tbV and i were watching ‘The Big Fat Anniversary Quiz of the Year’ last night as we had some internet to use up before the end of the month [and it all got eaten by the Invisible Internet-Data-Eating Monster] when suddenly Russel Brand and Noel Fielding [in top form in terms of doing fairly little resembling traditional quiz participation] had this moment where they caught a fly, who they named Chris, and then released it. They claimed it should be worth 10 points, but the host Jimmy Carr, feeling sorry for them i imagine, only gave them a single point.
And suddenly i got very sad. Because it flashed me back just a couple of hours ago where i had inadvertently become a murderer of the animal kind.
i was driving home from an afternoon of board game playing with my brother-in-law Carl [cos clearly being at his all day birthday board game playing event the day before and staying til 4.30am hadn’t been enough] and this squirrel suddenly ran out into the road too close for me to do anything about.
There was a brief moment when he looked like he saw me and was going to stop and then he suddenly changed his mind and ran and there was nothing i could do and it was the sickest feeling as the car drove over him, killing him instantly.
i didn’t even have time to give him a name. And while those who know me may know that i am not the hugest animal person in the world, and while seeing roadkill in the streets before has given me a brief ‘oh, that’s sad’ kind of feeling before life returns to normal, actually killing one of the little critters was quite a horrific thing.
Which on many levels is good. [That my response was to be horrified i mean]
And then waking up to the news that Horror specialist Wes Craven had died. And realising as i was writing this how these things are connected.
Wes Craven, as you may know, directed the movie Scream back in the day, which, back in the day, i watched and enjoyed [or enjoyed the experience of watching at least]. i have never been a Horror movie fan and yet for some reason the Scream movies appealed to me [possibly the ‘who is the killer’ mystery vibe appealing to my curiosity].
And then suddenly i couldn’t. i can’t remember there being a specific event or moment that changed things, but i do think it might have had to do with the idea that the gratuitous kind of violence that happens in slasher movies [I know what you did last Summer being another franchise i enjoyed back then] was something that happened in real life. And that it wasn’t entertaining at all. And how could i be entertained by scenes of the kind of violence that happens all around us in the world today.
BUT IT’S JUST A MOVIE, BRETT
Well yes, but also no. Because i noticed in myself the desensitisation that started to occur. Because i have watched twenty people ‘die’ in a movie, the news that someone was killed in a car accident actually doesn’t seem like such a big deal cos ‘only one person’ right? And also just seeing those kinds of ‘deaths’ again and again and again takes the shock and the edge off of it and in some ways makes it seem normal and okay.
May it never be normal and okay.
So it was the idea of being entertained by graphic violence as well as the desensitisation that really got to me. And so, i stopped watching those types of movies. And have noticed and increased and gradual sensitivity growing in me over the years since then, which i am really grateful for.
i spoke about this a little while ago using two incredible Pearls before Swine strips that really bring the point home well. When it comes to insects and any form of life really, if i don’t need to kill it, or if there is an opportunity to preserve life, then choose that route. It features to some extent in tbV and my attempt to reduce our meat consumption by fifty percent, by having meat free weeks every second week.
Yes, there is still some hypocracy evident in some of the movies i choose to watch [how is a James Bond ‘death’ any better than a Scream ‘death’ for example] and in the decisions we make about what we do make, but we are on a journey and we are trying to get better at it, and i think that’s a good thing.
i think if i had had enough time to name the squirrel i killed, it would have been Fred. i don’t know how to determine squirrel gender [and it feels highly inappropriate in this post to suggest you could maybe do it by looking at their nuts] so i’m just assuming he was a dude. Because for some reason that feels a lot better to me than if i had killed a lady squirrel.
It was not intentional, i don’t think it could have been avoided and it was a complete accident. But it still felt quite shitty and i don’t even say that.
The taking of a life, any life, when i had no real choice about it, also makes me pause for a moment and consider the taking of lives when we can and do have a choice about it. i’m thinking the death penalty, i’m considering abortion, i’m thinking of war, and also euthenasia. And perhaps even taking it a step further to say that the violence that erupts as the norm when we allow the kind of disparity between rich and poor that we see in our country today, without doing enough about it.
We tend toward violence. And so any moment when i can reduce the practice or celebration or glorifying or condoning of it in my life and maybe even in the lives of those around me, the better.
These are important things to think about. And they are even more important to act on.
Where are you in your thinking of any of these things at the moment? Please share some thoughts in the comments section… but play nice.