Design Response

Argumentitive Essay

Our Fascination With Violence

"We belong to an innately violent species," argues Harold Schechter, an American researcher in criminal psychology. He added, "One of the things that are astonishing to me when I look at all this violent entertainment is that we are the only species that has managed to turn seriously destructive instinctual impulses into play." Indeed, from the Romans' crucifixions to the French Revolution guillotines, museums' torture dioramas to P.T. Barnum's Sideshows, people have flocked to spectacles of gore and suffering. Many have perceived the success of the motion picture is partly due to its delivery of realistic violence. Interestingly, the most widely received record of cinema history's first special effect is the simulation of the Queen of Scots' beheading in an 1895 feature film. Cinema history also suggests that as early as 1903, special effects in Hollywood movies use real animals when it comes to violent scenes involving animals' death. Crime fiction literature, from the penny dreadfuls to today's bestsellers, has always been a successful venture. Like Poe's stories, even literary classics continue to enthrall because they speak to the violent imagination. Though the forms of these pastimes may appear to be different, they all share one thing in common: violence.

Schechter claims that violent entertainment is popular because it is natural to indulge in taboo fantasies and escape into realms of forbidden experience. Many would relate to this  but couldn’t help to wonder why. The truth behind why human-beings take great pleasure in seeing others get harmed has fascinated researchers and long been a mystery. Though we have not yet landed on one specific conclusion that is universally agreed upon, some credible studies provide hints. In psychology studies, violence and aggression were conventionally associated with and driven by negative emotions. We assume that aggressive thoughts are triggered by being enraged or being endangered. Research shows that while accurate, that concept is incomplete. One study conducted by David Chester, Phd,  from Virginia Commonwealth University, has found that aggressive thoughts have a profound correlation with positive emotions. Aggression signals pleasure to our brain. Categorized as a hedonic reward, this pleasure is a potent motivating force for someone to commit or consume violent acts. In other words, aggressive behavior can be reinforced by positive feelings of power and dominance.

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