Cartoon violence

I had to stop watching Game of Thrones, in spite of many friends telling me that it was the best thing ever. I stopped because it was filled with psychological violence.

I’m just not very good with psychological violence, people being cruel to each other, stealing away their dignity or even their souls. I appreciate the attraction of Grand Guignol — the psychic spit take on the human condition that is just so awful you cannot look away.

But I can’t seem to sit through it for purposes of mere entertainment. I’m not saying that others are wrong to do so. Everyone’s entitled to their own brand of enjoyment, and this one is certainly very well done for what it is.

On the other hand, I have absolutely no problem with the violence in Gotham. Lots of killing, maiming, severed hands and heads aplenty. The show portrays all sorts of violence that is completely beyond the pale.

But it’s all cartoon violence. There is no psychological depth to it. The show is written in such a way that you know none of the violence is even remotely real. It telegraphs its fakery.

So I guess for me it’s not about the level of violence. It’s about the kind of violence. Cartoon violence is ok. Depiction of real psychological harm, just for the purpose of entertainment, is not.

One thought on “Cartoon violence”

  1. Game of Thrones really did hit a moment when it stopped making a point with its violence. That point was rather muddled from the beginning – certainly not as clear as in the books – but it seems that the showrunners became obsessed with the reputation the show had acquired as violent, shocking and upsetting, and decided not to do anything else with it other than live up to that reputation.

    There’s something very compelling about Gotham, though, despite (or perhaps because of) how cartoony and overblown it can be. Perhaps it’s how the show distinguishes between institutional violence (the mafia, Arkham, the Gotham Police Department at times) and violence reacting to institutions (most of the comic villains, Fish Mooney) in a way that makes you upset at the comic villains for being so evil while also rooting for them.

    Have you seen Penny Dreadful? It’s my current “thing” – a really smart show all around. I highly recommend it!

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