Why is American culture so obsessed with violence?

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mr_bigmouth_502
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13 Aug 2014, 9:03 am

I'm a Canadian, and as such, due to my close proximity to the United States, I am exposed to a fair amount of their culture. One thing that kind of baffles me about them, is why they seem so violent in comparison to us. I'm not saying Canada's a utopia where everyone is happy and peaceful, we've had serial killers and school shootings just like the US, but I just get this impression that Americans are obsessed with violence and death, at least more so than people from other countries. It's evident in everything from their politics, to their laws, and even their entertainment.

Now, I'm not trying to point the blame at any particular thing, I just want to know; what is the root of this obsession? I know humans are violent by nature, but violence just doesn't seem as fetishized in the culture of other countries as it does in the culture of the United States.

Tell me your honest thoughts and opinions. I know the statement I'm making seems kind of radical, and that it may not even be correct, but keep in mind, I'm a Canadian, and this is what I see from my perspective.



Stannis
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13 Aug 2014, 9:33 am

Not sure. Violence in entertainment could be a way to socialise the public into an empire which routinely commits acts of aggression, and has an increasingly violent domestic police force. 24 is probably the most blatant example of this.

Possible parallels between modern U.S and ancient Roman, imperialist propaganda?

Quote:
But beneath the veneer of gentility, there was a chilling note of warning. Myths depicted men ripped apart for defying the gods or challenging those who - like the emperors - enjoyed divine protection.

Legends from Rome's past told of enemies vanquished, lands laid waste and thousands sold to slavery.

Christians were eaten alive by half-starved beasts. Rebels and outlaws were burnt at the stake.

And in the amphitheatre, dramas of life-and-death were acted out which symbolised the gulf between friend and enemy, citizen and barbarian, freeborn and slave, loyalist and dissident.

Gladiators fought to the death dressed to mimic historic enemies like Samnites, Gauls and Britons. Christians were eaten alive by half-starved beasts. Rebels and outlaws were burnt at the stake. The arena offered a pageant of 'the war on terror' Roman-style.

Much imperial propaganda consisted of traditional themes endlessly repeated.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/ro ... e_01.shtml



Last edited by Stannis on 13 Aug 2014, 10:22 am, edited 13 times in total.

naturalplastic
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13 Aug 2014, 9:34 am

Hollywood's biggest export to the rest of the World is: Sylvester Stallone as Rambo.

We Americans may have concocted Rambo. But the movie goers of the world cant get enough of him. Terrorist fighters in the Middle East take time off from firing real automatic weapons in real combat to stand in line at local cinemas to watch stallone wield replica weapons in fantasy combat. So the whole human race must be rather obsessed with violence. Go figure.



khaoz
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13 Aug 2014, 9:39 am

Christianity breeds violence. Shoving the culture of guilt and shame in our face 24/7 creates resentment and hostility. People grow wearly of that and seek ways to outlet the frustrationn



Tequila
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13 Aug 2014, 9:42 am

Why are people so obsessed with violence?

There you go. Right there.



mr_bigmouth_502
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13 Aug 2014, 11:04 am

naturalplastic wrote:
Hollywood's biggest export to the rest of the World is: Sylvester Stallone as Rambo.

We Americans may have concocted Rambo. But the movie goers of the world cant get enough of him. Terrorist fighters in the Middle East take time off from firing real automatic weapons in real combat to stand in line at local cinemas to watch stallone wield replica weapons in fantasy combat. So the whole human race must be rather obsessed with violence. Go figure.


Tequila wrote:
Why are people so obsessed with violence?

There you go. Right there.


I acknowledged before that violence is a universal human obsession, but I just get this sense that American culture in particular is at least somewhat more obsessed with violence than other cultures. I mean, why else do they still have the death penalty, or laws that allow people to carry concealed weapons in public?

Thinking about it now, I think this is the same burning question Micheal Moore had when he made "Bowling for Columbine". I've seen that documentary a few times, though I honestly can't remember the conclusion he came to, if any.



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13 Aug 2014, 11:15 am

The United States was built economically through slavery, and geopolitically through war. No other surviving Nation has become so successful through sheer brutality. Our preoccupation with all things violent is likely an inheritance of our bloody past.

I must disagree with you're negative view of gun ownership though. Private gun ownership is a necessary check on the power of government.



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13 Aug 2014, 11:19 am

LOL

Reminds me of the cabby in Montreal who was angrily insistent Montreal had much more violent gangsters than the United States.

And I don't think it's violence you see but instead imagined terror. It's not real. Like zombies or the undead, it's something to get frightened about and NOT get hurt. It's JUST entertainment (gross but still entertainment). Same X-box games in the U.S. as Canada.

After all it's Bosnia (et al) where the bodies fill the trenches and not Indiana.

