Advertisement

The Biocultural Evolution of Representing Violence

Chapter
  • 250 Downloads

Abstract

Violence is as much a part of art and entertainment as it is of life — if not even more so. Stories can be used to model the motivations, consequences and moral implications of action. Thus fiction is one of the most important ways by which we both as individuals and communities seek to cope with violence and the fears that it evokes in us. But even as we might genuinely learn something about the brutality and sordidness of real violence from its fictional representations, paradoxically enough, these representations can also serve as a source of pleasure and entertainment.

Keywords

Moral Responsibility Moral Norm Fictional Character Serial Killer Action Film 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Concerning parallels between animal and human aggression, see for example D. Carolien Blanchard, “What Can Animal Aggression Research Tell Us About Human Aggression?” Hormones and Behavior, vol. 44, no. 3, (2003): 171–177. Blanchard summarizes the results of her research: “…there appears to be a systematic relationship between offensive aggression, as investigated in laboratory rodents (and other animals), and angry aggression in people, with the complicating but by no means unanalyzable difference that human cognitive abilities, language, and technology have significantly altered many aspects of the latter. There is no evidence that the emotions and motives associated with angry aggression are importantly different in people than in other mammals, although the cognitive representations of these are undoubtedly more elaborate and differentiated in people” (176).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    René Girard, Violence and the Sacred, trans. Patrick Gregory, (Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press, 1977), p. 15.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Barrie Gunter, Dimensions of Television Violence, (Aldershot: Gower Publishing, 1985), p. 3.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, revised and extended ed., (London and New York: Verso, 2002), p. 6.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    John Fraser, Violence in Arts, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), pp. 22–23.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2003), p. 41.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan, (London: Penguin Books, 1977) pp. 49–50.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Goldberg: “Death Takes a Holiday, Sort Of,” in Jeffrey H. Goldstein (ed.), Why We Watch: The Attractions of Violent Entertainment, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) p. 28.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Cantor, “Children’s Attraction to Violent Television Programming.” in Goldstein, Why We Watch, p. 113. Nico Frida connects the liking of strong sensations to being able to manage them. Some people are simply bored when the stimuli available to them is too easy to handle. (Nico H. Frida, The Emotions, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 349.)Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    Patricia S. Greenspan, Emotions and Reasons: An Inquiry into Emotional Justification, (New York and London: Routledge, 1988), pp. 32–33.Google Scholar
  11. 24.
    See Rikke Schubart’s article, “Monstrous Appetites and Positive Emotions in True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, and The Walking Dead,” Projections, vol. 7, no. 3, (2013): 43–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 25.
    Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011), p. 308.Google Scholar
  13. 27.
    See William Brown’s article “Violence in Extreme Cinema and the Ethics of Spectatorship,” Projections, vol. 7, no. 3, (2013): 25–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 28.
    Merlin Donald, A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness, (New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001), p. 265.Google Scholar
  15. 30.
    Hannu Lauerma, Pahuuden anatomia: pahuus, hulluus, poikkeavuus, (Helsinki: Edita, 2009), p. 28. Quotations from this book have been translated by the present writer.Google Scholar
  16. 31.
    William Flesch, Comeuppance: Costly Signalling, Altruistic Punishment, and Other Biological Components of Fiction, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007), pp, 21–22.Google Scholar
  17. 35.
    The notion of off-line reaction here refers to the way we conceive of fictional characters and events on the basis of the same cognitive mechanisms which allow us to make sense of real people. The processes may be analogous enough to cause similar physical reactions. Cognitive research has been able to demonstrate that performing a certain action, imagining it or seeing others perform that action, activate the same areas of the brain. (Shaun Gallagher, How the Body Shapes the Mind, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), p. 202.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 40.
    Murray Smith, “Gangsters, Cannibals, Aesthetes, or Apparently Perverse Allegiances,” in Passionate Views: Film, Cognition, and Emotion, eds. Carl Plantinga and Greg M. Smith, (Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press, 1999), p. 234.Google Scholar
  19. 41.
    Torben Grodal, Embodied Visions: Evolution, Emotion, Culture, and Film, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 45.
    Stephen Prince (ed.), Screening Violence, (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2000), pp. 30–31.Google Scholar
  21. 46.
    Annette Hill, Shocking Entertainment Viewer Response to Violent Movies, (Luton: University of Luton Press, 1997), p. 30.Google Scholar
  22. 49.
    Murray Smith, Engaging Characters: Fiction, Emotion, and the Cinema, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995), p. 3.Google Scholar
  23. 50.
    Torben Grodal, Moving Pictures: A New Theory of Film Genres, Feeling, and Cognition, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), p. 85Google Scholar
  24. 51.
    Gerrard Jones, Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, (New York: Basic Books, 2002), p. 73.Google Scholar
  25. 54.
    Wendy Lesser, Pictures at an Execution, (Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 1993),. The line of thought derives from Freud, who “insisted that only people who had never failed an exam, never missed a train, would use these plots for their anxiety dreams; otherwise the relief on waking would be incomplete.” (pp. 67–68)Google Scholar
  26. 55.
    Howard Sklar, The Art of Sympathy: Forms of Moral and Emotional Persuasion in Fiction, (Helsinki: Helsinki University Publishing House, 2008), p. 68.Google Scholar
  27. 65.
    Robert B. Ray, A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema, 1930–1980, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), p. 58.Google Scholar
  28. 67.
    Quoted in Richard Hutson’s article “‘One Hang, We All Hang’: High Plains Drifter” in Leonard Engel (ed.), Clint Eastwood, Actor and Director: New Perspectives, (Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press, 2007), p. 101. Originally quoted in Randy Roberts and James S. Olson, John Wayne: American, p. 349.Google Scholar
  29. 68.
    Lee Clark Mitchell: “Violence in the Film Western,” in David J. Slocum (ed.), Violence and American Cinema, (New York and London: Routledge, 2001) p. 179.Google Scholar
  30. 71.
    Daniel O’Brien, Clint Eastwood: Film-Maker, (London: Batsford, 1996) p. 13.Google Scholar
  31. 75.
    Laurent Bouzereau, Ultra Violent Movies: From Sam Peckinpah to Quentin Tarantino, (Secaucus: Citadel Press, 1996), pp. 140–141.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Henry Bacon 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of HelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations