handle it. I could deal with pretending that someone’s hand was cut off. But in a recent episode of my favorite show, “Outlander”, the cutting off of the hand looked so real I almost lost my dinner. This is true everywhere in the mainstream now, not just on the military, underworld, superhero or shoot ‘em up shows.

There is so much fighting and brutality on TV and in movies. People seem to be more inhuman to each other, and also more creative in their violence. Torture is portrayed, again realistically, all the time. People don’t just shoot each other or stab each other, they use more inventive and sicker ways to inflict pain and suffering.

The world is portrayed these days as a much more brutal place. Man’s inhumanity to man is front and center and perverse sadists are everywhere you look. Many shows are very dark. They are dark in theme as well as lighting. I can tolerate some, like “The Blacklist” and “Blindspot”. But some, like “Gotham” are over the line for me. They portray the underside of life, the worst of the worst. The public’s appetite for darkness, crime and just plain meanness seems boundless.

Close to half the shows my husband watches on TV, he has to watch without me. I can’t stomach them. If I did try to watch them, I think I’d be depressed and anxious all the time. I know there is horrible stuff going on out there. But I can’t focus on it or wallow in it. I can’t even bear to read stories about cruelty to animals or children. If I think about it, I become obsessed with awful images and I literally feel sick.

I need to spend most of my time dealing with the normal and the positive. I get enough angst from reading and watching the news. I don’t need to add to that by watching sadism and butchery as entertainment. There is enough crazy and destructive going on in the government, I don’t need to watch pretend craziness and destruction on television in my down time.

Please let me keep some of my illusions about people having common sense and caring about each other. If I can’t keep some of these fantasies alive, I don’t think I’ll ever make it out of bed.

13 thoughts on “GORE AND GUTS ON TV – BY ELLIN CURLEY

  1. And this is why we don’t watch a lot of the popular shows on Netflix, et al. They are all so dark, so mean, so ugly. Maybe that’s the way it is or was, but I don’t want to go there. TV is supposed to be entertainment. Somewhere, I swear they’ve forgotten about that part. Maybe it’s all about “truth,” but I can’t handle that stuff either. We’ve stopped watching a lot of shows that simply went over the top on violence and general brutality — “The Blacklist” being one of them. We really liked the show for quite a while, but it got to me, then finally, it got to Garry too. Another one bites the dust.

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    • We loved “Blacklist” too for a few seasons. Then it got too confusing and abstruse and even more dark than usual. So we stopped watching it too.

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  2. We’ve come full circle – and now we’re way over the top. I’ve been covering some movies from the Pre-Code era. There wasn’t violence and gore like today – but lots of nudity – burlesque style stuff. Then the prudish establishment stepped in and shut everything down. We were so sanitized for years that we the joke of the planet. Now we’re going to the other extreme. Did you see Loga? A little girl chops a guys head – then just casually tosses it out on the ground. We’re talking about mainstream popular media here folks. TV? Gorewize, there is nothing you can’t see on TV these days – although outright porn isn’t quite mainstream. Yet. Or is it?. I really have to avert my gaze at times – it’s so graphic. Heads exploding – arms and legs being lopped off. It’s incredible. Everybody seems to be pushing the envelope. I guess this is what people want to see??? So they think. Is it? Have we really become this desensitized? I guess so. Not to mention the swearing and vile dialogue.Video games?? even worse. And I dare you walk into any comic book store. You’d wonder what kind of place you’re in.
    I can only hope that where people are placing their attention is not what they are going to become. Or we’re in real trouble.

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    • You’ve obviously seen and felt the increase in graphic gore on TV and in the movies. I have to cover my head through half the show. I just can’t watch. I am also concerned, like you, that this level of violence and brutality will become normal and acceptable to most people. Will there come a time when a mass shooting is just another bad day? We just saw something like that on TV last night. Ho Hum!

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  3. I can’t watch that stuff either, Most of the shows mentioned are not here yet but I would not even try to watch them. I couldn’t watch a lot of the shows that my husband liked. I enjoyed the puzzle solving aspect of CSI but I didn’t want to see all the gory medical bits. I don’t need to see all this violence on TV .if I want violence and cruelty I can watch the news, there is always some going on somewhere.

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    • You”re right. there’s enough brutality and inhumanity in the news. We really don’t need it in our entertainment portion of the day. Some say that the violence is cathartic and releases anger and frustrations. Tom says that shooting people and other creatures in video games has that effect. I’m not sure about passively watching it on a screen. If it did have that effect, violent crimes of passion should be way down but they’re not.

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  4. The reason I stopped going to any movies, decades ago. It’s just way too much. and since most TV shows are now living color and realisitic, that’s out there, as well. Even as a child I hated the Tom and Jerry cartoons, with the cat boinging against a wall and deforming itself. Everyone laughed, I just cringed.
    My first TV “reality” death was on “Terry and the Pirates” and a young busty woman had been shot. right through her sweater. It left a teeny hole. So much for gore and grue. And my first movie theater event was “Dial M for Murder” where the victim gets stabbed with a pair of scissors (euwwww) and then falls over backwards ONTO them. color me in the lobby by that time.

    I think it’s unnecessary, and it’s disturbing that some people truly do get off on that, and for them “it’s only ketchup” doesn’t equate at all. For them, it’s real and they love it. That’s the scary part.

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    • Good point about the cartoons. I cringed watching the cartoon violence as well. Men seem to think it’s hilarious. But I just saw a safe way to show violence and brutality. It clearly wasn’t real and didn’t do real harm, but the intent and the actions were there. The wink wink aspect of it made me even more uncomfortable. At least in gory TV shows, they are being honest about what they’re doing. I wonder how many women actually enjoy this new level of reality in entertainment.

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    • Something is very wrong in a society that gets all up in arms about nudity and sex but thrives on realistic blood and gore in your face 24/7! America has always been way more prudish than the rest of the civilized world. Our congress is still obsessed with meddling in people’s sexual and reproductive lives but won’t ban assault rifles for the mentally ill! Dont get me started!
      And P.S. – the pictures were really hard for me to look for and post!

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        • I wish I could change the world. I’ve had enough trouble over the years just changing my life and the people in it. Reading the news every day is so infuriating and depressing. I’m beginning to wonder if I will live to see my values dominate in my country again. I keep thinking that it can’t go on like this for much longer, but the stupid and the evil is strong here. We may have to wait for the older generations to die off and the younger, more tolerant and diverse people to become the majority.

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