Our culture has become so “sophisticated” we have become creatures with little, if any, buffers through which we can filter what is entertaining from what is barbaric. We seem to have evolved into a predatory culture, feeding on the vulnerable, the innocent and the ignorant.
Perhaps all we can expect now from a sophisticated population such as ours is folly, fantasy, and … ferocity? Case in point: the many books-turned-films of Stephen King. King has a reputation for writing blood-lusty novels, many of which target innocent children and teens with intentional brutality.
In “Salem’s Lot,” blood is sucked from the veins of children by vampires. In “Carrie,” a teenage girl is rampaged by her religious fanatic mother, ravaged by her peers, and baptized with a bucket of pig’s blood. Then in the closing scene, Carrie herself sparks telekinetic revenge upon all of her prom-attending perpetrators. In “Cujo,” a boy nears death by heat hydration confined in a stalled Volkswagen. ( He’s confined there so he won’t be eaten by his rabid pet St. Bernard. )
But the lowlight of all of this is the book-turned-box-office-sensation, “IT.” No filter, no buffers, just outright brutality perpetrated upon an innocent and unsuspecting boy. Dismemberment of the boy’s arm in the teeth of a predator — gushing blood and all. Then he is quickly swept away down the sewer, washed away as if nothing happened.
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The book is still a best seller. The film “grossed” record attendance. Is this entertainment at its best or most brutal? In this country we have the right to choose either.
But consider the deeper questions: Have we become so uncompassionate for life — all of life — we can no longer distinguish between what is wholesome and what is horrible?
Could this trend desensitize us, make us a predatory culture, wherein only the “fittest” decide who is esteemed to survive and who is worthy of victimization?
I hope there is still a modicum of compassion in our culture to counter the horrors of such depictions, fictional and otherwise. Particularly as brutality is perpetrated upon the innocent and the vulnerable, especially upon babies in the womb who have yet to experience the wholesome possibilities of life.
Brian Shoemaker is assistant director of the Kentucky Right to Life Association.