Has violence replaced sex in the media?

With the recent flap about the difference between PG-13 and R rated movies being mostly sex and not violence (PG-13 movies were recently shown to have more gun violence than R-rated movies), I was compelled to rewatch a couple of my favorite fan-made videos.  One is Women’s Work, by Sisabet and Luminosity (above) and the other is On the Prowl by sisabet and sweetestdrain (below). Both deal specifically with the way television and the movies portray violence in a sexualized manner.

Women’s Work is an interesting study on the multitude of horrific ways a woman can be killed and tortured on one television show, the CW’s Supernatural. While many of the men die quickly and without a lot of fanfare (which is also disturbing), the women are stalked, menaced and stripped of power (and often clothes) before they are killed in frightening and torturous ways.  This is, of course, done for a specific reason–these women represent something to the male protagonists.  They represent love, affection, responsibility, etc. so the easiest way to force these heroes into a vulnerable position is to threaten these women.  The fact that these tortured characters are women, relates directly to our culture.  If children were put in danger every single week, there would be outcry at the parade of torture and killing of infants.  If it was men in danger every week, would we be as sympathetic when a man should be able to “take care of himself”?  And the creators of the fanvid state that this is not a video singling out this specific television show–this is a pervasive problem with television and movies in general. Basically, the women are expendable.  They are weak enough to be regular victims and symbolic enough to showcase male power and heteronomativity.

However, in the last decade there has be a rise in power of the feminine gaze.  This has led to the same overly sexualized view and (ritualized?) torture of men. On the Prowl illustrates this nicely with a selection from several movies and television shows:

Not only are we seeing those same heroes buff and lacking in clothes, they are now being tortured directly for the viewing pleasure of the audience.  No longer content with women, the audience has demanded that the heroes satisfy our bloodlust as well.

It makes me wonder? Has violence replaced sex in the modern mind? We are definitely more comfortable with violence–an unnatural act of one human upon another–in direct contrast with sex–a natural act of one human upon another. We deny ourselves sex, viewing it as obscene and dirty, but gleefully watch as blood and viscera is cut, torn, and drained from men and women on a daily basis in films and on television.

But this is just my opinion–what do you think?

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Aidee Ladnier

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