Will future generations be immune to horror?

COMMENT: Cameras have become part and parcel of everyday life

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I recently came across a cyber conversation about our increasing desensitisation to violence through TV, films and computer games.

The subject in question was the first episode of the new series of Misfits, which I haven’t actually seen but I’m assured it was suitably graphic in its gore factor.

Generally, there seems to be a distinct difference between the tolerance of men and women when it comes to gore. I have one female friend who cannot bear TV with even the slightest bit of tension in it and for many women, films with anything more frightening than Matthew McConaughey are to be avoided at all costs.

On the flip side, many men seem comfortable watching people getting blown to smithereens, limbs and organs flying this way and that – yet the thought of a film with McConaughey in is enough to instil fear and anxiety.

Of course, horror and violence are nothing new – maybe it is more to do with the realistic effects that are available now. We’ve come a long way from Hammer Horror and when it comes to effects, we’re not talking ketchup splatters and jerky stop-frame dinosaurs anymore. Computer games are so realistic you may as well be watching real life events.

For me, games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto go a long way to trivialising violence. They take graphic scenes out of the context of reality and into our homes where they are ‘played’ for entertainment – it’s quite good fun, so I’m told. And this isn’t just female bitterness about men who favour toggling their PS3 joysticks while hiding behind a virtual bush with a virtual machete – to me violence and entertainment go together about as well as a bikini in winter.

I’m not saying that what happens on our televisions is solely responsible for real life events, but it has to have an influence. If a child grows up in an abusive home it affects them mentally for the rest of their life. If a child sees something abusive on the television it is fair to say it will also affect them mentally on some level.

Of course most things have an age rating, but do all parents actually stick to them? Even in milder child-friendly TV, violence is often glamourised by attractive role models and fails to show realistic harm, grossly understating the severity of injury that would have actually occurred.

It still sickens me to my stomach that hideous, twisted, revolting violence seen in films such as Saw is considered entertaining.

Don’t we have enough to deal with? Real-life violence is diluted and downplayed by its fictional counterpart, but you can’t switch off reality.

With its increasing prevalence in our everyday life for entertainment value and the thrill factor, what will current and future generations feel towards real life violent acts?

Will it affect them emotionally, or will they eventually become completely desensitised, brushing it off as just another something that has happened?