the end of the world as we know it

Why is it that mankind is obsessed with its own destruction?

thor-2-dark-world-posterNo, no. I’m not talking about drugs and alcohol; not talking about cigarettes or fatty foods, either. I’m not even talking about adrenaline. I’m talking about entertainment.

I never watch T.V. and almost never watch movies. During the three years I was in Asia, I stepped into a movie theater all of about twice. Things haven’t changed much since I moved home. Despite the fact that I live just across the street from a theater, I almost never go. Yes, yes, I know. There are a lot of great films out there. On the whole, though, well . . . Let’s just say I’d rather be reading or writing or riding my bike.

This past Sunday, however, I made an exception. My brother invited me to see Iron Man 3. I hadn’t seen my brother or his girlfriend in weeks, so, despite the fact that Iron Man 3 isn’t really my kind of movie (though I do love Robert Downey, Jr.), I decided to go.

And I was reminded once again of . . .

But perhaps I should back up. If there is one thing you should know about me, it is that I am a sissy. I used to run out of the room scared in Care Bears as a kid, and little has changed since then. I closed my eyes through a large portion of Iron Man 3 (I don’t need to see all the fighting—I just need to know how it ends!), and I’m wasn’t thrilled about most of the previews before the movie, either.

In fact, it was the previews before Iron Man 3 that prompted this post. There they were, one clip after another:

Earth has been taken over by evil. Now, we must fight back.

There are parallel worlds of darkness kept apart—for a reason.

A big spaceship is ready to blow a little spaceship to smithereens.

. . . Death and destruction.
Aliens and war.
Killers and psychopaths.
Dungeons and torture chambers.
People without hearts.
People without consciences.
Haunted houses.
Evil laughs.
Blood and guts,
Ghosts and gore . . .

Etc., etc., etc.

It’s actually laughable, if you think about it. It’s as if each film is competing with the last as to who can do a better job of scaring the pants off of its audience, each plot growing more and more absurd . . .

And I really don’t get it. We say we’re horrified by some of the terrible things that are happening in the world today, and yet look at what we are pumping into our systems. Look at what is becoming “normal.” I say I’m a sissy not because I believe I actually am, but because most people are more tolerant of violence than I am.

And, honestly, I’m not sure that that’s a good thing.



You won’t be seeing me watching this movie.

Image: Google

Note: I’m headed to San Francisco this weekend to run in a 10k fundraising race for a blogging friend. If you haven’t met Arash of “Arash Recovery” or Mike, “The Blissful Adventurer,” I hope you’ll take a moment to get acquainted by clicking on the links above. I’m excited to meet them in person (would love to meet you all, actually), but, if I’m not able to respond to comments right away, you know why!

44 thoughts

  1. Best of luck in the run! I’ve been to the Golden Gate marathon a few years back. I LOVE the San Fran area; gorgeous and superb climate most of the time!

    Yes, the incessant pandering of news media and American cinema to the human Greco-Roman genre of tragedy, violence, and death. We suck it up like a sacrificial calf on its mother’s nipples! But alas, there ARE other more peaceful cultures out there that do not have their ancestral roots in imperialistic conquest, domination, and violence. Mmmmm, give me some Tibetan peace ANY days, weeks, months of the several years!!! :)

    • I’d agree with that. Tibetan peace… I’ve always wanted to go to Tibet. I know it’s been going on for thousands of years, and that our obsession with the macabre isn’t new. (Ooooh, I am just now thinking of gladiators…)

      Shiver. Ugh. I wouldn’t have been able to watch that, either.

      You ran the Golden Gate marathon? Good for you! Don’t know if I’ll ever complete one of those. Enjoyed San Fran yesterday and the run, but don’t know if I’m cut out for long-distance running.

  2. The sad obsessive fascinations by many people of this planet for things either macabre, violent or plain decadant must be part of our instinctive heritage. Because so many concentrate so much energy upon these so-called areas of relaxition – is it no wonder that our planet is in the state which it is? I mean, positive attracts positive as does negative attract negative.
    Actually, I find it quite comical that most of the human race obviously believes that if we are to be visited from “beings of another planet” those “aliens” will want to destroy the world.
    Why would they want to do that? If they can “fly” around the universe then I am sure that if they wanted to, they could blow up any planet they wanted. What a waste of time and energy.
    I´m sure that intelligent beings have really no interest in the human race. Still, if it makes a good ? film!
    P.S. Best of luck with your jogging activities.

