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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

Our Cycle of Violence

Robert Manni - Thursday, March 07, 2013


Now showing: “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”. Really.

My blog posts focus on life, love and the pursuit of happiness. Last year I focused on interpersonal relationships and a better understanding between men and women. I will continue with these posts because I believe that we need to come together one person and one relationship at a time. But, today I am taking a time out to talk about life and our pursuit of happiness.

With so much discussion focusing on the horrific school and movie-theater shootings and calls for gun laws revisions, its troubling that our pop culture is going out of its way to feed the violent beast within our collective consciousness. I’m not sure what to do about gun laws, but obviously they aren’t working. The rub is that history (albeit prior to the availability of automatic weapons) warns us about the risks of disarming the people and the value of the second-amendment. This Guy’s Guy does not own a gun. I’m not a hunter, I don’t shoot skeet or targets, and I sincerely hope that I will not attract a situation where I need a gun to protect my family. That said, I believe in the second amendment—within reason. Nowadays, it’s very easy to buy heavy-duty arms, especially since the assault rifle ban was lifted in 2004. I don’t have a perfect solution for registering and monitoring the physical arms many feel a need to carry. But, I do have some thoughts about the Gatling gun of violent images that spews our way in the news and in our choices of entertainment starting at a very young age.

Are we desensitized to violence in America?

As I walked past a series of movies posters upon exiting the C train yesterday, it struck me how many new films feature violence to attract interest. Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is clearly an amped up twist on the fairy tale. I’m sure took its lead from last year’s successful, Snow White and the Huntsman which was quite the gore-fest. The poster for Ah-nolds’ return to the screen, The Last Stand, features the recent governor blasting away with a gigantic automatic weapon.  Django Unchained?  Tarentino is a brilliant auteur, but his films are usually built on stories about violent retribution.  The five top-grossing films of 2012—Marvel’s The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, Skyfall, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part Two all had buckets of blood spilling from beginning to end. Make no mistake; these are all stories well told, but they all overflow with death, blood, and retribution. Me? I liked Silver Linings Playbook and The Intouchables, great, non-violent films that served up positive messages without sanctimony. Yet, these films are having challenges finding their audience.

Do I need to mention video games?

Whether you like to play or have a kid that plays video games, you have to admit that a majority of top-sellers center on killing opponents. What also bugs me about video games is that they are predominantly built on reacting, not thinking. I see so many people playing these games on the subway, mesmerized by their screens. I’m a certified advanced clinical master hypnotist and this is hypnotism. This Guy’s Guy is glad to have grown up before the advent of today’s video games.  My mom pushed my out the back door at 9am and only called me in for lunch or when it got dark outside. I rode my bike, played sports, built tree houses, played games like Stratego, chess, and backgammon, and most importantly read tons of books. I’m glad I grew up then, but then again, we live in the now.  So what can we do?

It’s all connected. Use your judgment and consume in moderation.

Even if my generation didn't grow up with video games or ultra-violent films, a lot of us made fortunes from selling them so we’re no better. I suggest the best tonic for living in an aggressive society that feeds and thrives on violence is to be circumspect about the amount of media we consume. At times, the news broadcasts are automatic weapons spurting skewed reporting, violence, and fear to attract and maintain their audiences. It’s a form of storytelling. And storytelling is about conflict, people. No one tunes into the news when everything is just peachy. It needs friction, and baby; we’ve got a world full of friction to draw upon.

So consume your news and your media, be careful how much you take in, and READ. The networks are built to sell ads. It’s an advertising-based model. Ads and eyeballs bring in the cash. Happy people don’t sell. Misery and violence sells. It’s that simple. Think about that next time you hear, “Gruesome murder in the Bronx. Details at six.”

Are you overdosing in your consumption of violent media?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is The Dali Lama—a leader is positive thinking and a proponent of non-violence.

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