Commentary on Violence & A Review/Recommendation of the film “Funny Games U.S.” (a film with Tim Roth)
To be in denial of reality is always a weakness, and it is there I place many others when it comes to the subject of violence.
Violence – it can be aggressive…and it can be non-aggressive (truly defensive).
I write this from the perspective of someone who finds no value in viewing gratuitous violence (in fact, I regard those who obsess on the details of violence – real or imaginary – or engage in playing extremely violent games or in any other way appear derive some sort of “entertainment” from violence as being emotionally/mentally/spiritually unsound and sick), but I am also one has no problem appreciating films which necessarily show depictions of violence – be it fictional, historical, or modern examples – as it is relevant and essential to the story being told and the lessons therein to be learned. I view films for the truth being expressed, the lessons to be learned, the human condition depicted. There is really every reason to remain in awareness of man’s inhumanity against his fellow man. To try and hide from the reality of violence in this world, is to deny reality – doing that makes you weak.
Violence, unfortunately and sadly, is just as much a part of our lives on earth as is every other aspect of life. I consider its denial or refusal to consider its existence, weak and disgusting. “Weak and disgusting?” you may ask…You see, to hide from awareness of the horrors man inflicts upon man is to as I’ve said above is to deny reality – denying reality makes you absolutely of limited or no good to help yourself or anybody else for that matter. If you shield yourself from the horrors, you will in no way be part of alleviating suffering to any significant extent.
What manner of man would live in la-la land, denying there are evil-doers in this world, and thus making no provision or wise plans to protect and guard himself and those he loves from that possibility. A wise man has no fear; a coward many fears. We must not live life in fear, but in the strength and power of love, which brings peace to our lives, this can only be done in knowledge…not ignorance. Knowledge is, as in so many areas, power.
Recently I viewed a most horrific film, Funny Games (The U.S. version starring Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, Devon Gearhart (the family) and Michael Pitt and Brady Corbett (as the evildoers) with brilliant acting from all, intense and relentlessness in that intensity due to its brutal depiction of a family being tortured by two young men. Horrific due to its story, its believability, and its realism (again the actors were superb, with Tim Roth’s performance so powerful, it just did not seem like acting at all, but a tortuous ordeal he was enduring…brilliantly portrayed).
Skillfully made, it brings the viewer into great empathy with the victimized family, the agony of the father as he is powerless to do anything against the evil-doers, and the sheer horror of a situation in which none of the “movie scenarios” commonly provided audiences ever occurs – why? Because this film is NOT entertainment.
This film, perhaps a shock to stupid audiences who have previously filled their minds with the common movie nonsense of bang’em up blow’em up shoot outs and car chases or those who derive entertainment from sordid explicit scenes showing torturous murders or slasher films, has no simple predictable outcome. There is no good-guy hero who is able to save the day, and neither is there any far-fetched villain whom a viewer can convince themselves they are unlikely to encounter in real-life. No. Both the victims in this story and the evil-doers are and can be people we know – we see- we are.
This chilling realism, along with some interesting twists inserted into this story, results in a powerful story.
I shall not describe more of the story, as I would like to recommend it and do not wish to detract from your viewing it. It will be horrific – not for sensationalism – but for realism.
I think it is an excellent film, thought-provoking, and possibly a wake-up call to the blindly arrogant who either disregard violence they hear of, or those who are preoccupied with it as a form of entertainment. Both types of people, the purposeful ignorant and the perversely obsessive, engage in behavior which is irrational and potentially harmful. And it is this aspect I wish to comment on.
We have minds to use as tools to implement that which we’ve placed in our heart. If love, we evince goodness toward others…we seek to help, relieve suffering, and we seek no recognition (though it may come) – for love is all we seek, know and give. If fear, we evince attack toward others…we seek to control, manipulate, and seek glory to the ego. Therein lies the distinction: there is defensive violence and there is aggressive violence. The former a result of those who choose love…the latter a result of those who choose fear.
I make it a point to stay away from those who derive glee from violence. I find them repugnant and am repulsed by anyone who jokes and laughs about the infliction of pain on others – whether real or imagined. Taking pride in the killing or harming of others, no matter the rationale or reason, derives from a corrupt heart. Many, even those who do not engage in such behavior, fall into this category due to their condoning of of aggression in its many forms. Indeed, glorification of aggressive violence (as long as against the “enemy”) is socially acceptable and encouraged in this sick world man has made.