    • That’s a good point. Why *would* aliens want to blow up our planet? In the book “Slaughter-house Five” by Kurt Vonnegut, aliens from the planet Tralfamadore kidnap a man to study him. They put him in a sort of zoo where other Tralfamadorians can watch him. They see in 4-D and feel sorry for humans in their 3-D state. They also wonder why they are all trying to kill one another (the novel centers around the bombing of Dresden in WWII.) To me, that is a much more plausible concept of what aliens might be like than that they would want to blow us up. What harm are we doing them?

      The worst films to me are those centering around evil master minds who destroy others mercilessly for their own gain. Some of the films we put out there are only fuel for the fire of crime.

      Thanks for the well-wished on my run. It was fun!

  3. It’s totally ok that you don’t like films. And (I must say) there are people who don´t like reading as well! Nobody questions them…
    As a filmmaker (sounds really pretentious), I support you 100%!

    • I don’t mean to say I don’t like films. As I said, *some* are really good. It’s just that I’m a wimp when it comes to violence, most “romantic comedies” are totally cliche and dumb, and a lot of slapstick comedies are just ridiculous and gross. I like documentaries and films with a good point. I really liked the “10 minutes” film you posted on your site a few days ago.

  4. Bingo! I’ve been commenting on this trend a lot lately with friends and family and is the reason why I’m very selective in films or television shows that I watch. My time is limited enough as it is, and the headlines reflect a reality that is terrible enough.

    Best of luck on your run!

    • Yes, being selective is right. As I said, I went to Iron Man 3 for my brother, not because I wanted to see the film. The last film I’d seen before this was “Les Miserables”—*that* was worth seeing. It’s not that all films are bad; it’s that *most* mainstream media is bad—either centered around the macabre, the gross, the cliche, low morals, or sometimes all of the above. And, as you said, the news is already bad enough!

    • Thank you, Jackie! I had a wonderful time. The race was fun, it was a beautiful day, I got to meet a friend for the first time, and SF was absolutely lovely!

      I hope you’ve had a great weekend, too. :)

  5. Care Bears didn’t get to me, but the Wizard of Oz sure did! As a child, I was certain that living in Nebraska I was going to be swept away by a tornado to a land with flying monkeys. There are two things in this world that should not fly…monkeys, and spiders…

    • Haha! I don’t remember watching Wizard of Oz until I got a little bit older, but that would have scared the living daylights out of me, too! I *still* don’t like the big rat in the swamp in “Princess Bride”… :D

  6. Great commentary on society! Nothing wrong with preferring the 3 R’s (reading, writing and riding) over movies. Besides, the new stuff isn’t that great anyway. I do like the comic book movies, though. I recommend anything with Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart or that is in black and white.

    As for the fascination with the destruction of our race and planet, that’s a tough one. I guess if you believe in the duality of man then it’s not so hard to understand the fascination. We all hold the seeds of life and death within us. Maybe there is a shift in which area society is focusing on? Imagine if society’s focus was on life. Imagine if entertainment was wholesome and uplifting.

    I’m still looking forward to seeing Iron Man 3. What a dichotomy.

    • Actually, I *did* enjoy Iron Man 3 (the parts I saw, anyway)! Robert Downey Jr. is pretty great. I could have done without the evilness (is that a word?) of Aldrich Killian and the people who were chemically altered and, essentially, made of fire (or something like that).

      I love your thought: Imagine if society focused on life instead of death? on the wholesome and uplifting? “What a wonderful world that would be.”

      There *are* good films out there. And, yes, most black and white films are great. It’s sad that more of today’s films don’t meet that criteria.

  7. finally, someone who was scared of care bears, too! after all these years . . . i feel so relieved! *whew*

    • Thank you! The race was fun. It was a beautiful day. I am always amazed by how many runners there are in San Francisco!

