Are Creatives Part of the Violence Problem?
Put plainly, I am both a consumer of and creator of violent media. And in light of all the horrible tragedies we've had to face in recent times, I have to ask myself if what I do is part of an overall larger problem of glorifying the "dark side" of human nature.
My answer leans toward "no." I like to think that while there is violence or general unpleasantness in my books, I don't paint it in a particularly positive light. In fact, the violence in my stories usually illustrates that such things have pretty terrible consequences. I don't get any joy out of making people kill other people, but let's face it, at the heart ANY story lies conflict. And at the heart of nearly all conflict lies some sort of violence. Or at least pain. The definition of "conflict" is "struggle." And struggles often involve unpleasantness: killing, natural death, fighting, thievery, shooting, stabbing, suicide, drugs/alcohol, betrayal, name-calling, bullying. The list goes on and on. We cannot scrub our stories clean of these things and still create compelling drama of any kind.
While some do seem to put violent acts on a pedestal, the better stories, generally, will show some kind of growth or arc of a character dealing with these things in some meaningful way. They may or may not be "heroes" in the traditional sense, but we will see consequences or retribution for a character who has committed wrongdoing or had it inflicted on them. In nearly all stories, especially the ones that people connect with/elevate/love, we will see the same story being played out time and again, and that is violence, while sometimes either necessary or inevitable, is bad or is used as a last resort.
The thing is, creative people of all walks create their wares for people who understand and enjoy escapism, for the same reason rollercoaster designers make rides that give people the thrill of a fight or flight experience without actually trying to kill them. Consumers and creators enter into a silent agreement that the products are only meant to entertain. We don't put death and violence into our work because that's how we want things to be. We do it because sometimes it provides another kind of lens through which to experience the world beyond the ordinary/everyday. If real-life violence spawns in relation to something we've created, then that silent agreement has been broken. If you or someone you know has trouble entering into such agreements, it's probably best to avoid the the media in question and seek help. And hopefully said help will become more readily available in light of these tragedies.
We should not mindlessly do anything, ever. There are ways to screen our content for objectionable material. There are rating systems. We can avert our eyes from the news, we can adjust the inflow of media and data to suit the way we prefer to see the world. Nobody is a forcibly opened vessel through which the world at large pours in violent and unsavory content. I despise cable news, torture porn and gratuitous rape scenes, for instance, so I avoid those things, and as such, I haven't seen them in years, nor do I intend to.
Entertaining the masses, or at least the segment of masses who like what I write, is all I ever wish to do in this life. Hurting people is absolutely NEVER on my agenda. I will continue writing what I do and enjoying what I watch with that express purpose in mind.