538 – Hunting the Hunter: 05


When I was thirteen, I and my best friend at the time went to the theater to see Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. It was a great time, and being that it was summer, when we got back we decided to go swimming in the pool. There followed a series of titanic Godzilla-themed battles with much splashing and radioactive blasts from the garden hose.

But I’ve been thinking recently that while it seemed at the time like we were having a grand afternoon, that in truth we were engaging in a violent, movie-inspired activity that not only makes the point of the anti-violence in entertainment advocates, but which must have scarred me for life in some way. (It was a violence-fueled Japanese movie… how else would explain my love of something so blatantly anti-American as sushi?)

It was then that I realized, the people that the anti-violence in entertainment crowd are worried about can’t be the Trench Coat Mafia types… people who are already seriously unbalanced by upbringing or chemical imbalance or substance abuse… people who would probably end up in a Wal-Mart parking lot with an automatic rifle no matter what they had seen on TV the night before. It can’t be these folks, because they’re already crazy. No, the only people to worry over here are normal, average folks. People humming along in a happy, sober life, with no more than the average amount of stress, pressure, and beer.

Anti-violence in entertainment advocates state as fact that violent entertainment causes violence in real people’s lives. Now since they are talking average people, (not exceptional people, who are above the influence, or crazy people, who would be violent anyway) we can assume that we are discussing at least 51% of the population, at large. But how do I prove that to you?

The Monday Question:

Tell us, gentle reader, of an occasion when your violent entertainment clouded your brain, and forced you do harm to someone else. It could be D&D, a Bruce Willis movie, a violent video game, or even a webcomic. I showed you mine, now show me yours!

39 Responses to 538 – Hunting the Hunter: 05

  1. When I was about eleven or so and Street Fighter 2 was all the rage at the arcade (and they still had arcades in every mall) me and the kids in the neighborhood used to pretend to be the characters from Street Fighter 2 and have mock fights in the side yard, as the side yard was more side-scrolly. I had an old volleyball that we would use as a Hadouken fireball and throw at each other. Also I can recall that in sixth grade we learned about medieval times, which kicked off my love of swords and bows and castles and ultimately led to me playing D&D. Anyway we would go out and have sword fights using our arms as swords, since we were at school and thus had no props to use as swords on the playground. I don’t know if that counts cause school doesn’t really count as “entertainment” but it was a violent act spurred by what I found to be entertaining, which was anything related to the dark ages.

      • It went from arms to sticks to plastic swords to sticks to me and my buddy Jake making really nice wooden swords out of those marker sticks the guys who build houses and shit use. They hate it when you pull those out and use them as swords by the way. I still have a scar on my knuckle from my friend Travis smashing my hand with his “sword” in Jake’s backyard. So yeah, I’ve been scarred for life.

  2. Me and my friends used to gather regularly, take breaks from our D&D games to slug it out with each other using non-padded sticks boards as weapons.

  3. Anyone who claims that modern society is somehow more violent that people used to treat each other (and animals) in, say, 1950, or in 1600 A.D. , or in 1200 A.D. (Crusades, anyone?) is seriously deluding themselves. The way we perceive violence has shifted. And some forms of violence have changed. And other ideas, too. Read Freedom in the Ancient World by Herbert Joseph Müller, to get an idea of how different the views regarding such concepts as “freedom” and “individuality” were in ancient times. These concepts are inventions of modern times, from the Renaissance or Age of Enlightenment onwards. (I’m focussing on Western Society here, to keep things simple.) Women’s rights, child psychology (the acknowledgement that children think and feel differently and are not simply small adults), abolition of slavery, the concept of privacy, heck the concept of unalienable human rights, the idea of animal rights, the Geneva Conventions… two steps forward, one step back, but we have moved.

    A lot of behaviour that was common place in earlier centuries, heck, earlier decades, would today be viewed with antipathy or revulsion by many people. The Age of Enlightenment started a process in society that would demand ever stronger “impuls control” from its members. Instead of social norms and social pressure controlling people’s behaviour this control was internalized. Freudians would say the super-ego was supposed to take control over the ID. Not coincidentally, at the same time that science proved that we are related to animals, that we are a species of ape, people tried their damnest to philosophically separate Man and animal. “Animalistic” and “brute” became uncough words.

    But impulses and violence are part of human nature and do not go away. The fewer socially accepted outlets there are, the more we notice violence if it erupts, and when it erupts it’s often far more devastating because there are no social rituals to deal with it anymore, to keep it in check. Decades ago, young men could have a brawl in front of a local pub after a few too many drinks, and still go home as friends. Today, police arrests someone for assault and battery for a slap in the face… while at the same time some school kids kick and beat someone to death and film it on video.

    When I was in elementary school, I (physically a girl, but at that age girls are ofte larger and stronger than the boys) ran with the boys, and every day we’re assemble in the schoolyard and start brawling and scuffling merely for the fun of testing each other’s strength. The idea of jumping up and down on the head of someone lying on the ground until he bled would never have occurred to us. 😥 But those were different, less frustrated times….

  4. About today’s comic strip:
    Sorry to day, but the proportions still look off, especially Bunker’s in the 3rd panel. And ever since you swtiched to pencils, Kevin, the panels feel crammed and claustrophobic. As if there’s less room for the characters. Perhaps you’re drawing them bigger since pencils do not allow fine lines as inking does? I don’t know. 🙁

    • Clearly your psyche must be scarred from all those ultra-violent history texts you’ve read, and that’s why you’re lashing out so now. May I suggest a hot bath and a nice lie-down?

      (If you’re telling me that the proportions are still off after three and a half years of drawing this strip… yeah, I know. Apparently it’s not something I do well. We can talk about that if you like. 😉 As for the “crammed” look, I am able to draw the characters much more to fit the boxes now than I was before. That is actually the look I was going for… though I had it in my head as “full” rather than “claustrophobic.” 😆 In any case, it’s still a work in progress — as I suspect it will always be — and hopefully you will feel that things improve over time. One thing I definitely want to do is start drawing bigger… but I need to use up my old/smaller paper first.)

      • I think Christina’s comment may have been due to the back of Bunker’s neck in the third panel. It flows into his head, making it look like his neck is actually wider than his head. In the colour version, I think we got better contrast between neck and head, which helped the distiction. Jumping back a few in the archive, say strip 511, makes for a good illustration of the sudden shift in how you draw Bunker.

        I miss the colour, but it’s the storyline that keeps me coming back for more. Keep it up!

  5. Well, actually, I do it the other way around: When I feel bad, I like to play a violent video game or see a kick-ass movie, it helps me vent a frustration I would have to keep for me otherwise.

  6. Guns don’t kill people, kids who watch cheesy Japanese movies about guys in rubber monster suits stomping around on a model city kill people.

    Why isn’t that on a t-shirt?

  7. my grandfather was in wwII and used to tell me about it when i was young as a result i got into war and battle. as i grew up we would play dogfighting on our bikes and pretend to shoot each other down we would also play infantry type scenarios. then i discovered my true passion medevil war and started swordfighting with bamboo sticks and steadily progressed from there into the s.c.a. i discovered d&d when i was 10 years old in 1977.i was spending the night at a friends house we played and i was hooked for life. i dont think i was influenced by the media so much i think the media was a fuel to feed the battlelust that was bred into me by society at the time (when i was young things were very different than they are now i used to watch war era looney tunes on regular tv before they were banned).

  8. For me, it’s racing. I can play racing video games or go drive go-carts where I am horribly aggressive. If I immediately have to go drive a real vehicle, I have to be aware of my driving to keep from acting on my video game instincts and causing a wreck.

    • I’m a bastard at racing games. I’m not really very good, but I will use the PIT maneuver on my opponents. Unlike in real life where if done properly it merely causes the PIT-ed car to spin out and stop, in racing games it usually results in a spectacular end-over-end crash (often taking me with them). 🙂

      Fortunately, I don’t play very many racing games, so I don’t worry too much about carrying my game-play aggression over to the real world.

  9. Come on guys. You’re all acting like you can tell the difference between real violence and fake violence. We can’t all be exceptional. Now be honest.

  10. Well, Kevin “in my day” we all ran around in 4th grade poking each other in the eyes like Moe from the Three Stooges until they banned those damn things for a while. Then, in 2nd grade some idiot kid choked himself to death after tying a towel around his neck and jumping from his bunk bed to “fly” like Superman. Should we ban that show too? Oh my God, what if someone tries to stop a speeding bullet?

