Gracing movie screens this month is “Lone Survivor,” a movie which retells the heroic story of four Navy SEALs and their covert mission to neutralize a high-level al-Qaeda operative.
Also coming to the silver screen is Labor Day, which features a Vietnam veteran and strong violent themes, including domestic violence.
And “The Monument’s Men,” a story about a World War II platoon, tasked by Franklin Delano Roosevelt with going into Germany to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and returning them to their rightful owners, will be out on Feb. 7.
These movies, while diverse in subject, are part of a larger trend of an increasingly glamorized violent culture. That, at least, isn’t new information.
But in some ways, the violent society forming around us explains the overwhelmingly large number of shootings on college campuses.
We’re beginning to see effects of a society that tells people that violence is normal, if not encouraged. One of the problems with being constantly being bombarded with these images is that we’re becoming desensitized to the events themselves, seeing them as inevitabilities or statistics.
Sociology Department Chairperson Jaqueline Hogan said this shift in emphasis is especially affective to boys and young men.
“From an early age, boys learn that if you want to ‘be a man,’ you need to be able to dominate others, control others,” Hogan said. “Guns are one means of achieving that dominance.”
The achievements of these guns have been more and more prevalent in news’ headlines as of recent.
Of these recent shootings, 11 total in January, only one featured a shooter who opened fire in a classroom. We’re not seeing blind anger at anyone; we’re seeing targeting shooters who are attacking their “friends” or authority figures that they can’t work with.
It’s that combination. When young people feel victimized in the classroom, and the media is telling them they can respond violently.
“Some scholars argue that this is because in our culture – and particularly in our mass media – masculinity is strongly associated with violence and domination,” Hogan said.
Violence is becoming a means of communication, not a defense out of necessity. Before, violence was a final option, something to do when nothing else could be done, and now some are considering it an acceptable immediate reaction.
Students of all ages are looking at violence as a viable option.
And that is probably the scariest part of all.