When Evil Becomes Not So Evil

I’ve seen a number of TV ads for movies that will release this month, and I have to admit, I’m concerned. One called Jigsaw has this storyline:

Bodies are turning up around the city, each having met a uniquely gruesome demise. As the investigation proceeds, evidence points to one man: John Kramer. But how can this be? The man known as Jigsaw has been dead for over a decade.

There’s another one about a serial killer. Another that released on Friday is called American Satan and is about a pact with the devil. Then there is Happy Death Day and the one about a baby-sitter who is part of a satanic cult, looking to kill the kid she is supposed to watch.

Yet we have no idea why someone would shoot an automatic gun at a crowd of strangers.

I think there’s a disconnect in our society.

Mind you, I’m a writer, and I believe in the pretend. I don’t think imagination is bad. I don’t think we should whitewash stories so that all the bad parts are as good as bleeped out. On the other hand, I don’t think we should make the Wicked Witch of the West the hero in the story. I don’t think we should look at brutal killings as entertainment.

So am I condemning murder mysteries? Maybe I am. I have been a consumer all too often and maybe I shouldn’t be. Because I think the more we see the evil that man inflicts on man, the more we become callous to it.

For example, I’ve seen wild fire video year after year here in SoCal. Honestly, I don’t have the same compassion any more when someone standing in front of the burned ruins of a house says that they lost everything. I sort of shrug and think, You’ll rebuild your life in a few years.

It might be true, but it’s not compassionate to view people in that way.

That’s what I think this excess of evil as a form of entertainment might be doing to us. Serial killers, demon activity, evil babysitters—who cares? It’s all just for fun.

For fun?

When did people dying become fun? When did people making pacts with Satan become entertainment?

Well, as far as the latter is concerned, Faust comes to mind, the German legend retold by such writers as Christopher Marlow and by Goethe. In fact there have been plays and operas and symphonies based on this legend.

But what seems apparent is that the stories were once told as cautionary tales. Making a deal with the devil brought ruin.

Maybe the modern day movies depicting evil still have the same purpose. On TV the crime solvers still track down the perp. Shows aren’t generally about criminals getting away with crimes.

But I have to wonder, what about compassion? Are we becoming hard of heart because of our propensity to find entertainment in stories that deal with evil? Or are we reinforcing the “good guy wins” narrative?

Sadly, in the TV ads for this month’s movies, the emphasis is all about the death and/or mayhem, I assume, because that’s what sells. If we were watching horror because good wins out, shouldn’t that be the selling point?

Instead, I think movies and TV programs alike have become “darker” because what we watched fifty years ago no longer gives the adrenaline rush of fear that it once did. So now we need something more sensational, more graphic, more bizarre.

We are like the crowd going to the traveling circus to see what outrageous display they might have behind the curtain. Does it make people feel “normal” to see someone else who is so strange? Or did it harden their souls so that they had no compassion for those who dealt with disabilities they couldn’t imagine?

Same idea, I think, for us today. I suspect the more we watch evil, the less evil it seems, and the less compassion we have toward those who suffer—brutality or the compromise with evil or the loss of loved ones. Now we want something new. Something more dangerous. Something that will make us feel “normal.”

What do you think? Can we see so much evil that it no longer seems evil to us?

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Published in: on October 16, 2017 at 6:06 pm  Comments (11)  
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  1. It sort of reminds me Hunger Games. There are several great object lessons in that series, but one of the things that strikes me as how people in the capital get a kick out of watching real people kill each other. It’s not a movie of people pretending, this is real people doing real killing and they devour it. When I read it, all I could think was, “this is just like reality TV.” Personally, I can’t stand “reality” TV because it’s so fake, but I can foresee “reality TV” becoming more brutal over time as people want something more exciting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great example of the way evil can be normalized until it no longer feels evil. And that’s the way we’re headed, I think.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Look at two of the most popular television shows of the last decade: Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. And not to mention all of the NCIS, CSI, SVU, ad nauseum crime shows. No, they don’t glorify violent crime, but I believe they do objectify it to an extent.

    It’s funny (ironic, not “ha ha”) I was just thinking about this the other day watching ads on TV for all the films coming out soon and for shows like American Horror Story.

    Is it any wonder between those and “games” like Halo, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto (the worst offender in my opinion), et al, that our kids are growing up desensitized to violence?

    Ephesians 6, now more than ever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was actually thinking of the CSI franchise.

      You must see the same ads I do because I was so struck by how horror has “advanced.” It seems we’re taking a giant step into what once was too much.

      Becky

      Like

      • Amen; all in the name of “social progress,” or so I hear. Share the Gospel and pray for 1 Thessalonians 4:16 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well said, Becky. I too am concerned. There is nothing new under the sun, the nature of people has not really changed all that much, it is just that as Christian people we should never lose sight of the fact that the entertainment of the day was once torturing and killing Christians. All those coliseums and gladiators and lions where about providing bread and circuses, entertainment for the people.

    Kind of demonstrates that there’s something seriously wrong with us, that we truly do need a Savior. Here we are a few thousand years later and for fun, for recreation, we watch the re-enactments of rapes and murders, and shows that glorify making pacts with satan.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this piece Rebecca, I’ve though a lot about this kind of thing. When we take a hot piece of metal and apply it continually to the same piece of skin, eventually, the place will be little more then a mass of scars and dead tissue; unfeeling and unliving. Romans 1 talks about the depravity that sets in once we suppress the knowledge of God – you’ve just discussed one of its manifestations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow! What a great illustration from the physical world. Experiencing pain and building resistance to it. That’s precisely what we do with the way we respond to evil. Thanks for passing that along.

      Glad you mentioned Romans 1, too. I’m reminded that God said over and over in the OT that He gave people over to their own desires. We don’t realize we want what’s deadly, and if we don’t listen, we’ll get precisely what we want.

      Becky

      Like

  5. We know it is true that we become like what/who we listen to/hang out with/watch . The wise man of the book of Proverbs said that a very long time ago. Hang out with the wise, you become wise. Hang out with fools, well. I believe it applies to what you are talking about. As followers of Jesus are we countercultural enough to stand against what the world tells us and tries to sell us? We know the “church,” statistically, is becoming almost indiscernible from the world. Do we know what Jesus’ culture is? Do we care? We’d better start caring. I want to care more about what Jesus thinks and wants me to do than what I’d like to do. I may have to rethink/change some things in my reading (I like murder mysteries as long as not too gory and absent other perversions). How I spend my time as a steward of all God has entrusted me with is important. Who and what I spend time with is shaping me into its image. Who am I becoming? Who are we becoming?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen, Jacqueline. This has stuck with me and I want it to help me form different habits.

      Becky

      Like


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