Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sex, violence, and perpetrators in society

Isn't it time we re-examined the United States of America? After all, it is the country with by far the greatest influence in the world. Decisions of the future, decisions of morality, and decisions of life made by the leaders of Earth are all affected by the United States. But taking a look at American society we see some major problems. There is for one a distinct schism between the acceptance of violence and the acceptance of sexuality. Specifically, violence is universally accepted or even welcomed by adults, but exposing people to sex is considered disgusting. How is it that movie theaters across the country clamor to carry a movie depicting several gory murders, but it is widely unthinkable to carry a film in which no one dies and the climax occurs on a bed? How is it that the miracle of life is considered objectionable, but no movie channel on television has a problem with showing a movie in which someone dies of gunshot wounds or a stabbing? Isn't it suspicious when a country appreciates the destruction of life over its creation? As much as America's leaders are loathe to admit, sex is a natural part of life.

No undeserved blame is laid when America's leaders are blamed for the current state of affairs. The administration of George W. Bush has declared a war on porn with several bills and devoted taxpayer money to fighting this war. Searching 'War on Porn' in Google reveals the devotion of FBI resources to finding and searching for obscene porn. Near the bottom there is one key sentence:

"The adult obscenity squad [in the FBI]. . . stems from an attorney general mandate, funded by Congress," she [Debra Weierman] said.

Alberto Gonzales made it a top priority to fight porn websites selling subscriptions for "obscene" material to consenting adults. What is considered obscene, why is it considered obscene, and what's wrong with it if adults have no problem with it? What is impressive about this case is that it is hypocritical in three ways: One, this is using taxpayers' money for an additional government project; whatever happened to fiscal responsibility? Two, this is more big government; an invasion of privacy cannot be regarded as little government. Three, whatever happened to the free market? George W. Bush won the presidency not once but twice based on the economic positions of fiscal responsibility, small government, and free market. Yet, when it comes to porn, economics take a back seat to morality and making sure that some adults can't see what they want to pay to see. Somehow the administration decided to interfere in the lives of its citizens for the arbitrary reason of enforcing arbitrary morality.

Even if some people have questionable taste in pornography, how is that worse than violence? While adults may have the opportunity to view pictures simulating situations of domination and submission, bondage, or other situations involving black leather, how is that worse than violence? After all, even if the sex appears violence, it's still simulated - just like in movies. But for some reason the fact that it's sex makes the content much more dangerous to the community. No movie theater will carry NC-17 movies. It's okay to be ripped apart by a chainsaw, but oh my God are they having S-E-X? Call the police!

And of course we cannot forget books. How could we forget books? Senate candidate George Allen produced a series of excerpts from challenger James Webb's novels - excerpts containing sex. Apparently headline-worthy material consists of politicians putting pen to paper and producing two people getting down and dirty. Disparaging politicians for writing simulated sex is hypocritical. Public figures like Barbara Boxer, Newt Gingrich, Lynne Cheney, Jimmy Carter, and even Bill O'Reilly have chronicled fictional sex. How can we criticize one politician without criticizing them all? Come to think of it, why criticize them? What's wrong with writing sex scenes? In eighth grade a novel writer came to my school and talked about her career as a novelist. One of the things she mentioned was that she was required by her publisher to write sex scenes. She was required to do so. Should I think any less of her for writing about two people taking their clothes off? If not her, why James Webb? In fact, why criticize anyone for writing a sex scene? Who would be traumatized by reading about two fictional characters having sex, versus reading about people being killed? Why is James Webb being criticized for writing about sex, but no one gives a damn that Stephen King has written scenes that include people being killed? While violence and even racism has been covered liberally throughout the history of novelization, some people feign illness at the mention of sex.

I am not criticizing artists, writers, or filmmakers who depict violence. There is nothing wrong with exercising free speech. Violence occurs in daily life, in different forms, so it seems only natural that people want to depict it on film. What's suspicious about violence in film is that people will trumpet this violence over the mountaintops but kick and scream when the sex appears too graphic.

Isn't a society that covets the destruction of life over its creation backwards? Isn't a society that believes in death flawed? While every person has a tendency to act violent, isn't it completely different to glorify it and abhor its opposite?

No comments: