America’s Porn Addiction

The first snuff film that I ever saw was in March of 2003. I was sitting in my bedroom, in my apartment at Blinn College, when my roommate ran down the hall and yelled, “They’re bombing Baghdad!”

Without thinking, I tuned my TV to the first news channel that I could find. I watched, engrossed, as my country dropped thousands of pounds of ordinance on one of the oldest civilizations in the world. I called my father, and I remember saying something like, “This is horrifying.” I was watching as thousands of years of culture was vaporized by high-yield explosives, and I knew what I was watching.

But, I couldn’t look away.

A bit over a year later, I watched the grainy video of Nicholas Berg – a freelance, radio-tower repairman – being gruesomely beheaded by militants in Iraq. I sat in my father’s office, with headphones in my ears, sitting close to the screen and listening to the man’s gurgling screams as he died painfully.

I was in Ramadi in 2006, and personally witnessed countless gunfights and had who-knows-how-many mortars and rocket-propelled grenades launched at the outpost I lived in. And, we videotaped it. And, we watched it, over and over again. (I still see these videos pop up on my Facebook feed from friends that were there.)

We have an addiction to violence in America that is pornographic in the way that we consume it.

Just yesterday, I began to see alerts from friends on Facebook about an ongoing violent incident in Cleveland. After a breakup, a man went on a killing spree – he went so far as to murder a man on a Facebook live video.

Ever since, I have seen this video on the news. I have heard from people who watched it. And, all I could think about was that moment in my father’s office – over a decade ago – when I watched a man get his head chopped off.

We know what’s on that video, just like I knew what was on the Nick Berg video.

But, we can’t look away.

Last week, many churches put on a “Passion Play”, which is a dramatization of the death of Jesus. Mel Gibson went so far as to put a Passion Play in cinematic form – “The Passion of the Christ.” Even in Christendom, we aren’t content to imagine the horrible way in which our Messiah was killed – we have to see, we have to watch, we can’t look away.

Everywhere you look, this pornographic violence saturates our culture. There is no escaping it. Turn on the news, and you get videos of hard-core police shootings, murderous rampages. Log onto your favorite social media site, and you are inundated with images of beaten and bloodied bodies, videos of people bleeding to death and being shot in the head, of children being gassed and drowning. And, we sit in front of our computer screens consuming this porn, complete with heavy breathing and sweating.

And, if your interests are more soft-core, the news is happy to drown you with images of missiles being launched, of bombs being dropped, of aircraft launching from carriers in a blaze of glory, of naval destroyers speeding towards hostile waters to obliterate our enemies, dear Jesus Christ can we PLEASE look away?

For just a moment, could we refuse to consume? Could we somehow protest violence without constantly viewing it? Could we celebrate our Savior without having to watch a snuff-style re-enactment of His brutal death?

I don’t know. But, dear God, I hope so.

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3 thoughts on “America’s Porn Addiction

  1. If it bleeds, it leads… brotha! Or so goes the conventional wisdom.

    Man, I am so thrilled to see you posting again. That, by far, is my biggest reaction.

    Personally, I think your post is sniffing at the door of idolatry. I did not get this on my own, I got it from N.T. Wright – British Bible Scholar. He describes the three great gods of modernity are Money, Sex, and Power which correspond to the ancient gods Mammon, Aphrodite, and Mars (Mars was the Roman god of war). And American culture seems to have inherited sooooooo much from Rome.

    You also used the word “consume”, which I think it important. We are a nation of consumers. And while humanity must consume, we are glutted with consumerism. And of course consumerism is the liturgy that honors these three great gods.

    I am over simplifying matters, I am sure, but this is the general lens through which I look at such things. There is a bloodlust alright, and it is all tangled up in our fears and appetites, and a strange notion that we should be informed.

    I would note, though, that executions of criminals in or society is done behind closed doors. Not sure what to say about that. It would seem to be an anomaly for your observation here, but I really get NO SENSE that it makes a case against your observations. But I still don’t know how to account for that.

    The other caveat I would note is that St Paul, at least, publically portrays the Messiah crucified before the Galatians and uses the word CROSS on nearly every page he writes. This would seem to make LOOKING there an important part of Christian faith and worship. But of course in the looking there is the discerning, hopefully, that the one bleeding is our king and not actually a victim under the thumb of another.

    Be that as it may, it is my understanding that Roman crucifixion was designed to highlight the shame and agony of the condemned. It was intended to be a billboard display for Rome’s subject peoples which said, in effect, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO THOSE WHO F*CK WITH CAESAR! Jesus took that message and turned it on its head. But as far as Roman society was concerned, polite Romans – the same people who went to gladiator games and so forth – found the sight of this kind of execution to be repulsive and even avoided the word “cross” in polite company. So, actually, our American aversion to public execution has roots in that other blood thirsty culture too, really. And they are the ones that invented the thing.

    I will let you sort that out. And maybe I am just off base. But I still think your post holds water. I think we have waaaaaaaay too much appetite for violence in our sex, on TV and movies, and in our video games. Enough is enough. We really need to find a better form of entertainment. One that leads to peace.

  2. Our bodies are a sacred place…a holy temple. I am dealing with anything that doesn’t belong there. We visually know too much. What so ever things are just and pure etc. think on these things. Takes just a little more effort.

  3. I haven’t heard from you in a long while… This being memorial day and all, I was wondering about you. Wondering your thoughts on this day. Was having my own, and then figured yours would be more appropriate/better than mine.

    You there?

    I care…

    X

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