Editor: Recently, the national discussion has again turned to gun control and the issue of excess violence in our culture, along with increased, untreated mental illness. Sadly, the ‘entertainment’ industries continue to feed American consumers a steady diet of ‘violent action thrillers’ – games, films, books – filled with brutality for young and old audiences alike. This type of entertainment does not model or encourage well-adjusted social behavior such as compassion, kindness or understanding. Instead, it feeds an already unhealthy trend in our society that emphasizes aggressive behavior in our families, our relationships and our community.
We have a deep concern about the showing of the new film, Zero Dark Thirty in local theaters. This film presents viewers with a ‘fictionalized’ story depicting many graphic scenes of the horror and brutality of US government sanctioned torture and assassination. We are deeply concerned that these images strengthen the mass psychology that otherwise immoral and deplorable behavior is acceptable in the face of perceived threats to national or personal security.
Some argue that the film does not endorse torture, but it is undeniable that its extreme content – along with hundreds of similar films – desensitizes our minds and normalizes these brutal acts. Our moral fabric is being torn apart, and with it, a notable lack of life-nourishing experiences. Today’s field of entertainment offers little of humankind’s positive aspects and the need to care for our beautiful world, but there is no reason that it couldn’t.
Local audiences have the option to provide substantive, insightful, and compassionate work or alternatively, brutal, sadistic and hostile imagery. As our nation continues to export violence through the sale of weapons and military aggression around the globe, we implore them to consider their role in presenting more films that provide societal uplift rather than degradation. They have an important role and responsibility in our community and we look to their leadership.
The Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 71, Sonoma County
Praxis Peace Institute
Sonoma Valley Peace & Justice
CA 2nd Congressional District of The Peace Alliance/Dept. of Peacebuilding Campaign
Healdsburg Peace Project
Metta Center for Nonviolence
Terra Freedman, PJC Board Member