Violence and Art


When I was a teenager, I liked to watch violent films; blood-stained Japanese samurai movies, gory horrors and so forth. I sought out progessively extreme films, until I watched one film in particular that was so depraved and sick that I thought to myself: “OK, I’ve had enough.”

My view on violence in film, and art in general, has changed significantly since then. At first I held a somewhat libertarian position; of course filmmakers should be allowed to make films like this if they wanted to, but I personally wanted nothing to do with them, I wanted to avoid them wholly if possible. I was staunchly against censorship in all its forms. Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that censorship might in certain circumstances be necessary. Filmmakers and other artist should be challenged on their use of excessive, gratuitous violence and sexual content. I realize that this would result in outrage in our decadent age, from artists and audiences alike.

Of course, violence and the aestheticization of violence, has existed for millennia. The passion of Christ, for instance has been a recurring motif in Western art, and many violent Baroque paintings are quite beautiful, in my opinion. But I would argue that this is not the same as what we see in the art world of late.

What we see today, in the popular television series Game of Thrones, for instance, is something approaching fetishization of violence and gore; I get the distinct impression that the creators recieve some sort of sexual gratification from this. I find this quite disturbing. The godfather, so to speak, of this development, might be Hermann Nitsch, an Austrian “performance artist”. He is the embodiment of this to me. His performances feature crucifixions, performers tearing open animal carcasses and playing with their entrails, and huge amounts of blood.


That is not to say that my view on him is wholly negative however. I find him and his performances strangely fascinating, in a morbid sort of way. He is also an excellent musician. He is certainly more interesting than the rest of his ilk and descendents, who are simply self-indulgent hacks. At best.

This sort of figure appear in a much larger scale in the Hollywood mainstream as well, albeit in a less extreme form. Autistes like Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino and the countless dime-a-dozen schlocky horror film directors that populate Hollywood.

This is what we crave; excess in all areas of life. Excess of food, excess of alcohol. Excess of entertainment and excess in entertainment. We live in an age of absolute abundance, and yet we always seem to want more. To consume more, to endulge wildly in food and drink, to party incessantly. To have constant stimuli in the form of social media. To listen to music all the time, almost without pause. And our entertainment naturally reflects this worldview, it feeds it to us; of course it does, they simply give the people what they crave and pay money for.

Take a step back; look up from your phone occasionally and see the world around you, truly see it. Take a walk, without music. Walk in the woods or in the mountains, listen to the music of the birds instead of the music emanating from your earbuds. Lay down in the quiet, and look up at the heavens. Look at the stars, and see the world around you.

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