      And Iron Man 3 *was* entertaining, I’ll admit. Robert Downey Jr. is pretty great. It’s the bad guy and the burning humans I could have done without. Hence, my closed eyes through half the show. :P

  8. I looooooove me some movies. Don’t watch them a ton (twins) but I recycle all of the good ones. Nothing quite like seeing a book you read (and loved) transposed to the big screen–so long as the director does a good job with it!

    • I find I’m often disappointed by books turned to film. They never stick to the plot! I hated the changes to Lord of the Rings on screen and didn’t even bother seeing The Hobbit. But, as I’ve said in other comments, there *are* some good movies out there. Not all are focused on the macabre, the gross, or the cliche. If you can find them, *those* are the films worth watching! :)

      • I loooooooooved LOTR. Not possible to adhere to the books totally. Too dense. I thought casting was perfect…except maybe Frodo, who is lame anyway.

        I loooooooooved The Hobbit too. The only “changes” were supplemental. They worked in some lore from Tolkien’s world, just to make it more full. Other than that, I think it followed the book very closely.

      • Haha. It’s funny how different people’s opinions of movies can be. I have some friends who are HUGE Tolkien fans who were none too impressed by the Hobbit. And I didn’t mind the casting of Frodo in LOTR! I agree that there is no way they could have adhered to the books completely, though. Then it would have been like 100 hours of movies. (I really didn’t like that they put Aragorn with Arwen, though. That was just wrong.)

        Anyway, all that said, I completely respect your opinion and agree that there *is* a place for movies in life. I just wish more of them would focus on the uplifting instead of… everything else.

      • Too true. I don’t do a lot of new movies because its all junk. I saw 3 movies in the theatre last year. It’s gotta be something good to get me there!

  9. Hope your race went well and you enjoyed SF. BTW you go to the wrong movies. Going to Iron Man assures you of seeing the worst previews. Movies are my religion.

    • Haha, Terri. As I’ve said, I know there *are* good movies out there. Iron Man was not my choice. But, alas, it is telling to me that Iron Man 3 was the top box office hit in the theaters this past weekend.

    • Thanks, fragglerock. :) I had to look up Chris Hemsworth, lol. Yeah, he’s pretty good looking. I’m not dissing all movies. Just don’t understand the obsession with violence, evil, and destruction. (Okay, and gross humor and low moral standards and things cliche.) Lol. I’m not picky at all, am I?

  10. “Why is mankind obsessed with its own destruction?”
    Because it spawns a new beginning. I believe wanting to end things is in our nature. Only to start them again. The same.
    Kinda like the cliche “le roi est mort, vive le roi.” The noodle cooker question is why mankind doesn’t learn from its mistakes, or rather why it learns so pathetically slow?!
    Form no movies to Iron Man 3. That was past radical!

    • If we would learn from past mistakes, a new beginning might be worth it. But since we can’t seem to do that…

      Did you mean “*From* no movies to Iron Man 3”? I am a little confused.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • I wish that were true, Marie. Unfortunately, with the statistics what they are (“Iron Man 3” was the top box office hit this past weekend, followed a few films down by “Oblivion”), I’m afraid I am vastly outnumbered. I am kind of nerd in many regards.

      But, thank you!

  11. I think that these movies are not so much an obsession with violence, evil and destruction, but a reflection of those attributes that have been a part of human nature all along. Somewhere in the world, violence, evil and destruction are happening to real people, and these movies are a metaphor for that and cathartic in the fact that most have a hero who stands for the goodness and rightness of being, and ultimately saves the day- hope for us poor nobodies that can’t make a difference but would really like to. Not so much an obsession with evil, but a hope to overcome it. Jack Bauer, Iron Man, Thor, X-men, whoever, all flawed or been through disaster, but overcoming themselves to do good.

    Plus you get to see Chris Hemsworth with his shirt off!!!!!

    • That’s a good point. The one redeeming factor of some of these films is that at least the “good guy” is usually the one who wins. Well, actually, always. And, yes, that gives us hope, which is a good thing. I’m still too much of a sissy to watch most of it, though. I could do with just knowing the plot and watching the good guy come out victorious—with his shirt off, of course, lol—in the end. ;)

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