It's Mexico where they string heads like popcorn on a Xmas tree, NOT the U.S.

Remember?



AspE
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13 Aug 2014, 11:25 am

It might have to do with either the settling of the American West. Or the Civil War. Maybe a little of both.



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13 Aug 2014, 1:23 pm

Coolguy wrote:
The United States was built economically through slavery, and geopolitically through war. No other surviving Nation has become so successful through sheer brutality. Our preoccupation with all things violent is likely an inheritance of our bloody past.

I must disagree with you're negative view of gun ownership though. Private gun ownership is a necessary check on the power of government.


Chomping on the bit about guns as a check to government power... Promised not to respond and restart the forever war of words... God help me... :x


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naturalplastic
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13 Aug 2014, 1:41 pm

mr_bigmouth_502 wrote:
naturalplastic wrote:
Hollywood's biggest export to the rest of the World is: Sylvester Stallone as Rambo.

We Americans may have concocted Rambo. But the movie goers of the world cant get enough of him. Terrorist fighters in the Middle East take time off from firing real automatic weapons in real combat to stand in line at local cinemas to watch stallone wield replica weapons in fantasy combat. So the whole human race must be rather obsessed with violence. Go figure.


Tequila wrote:
Why are people so obsessed with violence?

There you go. Right there.


I acknowledged before that violence is a universal human obsession, but I just get this sense that American culture in particular is at least somewhat more obsessed with violence than other cultures. I mean, why else do they still have the death penalty, or laws that allow people to carry concealed weapons in public?

Thinking about it now, I think this is the same burning question Micheal Moore had when he made "Bowling for Columbine". I've seen that documentary a few times, though I honestly can't remember the conclusion he came to, if any.


Basically- he had no conclusion.

He went through all of the cliche truisms, and disposed of them.

We no longer have prayer in schools: Most industrialized countries are less religious than the USA, but also have less gun violence.

Our violent history: Canada is probably an exception, but most countries have had violent histories. Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Japan, all had histories soaked in blood. But they all have less gun violence than the USA.

And he similarly disposed of other arguments.

He concluded with a summit with Charlton Heston on the subject. And the two together couldnt even figure it out.



khaoz
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13 Aug 2014, 1:47 pm

ZenDen wrote:
LOL

Reminds me of the cabby in Montreal who was angrily insistent Montreal had much more violent gangsters than the United States.

And I don't think it's violence you see but instead imagined terror. It's not real. Like zombies or the undead, it's something to get frightened about and NOT get hurt. It's JUST entertainment (gross but still entertainment). Same X-box games in the U.S. as Canada.

After all it's Bosnia (et al) where the bodies fill the trenches and not Indiana.

It's Mexico where they string heads like popcorn on a Xmas tree, NOT the U.S.

Remember?



Images of violence and sounds of violence are no different than what you are speaking of. Violence scars the soul more than it does the body.



Humanaut
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13 Aug 2014, 5:08 pm

mr_bigmouth_502 wrote:
I just get this sense that American culture in particular is at least somewhat more obsessed with violence than other cultures.

Cultural characteristics will leave relevant statistical fingerprints.



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13 Aug 2014, 6:40 pm

Well when you watch the news they mostly talk about violent things that have happened, or bad things in general as a rule, and if its something like a mass shooting the media will go on about it for weeks on end. Also not sure what the rate of violent crime is in the U.S is compared to Canada, I am thinking if its higher here that combined with the way the media drags it out could play a big role giving people more exposure to violence.

I don't really have an issue with violent entertainment/song lyrics, books, movies ect since violence does exist and therefore there will be music,, books and movies about it and much of the time its not really in support of it like if you watch interviews with death metal bands a lot of times they are pretty laid back not people that would go and kill anyone and then eat the corpse though death metal is not limited to the U.S of course....also it would be really hard to have the plot line of Game of Thrones without including violence and that is a damn good book turned into a show.

Though I admit I am pretty disappointed with a lot of newer movies, have probably watched more older ones I didn't see than new ones the past couple years. A lot do have way over the top violence and then replace acting with special effects and what not, but I certainly don't think there is any organized consipiracy to brainwash the citizens with violent movies, since I am pretty sure there would be a lot less people making and acting in movies since I imagine it would interfere with the creativity involved in thinking of an idea for a movie, putting it together and getting it out there.


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13 Aug 2014, 8:32 pm

khaoz wrote:
Christianity breeds violence.

Was it the Presbyterians that flew airliners into the twin towers?
Was it the Methodists that bombed the USS Cole?

Quote:
Shoving the culture of guilt and shame in our face 24/7 creates resentment and hostility. People grow wearly of that and seek ways to outlet the frustrationn

I certainly don't have any guilt or shame about being an American. I don't think most others would either without an actual reason.


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