I have noticed a disturbing trend on TV in the new fall season. There is an increase in the kind of graphic violence being portrayed. The show The Walking Dead is gaining a growing following. The premiere show of the season had a viewership of over 16 million viewers.
I saw The Walking Dead display at Comic Con San Diego 2013. It was a replica of the prison enclosure used in the show complete with barbed-wire fence and zombies walking within the enclosure. Unlike the TV show, this enclosure was built to keep the zombies in. In the TV show the enclosure is to protect the unaffected humans from the growing population of zombies in the world outside.
Because I am a student of popular culture, I decided to watch the premiere episode. I recently saw the cast on an afternoon talk show and found out that one of my favorite actors was on the show. This also increased my curiosity about the show.
In the episode I watched, from what I can put together, there was a young boy who had some type of compassion for the undead and was feeding them rats and other small animals. In the process, he became infected with the disease that created the zombies. Once he transforms he immediately starts feeding on the closest live human being who is asleep on the cot in the room with him.
As he feasts, we are witness to a grisly scene full of lots of blood and gore as he tears at the man’s flesh with his hands and disembowels him so he can feast on his organs as well. Somehow the man is still living when he is found by some of the unaffected humans. They realize that he is now infected with the zombie disease so they must stab him in the cerebellum to destroy his brain and end his undead existence.
There are several more gory bloody scenes in the show, but that was probably the most disturbing. The Walking Dead is on the AMC channel. The shows on AMC are known for breaking tradition with the kind of censorship that the so-called Network TV shows have. It boasts Mad Men and Breaking Bad which both push the limits of what is acceptable viewing on TV-Mad Men for its sex, Breaking Bad for its violence and both for their storylines of depraved humanity.
I must say though, that in watching the new shows on the Network channels, I have to wonder if the censors are on hiatus based on the kind of violence I have seen. The Black List is a new show on NBC about a criminal operative who turns himself in to the FBI. He gains immunity by helping to expose the list of criminals that he formerly worked with. The two shows I have seen included stories about a serial killer and an assassin who used gruesome techniques of torture and murder on their victims. In these tales we view these acts in bloody detail.
Another popular show on NBC is Revolution. It is a tale of a post-apocalyptic America full of brutal violence and torture as well.
The increase in graphic violence and its subsequent increase in popularity among TV viewers cause me to ask the question “Is violence the new porn?” Is there a growing addiction among Americans for blood and gore and violence? Some of this, I am sure is influenced by the increase in graphic violence in video games and their influence on the culture. But I have to wonder where will this addiction lead? There is no question that there is an increase in violence in the real world as well, perhaps as a result of the virtual violence that is experienced in video games, TV and movies.
2012 showed a 1.1 increase in violent crime and a 11% increase in violence against property for the first time in 6 years. As the violence portrayed for us increases so does the violence we experience. The greed of network producers causes them to refuse to accept responsibility for how they are affecting society, but continue to increase the dosage to increase the addiction and the dependence of the audience.
So I for one say no. I will break the addiction and choose more positive influences.
And as the Bible teaches