Monday, May 22, 2006

Verbal Violence

I know I've already posted enough today for the entire week, but Kim told a story in the comments of "What Are Violent Movies For?" that's got me thinking.

Read her story and think about how numb you've become to seeing violent scenes on the screen. I certainly have, even though I don't consume a lot of on-screen violence intentionally.

But Kim reminds me that not only is visual violence spewed at us through the entertainment and news media 24-hours a day, so is verbal violence. It seems to me that vile, truly hateful insults are an accepted part of our everyday environment now, and particularly in the blogosphere.

For me, it comes mostly as an onslaught through the celebrity blogs I love to read as a form of relaxation and entertainment. Yes, I love scrolling through paragraphs about Brangelina or TomKat or Britney Spears' latest baby disaster. What I don't understand is why so many bloggers feel it's okay to describe celebrities in the most disgusting, often obscene terms. Should it be any surprise that drunken, bloated oil heir Brandon Whatshisname was recently videotaped spewing absolutely pornographic insults about movie star Lindsay Lohan? And that a giggling Paris Hilton was by his side the entire time, cell phone firmly pressed to her ear?

This goes on on political blogs, too, when the likes of the incisive, very bright and entertaining Rude Pundit makes his fame spinning every tale of corruption in the Bush Administration into a pornographic scenario. I loved it initially and now it turns my stomach (and I have a lot of stomach to turn, kids).

When MotherBang and I were looking through the Time Out magazine for theatre listings this past Thursday night, I noticed that at least three articles had outright cusswords in them. And I'm not talking about the more mild cusswords, either. Why the egregious potty-mouthing?

I'm a rather saucy-tongued gal myself, and certainly have no problem with the occasional expletive or spicy insult. But I notice that I'm playing rather fast and loose lately with certain words I could never even bring myself to say ten years ago, let alone gleefully sling around in conversation with my sister (we're very naughty because it makes us laugh so hard). What happened?
I became inured to the ugliness of these words by hearing them all the time.

Maybe that's not such a bad thing; to reduce a previously ugly word to a naughty giggle with my sis.
But it certainly is a bad thing when it's fair game to express our casual dislike of this or that public figure -- whose only real crime is to not live up to insane standards of physical perfection, wealth and power among the entertainment elite -- by using the most hateful, richly abusive language we can contrive.


Blogger LaReinaCobre said...

There are a lot of admonitions against this very thing in the Islamic tradition. This is probably why I used to be so shocked by language used by just ordinary people when talking about ordinary things. And probably why sometimes snark bothers me. I can't remember the exact quote, but there is a tradition that says something along the lines of "beware of saying cruel things for the purposes of making people life." I am seriously paraphrasing there. I will have to get the specifics later.


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