I am sitting at the counter, my eyes fixed to the small screen across the kitchen. A bald man, sitting at a news desk appears in the flashing square. His words drift through the room and are filtered into my ears; suicide bomb, Iraq, 5 Americans killed. The station cuts to a scene of dirt roads and destroyed vehicles. A timer goes off, the chicken is finished cooking; time for dinner. I turn off the TV and sit down with my family, already forgetting the news story I have just heard. At the table, my mom begins to describe a film she has just seen; one I had seen the weekend before. She recounts a more violent scene, how it made her feel sick, and so she had left the cinema. I tell them that the scene did not bother me, that it was just part of the story. My parents cannot understand. I sit at the table, the scene from the movie flashes through my head, followed by the news clip I had watched earlier, but I do not feel uneasy or despondent. I begin to wonder, has my generation really become this numbed to the violent world around us? Is violence so rampant around the world we see no fault in it?
News from the war in Iraq arrives on our doorstep in the morning newspaper, it is broadcast to our wandering eyes on the TV, and funneled into our ears on the radio. We have become so accustomed to bad news, to dying soldiers and to suicide bombs that we no longer feel the emotions such events may have provoked at one time. Perhaps my generation is more perceptive to recognizing the differences between film and reality, though this hardly seems plausible with the corruption of the media. Maybe we have just been taught to disregard such images. Ironically, we ignore the violent scenes in movies and TV series, push them out of our heads to see the bigger picture, and understand the true meaning of the film. We treat the scenes in such a cavalier manner that to have any effect, filmmakers only increase the violence. When we become accustomed to such violence, we lose a human quality, the ability to tell right from wrong. We watch movies that trick us into rooting for the bad guy; we listen to news stories and see the death toll as a series of numbers, not people. The violent news stories become acceptable because not only the media, but we as viewers, have allowed such occurrences to be deemed “normal” in movies, which then translates to real life, and life becomes another screen. My generation is surrounded by screens, one after another, an influx of technology glazing our eyes. We have no connection to the victims; they become abstract concepts too aloof to have an impact. We are the children of 911; by dulling our perception of violence, we are able to cope with living in this damaged world.
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