Skip to comments.American Death and Romanticizing Evil
Posted on 07/28/2012 6:18:17 AM PDT by Paladins Prayer
We may never know what was going though Aurora shooter James Holmess mind when he committed his heinous mass murder. We dont know what kind of psychosis, or precisely what evil influences, he might have been subject to. What we do know is that, in wanting to be the Joker and not Batman, the villainous and not the virtuous, he reflects something prevalent today: The romanticizing of evil. And to whatever extent he was imitating art, this trend certainly is not art imitating life.
I remember when Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega was taken into custody by U.S. forces. Here was this fellow, who wed seen giving fiery speeches from podiums and talking about killing political adversaries, now doing a perp walk in shackles. No longer the strongman, he looked neither strong nor like much of a man; it was as if hed shrunk. He looked pathetic like any dime-store thug in a mug shot. It was then that one understood what writer Hannah Arendt meant when, after observing Nazi war criminals, she coined the phrase the banality of evil.
Evil people arent very interesting, but you wouldnt know it from our popular culture. It serves up fantastical fiction such as the all-seeing serial killer Hannibal Lector, the superhuman Cape Fear criminal Max Cady, and the philosophizing hit men in Pulp Fiction. It certainly titillates and triumphs at the box office, but what, ultimately, is triumphing in the hearts and minds of generations weaned on such fare? What is their conception of good and evil? Which is more attractive to them?
(Excerpt) Read more at thenewamerican.com ...
In a Manichean world evil is more attractive than good. We must stress the positive—the saints not the sinners —in out popular culture. We must show evil as its true face be its in the dark heart of communism or the death camps of Nazi Germany or the destruction of illegal drugs.
Why is a child watching Pulp Fiction, Silence of the Lambs, or Cape Fear? These movies are rated R and they are intended for adults.
“....what was going though Aurora shooter James Holmess mind when he committed his heinous mass murder.”
Why are we so fascinated with an evil mindset but pay very little attention to the action of truly unselfish, noble and self-sacrificing individuals?
Are the latter more “normal” than the former?
Those who think that evil is an abberation and that righteousness is the norm had better look across our southern border and notice that mass murder is an almost daily affair.
Evil is about as common as goodness is but we are not willing to accept this fact.
It was prevalent in Byron's day, and that was 200 years ago.
We all know those mass murders in Sudan, Nigeria, and other parts of Africa are due to Hollywood movies.
Man is violent, always has been, always will be.
“Anyone who clings to the historically untrue — and — thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms. - Robert Heinlein
I don’t think he’s talking about mass murders committed with the pretext of war or ideological justification, but about exalting the cold, calculated behavior of an individual who has decided to chose evil and sees himself as powerful because he is completely without morality or pity.
I do think there’s a problem with individuals taking this as a role model and thinking it’s cool to be evil. In many cases, it’s just a pose and they never do anything and if they’re young maybe, just maybe, they’ll grow out of it. But one of the problems is that people who try it on as an image, maybe to scare their parents, maybe to freak out their classmates, don’t really believe in the objective existence of evil - and therefore they are laying themselves wide-open to it.
I think it was CS Lewis who said that the Devil likes nothing better than for us to think he doesn’t exist.
The large scale, cosmic battle between good and evil has been abandoned in our culture, since we found the good just too darn hard for us and in any case Freud told us that our darker urges were our more “authentic” ones and shouldn’t be stifled. So people are left with only evil as an image, and even though they might not really believe in it at first, it takes them over and they don’t even know it.
Naturally, people who have mental problems are more susceptible to this - I think you’d find that virtually all of these recent cases have been mentally ill or exhibiting abnormal behavior of one kind or another before they did their evil deeds - but there are also weak followers who just get caught up in it. One of the Columbine killers was definitely mentally ill - but the other was just a follower, a loser who fell under the sway of his partner, and defined himself as evil.
I doubt that's true. There are millions of good people living south of the border.
Isa 5:20 ¶ Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isa 5:21 ¶ Woe unto [them that are] wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Isa 5:22 ¶ Woe unto [them that are] mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink:
Isa 5:23 Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!
Isa 5:24 ¶ Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, [so] their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
This has become the story of America, we turned from God and glorified evil, now we reap the fruit of what we have sown.
I also doubt that is true, in my opinion evil far outweighs good.
Good post. It might be because I’m sane all this movie makes killers seems ridiculous. I’ve seen plenty of terribly violent movies, but I know good vs evil, and entertainment from reality. There are still some wholesome movies around, but they are few and far between. I hope someone starts making more family friendly movies. I think they would be very successful. Thanks for your input.
Most likely you are witnessing a few truly evil people and a slew of others who are apathetic or perhaps greedy. It depends on where you draw the line but it’s easy to draw post hoc. Last election we had a fair number of good but clueless people voting for Obama.
Well, there are innumerable ways to do a thing wrong, and only one way to do it right; and people are prone to err.
Nope, good outweighs eveil 2 to 1 - just as only a third of the angels fell. Nobody ever writes a headline "Man Goes To Work, Comes Home and Hugs Wife" is all.
Given that people didn’t have mass communication and entertainment and were far more Christian in orientation, I don’t think it was nearly as prevalent. And the prevalence is the point. I also think that the author was comparing things within the context of America and her short history.
I can answer his question with two points.
1) “The villain makes the hero”, a Hollywood truism. If Darth Vader spent most of his time sniveling about losing his wife and how unfair life is, showing himself as being a neurotic cry-baby who lashes out at others, in a futile effort to diminish his own pain, he would have been just pathetic.
In fact, trying to “humanize” a villain is a terrible directorial mistake and can kill a movie. They should be evil, and like being evil, and know that they are evil, and never apologize for being evil.
2) If you ever want to see a “mundanely evil” Hollywood villain, I would recommend (not really) the movie, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The actors played it for realism, loosely based on the life of real serial killer, Henry Lee Lucas, and it was so terrifying that it got an ‘X’ rating. And deservedly. Terrifying because it was so entirely ordinary.
It shows the villain as a dull, boring, ordinary person who murders easily, and for a long time gets away with it. Lucas, himself, may have killed as many as 350 people.
Yes, but that doesn’t address the fact that, for the most part, there aren’t truly virtuous heroes that kids can look up to today. Even in Star Wars, you did have Vader, but you also had Skywalker and Kenobi. I would include Han Solo, but he was sort of a self-serving schemer, except for when he redeemed himself at the end.
That’s actually pretty tricky, because it is not easy to create an effective hero.
I remember being impressed a decade ago, by the double female heroes of Xena and Buffy, that had little girls stomping around and being “heroic imitative” like little boys usually do. I still wonder what it will be like for girls raised on that.
But dramatic broadcast television has sort of burned out, and we can all agree that while HBO is putting out some magnificent dramas, they are not the sort of thing you want children emulating.
The better side of Hollywood has been far more adult oriented in theme, if not content, not something that showcases heroism very well or is interesting to children.
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