Is society becoming jaded by horror films and corporate misconduct?

Growing up, my friends would always try to convince me to watch scary movies. They love excitement of the gore and suspense. They find a thrill in that bah dum… BaH dUm… BAH DUM… that replicates their heartbeats right before a monster or villain jumps out to attack. The only scary movie I ever sat through – and not by choice – was Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I can still envision, years later, the scene where the traumatized hitchhiker shoots herself in the head. I remember pulling the blanket over my eyes and cringing at the bang of the gun. But my friends barely flinched. Shocked by their lack of reaction, I remember questioning the influence of horror films. Surely they are meant for entertainment, but could they be doing more bad than good?

I feel that as a society, we have become placid by horror films. Even the most gruesome scenes don’t affect moviegoers. What does this say about our society as a whole?

In parallel, I believe we as “viewers” have become jaded by the abundance of unethical behavior by companies. There’s no shock factor any more. A company commits fraud, avoids tax regulations, and provides insufficient working conditions overseas? It barely phases us.

How have we developed the ability to distance ourselves from these events? Many of my friends have explained to me that while yes, the events on the screen are frightening and ghastly, “It’s all fake. I mean they use ketchup as blood!” And as for misconduct overseas, or even on US soil but contained within a company, there exists a clear division between a corporation and American citizens. But this behavior is a recent phenomenon. We didn’t used to be complacent about blood and guts and we certainly did not accept the misconduct of American enterprises, corporations or the government? We have an electric past of Americans rallying across the states to bring soldiers home.

When and why did this hange occur? And should we be doing something about it?


5 thoughts on “Is society becoming jaded by horror films and corporate misconduct?

  1. I completely agree. The fact that the horror genre includes such heinous movies like Human Centipede and Hostel must mean something about our society’s threshold for torture and gore. Implied horror (like in Hitchcock’s Psycho) just don’t do it for the average movie goer these days.

  2. I especially like how you’ve tied our growing tolerance for violence and gore to corporate tolerance for unethical behavior. However, unlike the tolerance for violence, I believe that tolerance for unethical/wrong conduct is decreasing over time. What with increasing SEC and accounting regulation, I believe that it’s more and more difficult to commit (and get away with) corporate fraud nowadays. It’s now a matter of obtaining similar regulations abroad in order to keep corporations on a similar level.

  3. I agree with the fact that the average movie goers are more accustomed to gore and violence on screen. But in my opinion, the corporation brutalities are another matter altogether. The fact that these things happen in foreign countries and so far removed from the American society, does not necessarily mean the Americans don’t care about them anymore. Many of the corporations that commit brutalities/or supporting dictatorship are occasionally boycotted by the public here. So, I agree with Valerie that the acceptance of unethical behavior by corporation is decreasing.

  4. That is an interesting parallel: acclimatization to gore in films and acclimatization to gory accounting or ethics. At the same time, public executions were common until the late 19th century and lynchings of Blacks right up to the end of Jim Crow. Contrary to Hollywood portrayals, lynchings were usually public events. 1,000s would turn up and take souvenirs or make postcards out of it. Here is an example from Duluth, MN, about as far from the deep south as you can get this side of Canada. So, public violence then and now (such as gang violence, domestic violence and so on) I think does more to affect people than imaginary violence. However, I would like to know what good research has shown about the relationship between portrayed violence and behavior.

    Could be a paper 2 topic?

  5. It’s even apparent in books these days. Fifty Shades of Grey? It shocks me that people are reading these novels instead of the American classics like The Great Gatsby and The Sound and the Fury, or Russian literature like The Master and Margarita or The Brothers Karamozov. While this could be a generalization, I feel that most of the books that are read most in our country today are the books with the least amount of depth, symbolism, and brilliance. They do not make you think deeply.

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