Violence promoted by superhero dialogue and a possible alternative


Violence is promoted and permitted in the dialogue of superhero. As we awe their stories, we embrace their violence as a heroic action. The superhero story typically divide the ‘good’ side and the ‘bad’ side then eventually the good side wins over the bad one. To protect what is perceived ‘good’, violence is constantly presented to eradicate the ‘bad’ side. But there is no divine definition of what separates good from bad, yet even this morality standard has been a main philosophical debate over centuries without a fine conclusion. Jumping into a conclusion to say that there would be a correlation with gun violence in the United States and superhero dialogues would be disgraceful, yet the implication of superhero dialogues which implies to justify violence is vividly found in such public violence. Violence is allowed to eradicate the ‘bad’ side.

Let’s take a look a recent one on the screen: Avengers (2012). Superheros such as Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Iron man and whatever superhero there is, confront aliens (or robots) who endanger humanity. Thor basically hammered all others who got in his way, Hulk smashed, Iron man shot, and the modern consumers of such ideology worship their violence because ‘their violence is for a good cause’. No matter which superhero dialogues to present, it can only be sold when the counterpart is dehumanised to be punished, and the justice has been deformed as the tool to punish the ‘bad’ one and to compensate the ‘good’ one. But who decide the good side and the bad side?

This artificial division of good and evil has become the source of human tragedy, hasn’t it? Metaphorically even in the Bible when Adam and Eve could distinguish the good and the evil they were vanished from the paradise. In modern history, blaming the counterpart and dehumanising them eased to proceed any kind of bombardment in the warzone, yet with relief from their moral superiority than with guilt of such violence. The psychology of victimisation lays here, when it is considered that victims are generally the innocent ones who are hurt by an evil character which normally is dehumanised for the innocents to feel better. When it comes to the mass shooting, the victimisation of those who are murdered eases the separation of the good and the evil, stamping the shooter as the source of violence. When the violence is an individual level it is easier for the juridical system to punish and to compensate, yet the violence is communal there is not much approach that this system can make. In this sense, we tend to label ‘good’ when it is easy to label victim. If the victimisation of the shooter as the sufferer of groupal bullying and social pressure is acknowledged, the approach to solve the violence would be completely different. We already witnessed that both sides suffer from violence, either the good or the bad as we label, in the story of human tragedy described by Shakespeare, such as Romeo and Juliet for example. When there is violence, we are to understand that both sides play the cause and pay the outcome from the same violence. Yet we haven’t learnt to take efforts for empathy and compassion, rather we easy up compensation of guilty and moral superiority, in which superhero dialogues have served us to relive our moral mediocrity.

So, even with important missing links, gun violence is the psychological product of Hollywood superhero dialogues, I would dictate. My purpose is not interrupt to a domestic politics of other nations, but I’d argue that the prohibition of gun arms won’t easy the mass attack on public places, sine the mentality remains same: victimes who think they are the ‘good’ side trying to eradicate the ‘bad’ ones with a heroic action will use whatever tool they can find on their way; chainsaw, knife, bomb or acide to name some possibilities. The public should acknowledge the inclusion policy for those who are marginalised from the centre society, to eradicate the misunderstanding that they have put to the shooter that his or her world needs such violence. Violence only calls another violence, and by this mean, the gun violence from a shooter is only a reflection of societal violence that the society imposed to the shooter to play victim or hero by his or her own perspective. End the superhero dialogue and open the nonviolent communication for the empathy. I’m afraid that current gun-related dialogue is to disguise other social issues, even though the gun prohibition is an important debate, it doesn’t touch the root of such violence that leads to mass killing in public places in other ways. I’m afraid that this becomes a political repertory that will surge few years later as in a same structure but substituting gun to another object. Eradicating the source of violence should be the main political debate of the society. What rooted such violence? Would it be bullying or other psychological pressure? The superhero’s violence that is based on the dehumanised counterpart works in complex reality?

But if we say that the superhero dialogues has imposed such violence, it also acknowledges that Hollywood stories have importance in shaping the public minds. I’d like to see a Hollywood which promotes alternative stories like the one of Kirikou and the Sorcereses, for example. In this story, it reveals that an ‘evil’ entity entitles the misunderstanding to get benefits from others’ fear and hate. No dehumanised counterpart is presented as the traditional wisdom acknowledges that no one was evil as the true nature. The witch in the story was also suffering from her own fury and at the end of the movie, the public realises the wisdom of understanding. Why don’t we have such type of dialogues more on the screen?

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