Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Violence - is it contagious? A smile is.

I went to see Avatar last week and was completely mesmerised.

I want go there; to run along the treetops and feel part of the forest, to become one of the Na'vi.

Even if the plot was predictable, for me the sheer pleasure of being in such a beautiful place stayed in my head  -  then of course the violence came along.

Emotions in a story often stay with us as a kind of inner stamp whether it is a film or a book.  We need to care about what happens to characters, they have to engage our emotions, otherwise we lose interest in the story.

In the case of Avatar the planet Pandora itself is a character we grow to appreciate and feel for.  

But if emotions stay with us how do we take them back to our own lives.  Does a happy film or do happy books leave us feeling joyful or at least in a positive frame of mind?   Does it make us smile more?

When we see someone smile the automatic reaction is often to return the smile. We learn this as a baby, being praised for doing so. A baby will often smile and chuckle in response to a smiling face, which makes us smile more in return, and laughter often makes us laugh, if we believe it is spontaneous and not forced.

So, if this is the case, does violence and brutality also affect us in a similar way?  At first it might shock but does it begin to blunt the sensitivities and us look for more violence to provoke the initial shock and adrenalin fuelled response. Does it in some instances create the need to repeat it in our own lives, feeling less shocked by the fictional account until the reality is no longer 'real' to us?

At different times of our lives we look for different kinds of story to either suit our mood or to take us away from the reality of our lives.  When we are tired we may look for something light and comic or an adventure, because sheer escapism can suit better than a challenging read.  When we are miserable in a relationship happy love stories might be an escape, or conversely they might be unbearable reminders of what might have been, or never was.   A tale of misery may make us cry while story of triumph over adversity may be uplifting.

What do you look for, and does it stay with you?


  1. I'm looking for something that I didn't know I was looking for.

  2. Wouldn't it be great if you found it, though, Brian!