by Izzy Kalman (March 2004)
Mel Gibson is a genius, having produced what may become the biggest blockbuster movie of all time. What I don’t understand, though, is how, being a devout Christian, he can produce such a film. He isn’t stupid. Perhaps he doesn’t read the professional psychological journals, but anyone who reads newspapers and watches news on television knows that violence in entertainment desensitizes people to real-life violence. Why would Mel Gibson make a film that will desensitize viewers to Jesus’ pain? And if we become desensitized to the pain of Jesus, won’t we also become desensitized to the pain of ordinary mortals?
I also don’t understand the excitement of the country’s Christian leaders, either. Why are they encouraging their flocks to see a film that will desensitize them to the pain of their Lord?
Because they AREN’T stupid. Violence in entertainment has always been used to SENSITIZE people to life problems. Virtually all literature, including the Greek tragedies and the Bible, is full of violence. Entertainment is one of the most powerful teaching tools, giving us windows into aspects of life that we otherwise may miss. In modern times, entertainment has served to raise people’s awareness to the plight of Blacks, Jews, Latinos, Irish, women, Gays and Lesbians, the learning disabled and people with various other handicaps, and virtually every minority you can think of, including endangered animal species. It has raised sensitivity to child abuse, drug abuse, and a host of other social problems. I would bet that entertainment, more than any other force in modern life, has sensitized people to human suffering.
The only people that have seemed to miss the purpose of violence in entertainment are those researchers who are invested in proving that violent entertainment causes violence in real life.