So, I’m watching “CSI” last night, and there’s this corpse stuffed into a barrel…
Or maybe it was “Castle” Monday night. There was a body in a barrel there, too. Except that one had been set on fire. No, wait, this one definitely wasn’t on fire. Must have been “CSI.”
Ah, television, you wonderful, macabre house of horrors, you. Not that long ago, I watched an episode of “Bones” where they inflated a head that had been emptied of, well, everything that’s usually found in a head. “Criminal Minds” had this weird episode on where someone was kidnapping girls, drugging them, and dressing them like play dolls. Oh, and I almost forget that old episode of “CSI: Miami” where this lady lined the outside of her, um, feminine area with some sort of insecticide in order to kill her lover. Sad outcome, but the sex was (removes sunglasses) killer. “Yeeeaaahhhh!”
Yep, that’s some quality entertainment right there. Somewhere out there exists written scripts for all this mayhem, penned by someone who puts the word “screenwriter” down under “occupation” on their tax returns. I wonder if those reads are as entertaining as the journals left behind by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, the infamous Columbine High School shooters, or the notebook 24-year-old James Holmes, sent to a psychiatrist prior to shooting up a Colorado theater. These guys were obviously in the wrong line of work.
Killers, as we all know, are crazy. We know this because a great many of them choose to chronicle the dark and twisted thoughts in their minds in journals or diaries. Even if no written evidence exists, we can draw on past psychological treatment or eyewitness accounts to make clear to us that these people are not normal. They should have received some type of treatment for their depraved ways of thinking.
All these assumptions based on what was going on in someone’s mind, in the realm of thought. I don’t know anyone who would like to have their darkest thoughts broadcast for the world to see. They would be shunned at best, locked away in a mental institution at worst … unless they are in the entertainment business.
I would imagine that the number of screenwriters who have gone out and killed someone is probably pretty low, which would seem to render my last comparison fairly useless. Just because an action component is missing, however, the issue of violence, depravity, and societal immorality is not necessarily absent. Just because the writers of “CSI” are not literally going out and killing anyone does not mean they are not actively contributing to a culture of death. It is difficult to argue that life is precious in a society where cadavers stuffed into barrels are nothing more than plot devices.
I doubt this will ever happen, but sometimes I envision a superior society coming along one day and viewing what we’ve left behind as a sort of time capsule. They will have our books, magazines, newspapers, movies, and television shows to judge us by, and they will be horrified by what they find. “These people,” they will say, “were vicious barbarians. What would possess human beings to treat each other so?” In the film “Galaxy Quest,” an alien race discovers a campy science fiction show and considers its heroes to be the best examples of humanity. What would they think about the programs we put before our eyes on a regular basis?
Our journals are being left behind every day, and while killers like Klebold and Harris are rightfully vilified, countless writers churn out fantasies that would make the Manson family blush and are considered to be merely talented scribes. This is a particularly interesting point of view, considering recent comments made by President Barrack Obama concerning mental illness. If those who show signs of dangerous behavior should be treated, what should those signs consist of? Writing scripts rife with murder and mutilation would seem to fit those parameters, but what happens when those thoughts are simply filed under the “entertainment” heading?
I admire the president and anyone else who would want to shine a light of mental issues, but they can no longer turn a blind eye to the fact that the very violence they are trying to combat is the engine that drives the majority of American entertainment. The paper trail is a mile long and growing, and, unlike the bodies on “CSI” and “Castle,” this issue can’t be merely stuffed into a barrel and forgotten about.