Violence is as American as Cherry Pie


Violence can be found in every facet of contemporary society, from the movies and television’s evening news to school violence. An act of violence can be as small as a threat, but nevertheless it is one of the most common aspects of life. Violence has existed as long as people have been on Earth. The first acts of violence were hunting. Hunting provided a food source before people learned how to cultivate the land. The focus of violence shifted from hunting to also include defense as people began to build fortified structures. Violence has been a way of survival for thousands of years. It has been such a carnal part of life, and it has invaded modern society. In a world that violence is not always necessary it is still used as a form of defense, but it has taken on various other roles as well. With the knowledge of good and evil, why are so many people still attracted to violence when it is not entirely necessary? There are many reasons why people have been drawn to violence.


The focal point of mainstream entertainment has been to incorporate violence as a form of entertainment for many years. Violence can be found in entertainment as far back as the Roman Empire who devised many entertaining ways of killing people. Gladiatorial fights provided popular entertainment for several hundred years during the height of Roman power. The introduction of wild animals, such as lions and leopards, to rip apart gladiators greatly amused audiences. Some prisoners who were sentenced to death were also killed on theater stages when a character was to be killed; this was to maintain realism in the productions. How could such brutal entertainment be accepted by the Roman spectators? First, the people who were sent to their deaths were mainly criminals, many of whom were murderers. For this reason the spectators disregarded many of the gladiators as human, so it was justified to have them killed; it was social justice to have them killed. Another reason such events were so entertaining was due to the introduction of the wild animals. Many People in Rome did not have a chance to witness such things, other than in the Colosseum. At times, the animals sprung up through trap doors adding a sense of surprise and suspension. The enemy of one gladiator now became the other gladiator plus a wild beast. These great spectacles were what kept Romans fascinated with violence in entertainment; to the Romans, the bigger the show the better. The same philosophy can be found in contemporary entertainment. Big explosions, gun fights, martial arts, etc. keep people wanting more. Special effects have also added to the grandeur of the violence. After watching a movie you know that the actors were not actually harmed, which keeps you from rejecting the violence in movies.


There has been a unifying factor as to why we accept violence in movies and television, which is two fold. One aspect of this has been that no one cares when the bad guy is killed since it is justice to end their lives, and we applaud when they are beaten. On the flip-side, we love our hero’s. There has never been anything more honorable than to die for a noble cause throughout human’s existence. People need someone to look up to; we get this through the trials of a hero. The top gladiators in Ancient Rome were viewed as heroes; to defeat the odds, they seemed godlike. The Roman citizens idolized their favorite gladiators, much like we idolize professional athletes today.


The sports realm is another place to find violence. Brutal sports such as football and hockey rule the sports world. We love these violent sports because everyone loves the story of the underdogs; to be backed up in the corner and claw your way to the top to beat a much more powerful opponent is very inspirational. One of the most memorable sports stories is just such a story. No one gave any chance for the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team. The ragtag group of young men faced a much more experienced and better Soviet team. Some sports analysts say that the Soviet hockey team was the