Nonsensical Desensitisation Sensationalism

Penetration – thrust at us from all directions.

We cannot bypass this piercing perforation.

Be it savage evisceration or venereal infiltration.

We cannot escape this cultural condemnation.

It makes you sick doesn’t it? Not my inadvertent verse, but the poison plague that coats our culture. The sex! The violence! It’s in the games we play. It’s in the music we hear. It’s in the TV we watch. It’s the reason this country’s gone to the proverbial pooches.

Sex and violence – makes you sick doesn’t it?

Actually no. No it doesn’t. Perhaps it should. But it doesn’t. Permeating our TV listing, consoles and radio-waves until we’re at saturation point, we absorb so much violence we don’t even know it’s there. A man could be strangled, seared, smothered and smouldered on my OLEDHD3D1080p screen and I’d barely process his passing. Why? Because we’ve been desensitised.

Rambo has a body count of 236. 236 husbands, wives, sons and daughters mercilessly slaughtered in the name of entertainment. In the split seconds it takes for a single .50 caliber bullet to to leave Rambo’s M2 and tear through the air until it rips the face from an approaching Burmese soldier and carelessly flings his facial features to the forest floor, in the moments in which his soul is snatched from him, in the moments in which her life is lost, it is in these very moments that we must honour the sanctity of human life, and revere, respect and remem…

We don’t have time to mourn! Rambo’s gonna rip this guy’s larynx clean out his neck! Check this shit out!

What would we do without this masturbatory malevolence? What’s an entertaining alternative? Watch John Rambo solve the problems of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar with a peace treaty and a nice cup o’ tea? No thanks.

Apparently we’ve been desensitised because we consume too much sex, too much violence through our chosen media outlets. But can it really be avoided? Despite televisual violence being bastardised, brutal, and allegedly influential some stories simply can’t be told without it. No genre, no form is free from the things considered morbid, considered mature or taboo.

Growing up watching turtles with nunchakus and coyotes with high explosives I was being desensitised from the very beginning. What hope did I have of becoming a responsible citizen? I was probably 100% desensitised before I’d finished nursery.

Disney definitely did their fair share of shocking too. From the callous nullification or Ursula in The Little Mermaid to the savage slaughter of the Hydra in Hercules. How can a child not become desensitised when his earliest memories are of the merciless obliteration of mother deer in Bambi? Or the barbarous betrayal of Mufasa in The Lion King or the

We’re taught from an early age that death awaits everyone and everything. We’re told to get used to it, and we have.

While the typical costume drama isn’t exactly the storming of the Bastille, they contain more than enough sexual misconduct to give a 14 year-old boy what little encouragement he needs to get his fap on.

Lust is the driving force powering the period drama. Maybe I’m generalising here, but usually our plucky heroine is involved in a typically tangled web of lies and deceit, forcing her to make outrageous decisions while she vies for the for the love of a man she simply cannot have. Hormones rage so hard it’s enough to make any man ovulate. Why do you think it’s called a period drama? Ain’t ’cause o’ those old-fashioned dresses lemme tell ya.

The humble soap opera has been a staple of British TV for decades. Millions tune in weekly, daily to view the latest happenings in Walford, Weatherfield and Emmerdale. People of all ages watch soaps. I don’t think anyone would ever describe them as morbid. But I’ve seen things happen in Albert Square that I never saw in San Andreas. I’ve seen things on Coronation Street that I didn’t see in Vice City. I’ve seen shooting, stabbing, shanking and shafting. I’ve seen crazies setting houses alight, maniacs beating innocent women with crowbars and shovels and lunatics ploughing themselves and their families into frozen lakes. And most of that was done by one man! Ricardo Diaz ain’t a patch on Richard Hillman.

The soap psycho certainly isn’t a common character occurred throughout life reality, but he’s out there somewhere. Because he exists, and let’s face it, he’s extremely entertaining, he’s scattered throughout television as a means to improve ratings. Sure, tuning in to see Gail and Audrey amusingly muse about how Gail had burned David’s venison the night prior, the silly mare, sure it’s nice and cosy. But wouldn’t you rather Gail accidentally set fire to the kitchen causing the whole of Weatherfield to burn to an ash? I would. But maybe I just don’t like Gail, the hamster-faced whore.

Desensitisation cannot be attributed to the media of today. It’s been an ongoing occurrence since the dawn of media. Hell, the dawn of time. Disney character’s have been  dying since the 1920s. Since the bygone era of the silent movie. Since that first broad was tied to the train track by some sadomasochist with a moustache. Sex and violent has always existed. It always will, and until the dystopian future inevitably arrives it will continue to be portrayed in shocking, or rather not shocking ways.