Even when justly delivered in true self-defense, having to resort to harming another must be done with a reverence, a respect that this other human being, due to his own spiritual insanity, must now be harmed or killed in order to protect oneself or others. Never should even the just use of force be glorified and the enemy dehumanized.
Those who glorify violence are themselves are actually some of the most fearful people you will encounter. Their facade of strength (which they falsely correlate with aggression) masking enormous fear of the unknown. Attack, they think, will shield them. Their bravado is of the ego, not real strength which emanates from the heart. They assume a false personality, not their true self, one of glorification of violence, pride, aggression, and “tough” words and showmanship, and through this they think they will be perceived as strong and maybe escape victimization. They corrupt their heart with the notion of attack and rationalize it with words such as “defense” (true defense never aggresses). Others, obsessed with violence, even if they do not resort to aggression themselves, become jaded, a false persona develops tragically distancing themselves from the only thing real in life: love.
This phenomena is common in the childhood bully as an example. A child so disturbed by his own mistreatment/lack of love shown him, that he becomes the aggressor, the abuser, the controller. Just as it’s common in nationalism worldwide where words such as “preventive” and “defensive” are used to disguise the aggression. There is a far distance between defense and aggression, but most governments worldwide have been very effective at making the masses believe they are synonymous…and thus offense is now accepted as being defense. But they are mistaken…and due to their glorification of aggressive violence as the means to their end, tens of thousands have suffered and died.
I also have learned to make it a habit to avoid pacifists (those who claim to reject all violence, even in self-defense) as my associations with them have proven each I’ve ever known to be extremely naive and fearful persons who react in very strange, hostile (and hypocritical) ways to the principle they claim to live by. To begin with, every such person I’ve ever known (there may be consistent examples, but I’ve never known any) who goes on and on in an often holier than thou attitude about their pacifism (claiming to reject all violence even in self defense), has proven to be weaklings, inconsistent, and downright evilly offensive in their judgments upon those who believe in peace while simultaneously understanding and self-defense is not aggression. They, in the littlest and most benign matters of life, react in fear, and often in absurd ways. Their pacifism, being inconsistent with life, leads them to do bizarre behaviors as they try to protect themselves when there is not even a threat, while simultaneously making themselves vulnerable to real victimization by their silly pacifistic lifestyle which takes no thought for even simple wise defensive actions serving only to protect from potential threats. Some I’ve known go so far as to refuse to read or view documentary accounts of even historical atrocities, much less fictional depictions of historical examples of mans inhumanity against their fellow man.
I’ve known persons with pacifist “philosophy” being terrified at the most trivial everyday interactions with others, they overreact, worry, behave foolishly, frequently behaving fearfully or foolishly in situations where the majority of us would think nothing of it. They feel good about themselves when in actuality they do little good, and seem incapable of thinking rationally about most things. They leave doors unlocked but if a stranger appears at the door they become terrified. Their denial of reality has led them to convince themselves that violence is never justified, but at the same time they fear being victimized…those I’ve known have no difficulty professing their beliefs while simultaneously having a willingness for calling others to come to their defense if they think they are in danger. But, to be consistent, if one believed in non-violence no matter the situation, why would they phone to get armed people there to help them? But, alas, pacifist I’ve known are far from introspective, remaining caught up in their airy-fairy world. They perceive danger where there is none and react, while ignoring and having zero perception of actual potential dangers.
You see, both are fearful people, and as such, are untrustworthy. Both overreact. Both,those who either completely think they can hide their heads in the sand when it comes to the brutality and extent of the evil of mankind, as well as those who obsess on it as if it gives meaning to their lives to witness and absorb more of it for “fun,” are fear-based persons, void of peace, void of love, and certainly far from reality, and thus it is best that the more rational individual avoid close association with them.
