When Does Graphic Violence Become too Real?
I was wandering around YouTube the other day, when the service recommended this video — X-Men Origins: Wolverine — as something that should interest me based on my previous watch patterns. I was surprised YouTube wanted me to view a trailer for a video game, because I really only watch Blues videos. When the Wolverine clip began playing, I was immediately incensed by disgust and fury because of the blatant blood and gory exploitation:
Spikes through the head are never enjoyable.
The ballet between fighters was not enhanced by the blood spatter that quickly became a pink fog encircling them.
Even Wolverine’s regenerative powers were ultimately disgusting.
Here’s the full video if you want to dare to watch it on an empty stomach:
The reason I am sharing the killingfest with you is to try to divine the line between fantasy gore and realistic, ritualistic, killing.
When I was younger, video games and movies could only suggest violence because of social values, the MPAA, and other conscious, moral, restrictions. In the rare event that blood was spilled, it was usually done in a postmodernist way that bordered on cartoon caricature: You always knew it was fake.
That Wolverine game clip is so photorealistic that it fools the eye and fakes that mind that what you are watching is more documentary than pretend murder.
The adult aesthetic can be horrified by how fast technology has made murder everyday and brilliantly gruesome — but what effect do these “hold nothing back” construed killings mean for the immature mind that is malleable, culpable and antagonistic?
Why do we seek to make killing more believable and more realistic as an entertainment escape? What does that reveal about us as a society where blood sells and guts find glorification — and promotion — on YouTube and in our colloquial culture?