As we ascend the ages, at what stage do we arrive at a generation who are not desensitised? What’s the normal way to react to a grisly on-screen murder? Granted, if you laugh maniacally and begin urgently scribbling note you may be in need of some counselling. But are you desensitised if you don’t look away? If you don’t shriek and dive behind the sofa so hard you burrow into the ground?

40, 50, 60, 70, 80 years old. A reasonable assumption is that the older you are, the less in touch you are with the cultural interest of today, with the filmic and musical tastes of younger generations and with the supposed increase in sex and violence scattered amongst it all. Therefore the older you are the less desensitised you’d be.

But look at me – barely but a man. A fresh-faced child. I’ve seen no conflict, felt no pain. Yet it is I who is desensitised? I’ve never fought in a war, never worked in a mine. I’ve never really worked at all. I don’t even pay taxes. Apparently I don’t even know I’m born. The elders have seen more hardship than I, and the hardship they experienced was real. My overexposure is elaborate works of fiction wrapped up in an entertaining bow and placed at my feet.

At the rate we’re going, generations to come will be so damn desensitised that they can not only view the taking of a life with a smile on their face, but do it themselves. They’ll need to too. In 150 years time when the few remaining survivors are blindly staggering around the desolate ashland that was once London, they’re going to need to be able to look another man in the eye before plunging a shiv into his chest and relinquishing him of both his life and precious resources. It’ll be a basic requirement of survival.

If desensitisation is a genuine problem that must be fought then I have a solution. Overexposure to a superabundance of sex and violence is our obstacle. But what’s the correct amount of exposure to sex and violence? This is what we must quantify and control.

Once over the age of 18 each TV license-paying citizen will be issued with 20HP per week. Hits points are expended every time the user observes morbid sex or violence in any media format.

Points are deducted depending on the gruesomeness of the scene. Once you’re out of points, it’s no more dick or death for you until the week passes and your points are replenished.

For example: if a couple were to fornicate and the female were to stab the male a single time with a fork because he moaned: Beverly, in the throes of passion when his wife’s name is and always has been: Margaret – you’d receive a 3 point deduction.

If a woman were to be repeatedly raped by centaurs before being uppercutted into a spiked ceiling where her carcass slowly drained of all fluid, à la Mortal Kombat – you’d receive a full 20 point deduction.

Meaning you could watch Seabiscuit and You’ve Got Mail every day of the week if you wanted, but once you watch The Human Centipede [First Sequence] you’re all out of points.

We’re desensitised. That’s what we’ve been branded. I prefer simply; tolerable. I can tolerate the odd decapitation, mutilation and strangulation, because it’s fictional stimulation. I’d rather beat a guy with a dildo on Grand Theft Auto than walk one of my Nintendogs. I have a real dog for that.


Article first published as I Sense Desensitization on Technorati.


6 thoughts on “Nonsensical Desensitisation Sensationalism

  1. Bravo and LOL!!
    I once did a speech about movie violence and pointed out that throughout history the human race has done horrible things to each other, most of it WAY before the invention of movies.

    • It’s true. It’s probably also true that our depictions of it have gotten steadily worse as well, but I still don’t believe it’s a major worry. Anyone who truly believes that these media forms breed ‘copycat’ violence needs to rethink their arguments. Murderers and rapists always have and always will exist, and they did so long before they ever watched a violent film. The capacity to commit a horrible crime lies within you before you start watching A Clockwork Orange.

      What exactly was Jack The Ripper watching to spur him on? Ultra-Ultra-Ultra-Ultra-Deviant-Ultra-Über-violence. I dread to think.


  2. Not to mention that if games and movies spurred real life violence, judging from the numbers of people that view the offending scenes, there would be a whole lot more killing going on.

  3. Well, let’s see, I listened to a lot Judas Priest, witnessed horrible, gory death scenes, killed and maimed in video games… BUT I draw the line at sex scenes (not a spectator sport), so I’d be a homicidal maniac with suicidal tendencies, who’s a puritan at heart. heh

  4. What about the soaps and the impact they have on the young unsuspecting viewers who get an eye full of cheating and extra marital affairs and it’s all made to look glamorous and exciting.

    I think it’s wrong, I have seen people watching this and the reaction and their body language says it all, they actually get a kick out of it and model their life’s and their perception of life on it.

    It’s all part of the divide and conquer technique and why so many people are promiscuous and also why so many marriages fall at the first hurdle. It’s dumbing us down and keeping us quiet or pre occupied so that we sit back and the real criminals take our lively hoods without as much as a peep.

    so yeah we have been de-sensitised to the extent that we are happy to go to work then come home and spend countless hours watching soaps that promote sex and cheating and when the weekend comes the majority of those soap watchers go out an enact on their newly honed skill set the picked up from the sofa whilst watching coronation street or east enders.

    fantastic eh.

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