If not for fear, no matter the form, this world would be one of peace. Fear results in irrational foolish behavior which actually increases risks, and fear results in brutish inhumane aggression. (Most Christians, are fear-based. They behave no differently than anyone else, save for the fact many justify in their own minds their condoning of aggression with their religious beliefs, making them nearly impervious to introspection of their values…and others say they “trust” God while not using the mind God gave them. Most do fall into one of those two categories as well – those who trust the spiritual insanity of aggression or the spiritual insanity of pacifism. The spirit of fear is common in them; and they cite their own interpretations out of context of the time of their Biblical teachings to suit what they’ve chosen. To them I say, Jesus never taught pacifism nor warmongering nor trying to force your will upon others. The man whipping out the moneychangers was no pacifist. His teachings on ‘turn the other cheek’ is a reference to what was then merely an insult – a slap on the left cheek – not an act of violence – to which Jesus is teaching self-control, non-reaction unlike many today who will resort to violence over a mere insult). He taught us to choose a life of love, not aggression, to not make discord/strife/judgmentality its basis…but only love. Who, would not love themselves and certainly their family, so as not to defend them if need be? But, one of love, of faith, has never been taught by Jesus to join with those whose entire way of life is aggression. You don’t make aggression, the condoning of violence against those who have never harmed you or those you love, your way of life unless you have no love, and no faith.)
There would be no bully’s in schoolyards if not for children experiencing lack of love at home…it is a learned behavior, an act of desperation against a world that has harmed them already.There would be no governments committing acts of aggression if not for their citizenry advocating loveless acts upon their fellow man as it brings them perceived advantage…the behavior learned in childhood remaining and now its acts of desperation, its aggression, is directed toward those in foreign lands rather than those who differ from them on the schoolyard. For governments are nothing but people other people choose to do their violence for them.It is all based on fear with aggression being the reaction.
Like one type of scared dog, the pacifist cowers in fear, imagining no harm will come to it if it cowers in fear and runs beneath the bed to hide…and like another type of scared dog, the aggressors in life strike out in fear-based violence against the non-existent enemy without regard to the innocents harmed in doing so.
To be wise, one must reject all fear and consequently all fear-based actions. Knowledge of history is all the evidence we need to know of man’s inhumanity against his fellow man. Open the newspaper, you see it daily. To ever try and pretend aggressive violence is not taking place is to make yourself foolishly unprepared to prevent it…to ever obsess over it, to derive entertainment from it, is to become corrupted within – likely making you confused as to what is a real threat, what is benign, and in such a confused state commission of evil becomes easy.
Aggression is the way of life for most everyone you know. Makes no difference who they are, what they do, most are living desperate lives – fearing aggression or committing it. Both makes them unable to live lives of peace and tranquility.
The answer I’ve found for my life can very well be expressed as is recorded Jesus said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16, King James Version.
To be wise means to be aware. To heed the experiences of others. To listen, learn, observe life in all its beauty and in its brutality…in all its good and in all its evil.
The knowledge thus acquired results in a wise individual avoiding many of the dangers, as he knows the signs of possible victimization and avoids them and if confronted has a mind ready and capable to address the situation.
To be harmless means to be non-aggressive. He has not polluted his mind with sensationalized violence, for the real violence he has read of and witnessed in this world is more than enough to learn from. He doesn’t blindly trust anyone, neither does he lash out aggressively against one who has harmed him not. He simply lives his life, aggressing against no other, focused on the matters which are personal, concerning himself not with the claims of other’s who wish to justify their aggression and bring him into their false unnecessary conflicts. His actions remain devoted to his life and the well-being of those he loves, his compassion and help given at a moment he sees a need, he seeks not to fight the battles of confused fear-based men but only those battles which enter into his life directly.)
Happy is the man who can see the evil world around him, reject it, remain perfectly fearless and never allowing himself to become obsessed with it, for this makes him the strongest against those who would ever try and aggress against him. He loves himself, and others, enough to know violence is justified only in self-defense (and that means use of violence only against one who has or is violently harming another). The wise man is prepared, and beyond that, he gives it no further thought.
Such is my stream of consciousness after viewing Funny Games. It really got me thinking about the way violence is perceived in society. Some try to pretend it exist not, others wallow in it, but a few, a very few, recognize it for what it is – neither in itself good or bad – but a state of mankind which will always be with us as long as most people let fear do their choosing between right and wrong. Used aggressively, it results in suffering…used non-aggressively/defensively, it protects in love yourself and those you choose to care about, but requires forethought.
I viewed it and came away from it extremely impressed with its intelligent direction and superb story-telling by fine actors of a situation/scenario which has happened in many forms time and again. I’ve studied many true-crime cases (due to my opposition to the death penalty and to my intellectual interest in psychopathology) in which such human monsters exact their violence upon the innocent, often those who are living as if such violence could never happen to them and thus make themselves extremely vulnerable to such victimization. It happens, and should be in your awareness adequately to be wise. This is an extraordinarily well-made film.
I highly recommend the film Funny Games U.S.