Is there anything we can do about violence?

On Sunday afternoon I went with a couple friends to see the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double feature, GrindHouse. Although it isn’t Tarantino’s best work it did not disappoint. By that I mean that it was phenomenally edgy and violent.

During one particularly gruesome scene, with guns blazing and blood splattering, I suddenly became conscious of how excited I was and how much I enjoyed that feeling.

I’m not proud of it, but I like watching violent movies. Not for the sake of violence itself. A movie with nothing but violence would be terribly dull. But violence combined with compelling dialogue, violence that I can believe, now that’s entertainment. The popularity of filmmakers like Tarantino and Rodriguez proves I’m not alone.

The events at Virginia Tech made it shockingly clear that we live in a violent society. The Roman games may no longer exist, but the human craving for violence, action, adrenaline, whatever you want to call it, continues to rage.

Do I think that violent movies or music or video games are to blame for these events?

No, absolutely not.

Hundreds of millions of people see the same violent entertainment and don’t exhibit psychopathic behavior. I’m more inclined to think that a love of violence is a species wide trait that was key to survival for many thousands of years.

So why does it seem like these tragedies always happen in America?

The reason that occurs to me is that this young man had nothing to live for. A person with nothing to live for is capable of anything. Are there more Americans with nothing to live for relative to other cultures? Are we more isolated from each other? More cruel? More competitive?

I don’t know. These events make me realize that I don’t know much of anything. This tragedy has left me very confused and very sad.