    Kids are kids and will act very stupid, it’s how we learn. Do we “ban” hot stoves in our house after we touch the oven after its been on for several hours? No, we LEARN not to touch HOT shit. TV without parenting (and I grew up with NO one watching what I watched at all) is the key. We can point fingers at Godzilla, but where was the adult that was suppose to tell you not to use the hose as radioactive blasts? YOU COULD HAVE DROWNED OR PUT SOMEONE’S EYE OUT! OMG!! Ban all movies.

    This is an age old “crisis” that is not going away. But, even though I get bored and it annoys the hell out of my sons, I WATCH what they watch and MONITOR what they play on the video systems. I’m the parent. Something these idiots in the anti-violence business forget to mention: parents need to take responsibility for their kids.

    Now for my quick story: I shot a friend with a cap gun while we were re-enacting a scene from “Lost In Space” in 1965. He’s fine. The gun was taken away from me by… a parent. 🙂

    • Byron, Byron, Byron. It is not up to the parents to be responsible for their children, it is up to society to sanitize itself so that no one could ever be exposed to something entertaining that will possess your child’s body and cause him to kill a busload of preschoolers or even have sex.

      It’s a slippery slope. One day we are watching something fun and cool, so we try to be fun and cool too, and then the next day we are watching Freddie Kruegar invading the dreams of teenagers and mystically murdering them in their sleep. And no one wants their child doing that.

      Besides, it’s not like all violence needs to be banned. For instance, Sesame Street may be a clear danger to our children, what with Bert smashing flower pots and Oscar bullying the other, less violent puppets, but classy entertainment like The Passion of the Christ is obviously appropriate entertainment for the entire family… as many times as you can watch it without throwing up.

      You see, violence is fine as long as it’s by god, (Old Testament) or against god. (New Testament.) Everything else is evil and destructive. It all makes perfect sense.

  11. I have a funny story regarding something similar to this. So back in college my friends and I would stay up late playing video games because well, we all had class in the afternoon and most of us didn’t really have to study to do well (coaster classes are fun!).

    On one particular night we were playing a James Bond game, the name escapes me but it was for the PS2. Now one particular level of the game you have to drive a motorcycle incredibly fast to escape capture and/or death in a certain amount of time otherwise its game over man. We literally spent over 2 hours playing that specific level, each of us handing the controller over to the other. Either we would crash from some obstacle barring our way to next or we would run out of time. All of us were pretty wired from adrenaline from lack of defeating this level. We finally beat it on hour two and we were wiped (it was fast approaching 5 am). So my friend Danny, said owner of the PS2, place, and a car at the time, called it a night and got ready to drive us home.

    Upon reaching his basement level parking spot, we were still a little jumpy from the 2 hours of grinding away at that particular level. I climbed into the front passenger seat, my friend Chris opened the door behind me and my friend Danny climbed into the driver’s seat. I swear to god this really happened. As my friend Danny got himself settled, Chris was a little slow to get into the car. Danny, since having been on an adrenaline high for the past two hours, put the car in reverse and gunned the engine. Chris still had his door open… What ensued would probably have had the same reaction to all players of this situation, but since it was really late (or early for you working stiffs out there), reactions were extreme.
    My friend Danny, to give you perspective, isn’t very cool-headed and is prone to lose his temper. Chris on the other hand is the exact opposite of Danny, and in fact is prone to pushing people’s buttons to set them off.

    Danny’s passenger side rear door bent completely to the frame, such that I, as the front passenger, was staring at the rear passenger door and had no way of getting out. Danny flipped out on Chris yelling a bunch of explitives (sp?), Chris looked like he was going to die and I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off as the scene reminded me of Tommy Boy (you know the movie with David Spade and Chris Farley). The whole situation was hilarious to all of us, except for Danny. Thankfully Chris, after being freaked out that Danny was going to do god knows what to him and attempting to hold back his laughter, fixed the door and bent it back into its rightful place. After later inspection of the door, the only damage done was that it had a bent frame. Evidently this happens enough that car manufacturers have it built in so that the hinge doesn’t break or bend so easily.

    All in all, this would have never happened had we not been playing a James Bond level and had been spending the past two hours on an adrenaline high, attempting to beat 1 level.

    • There you go! That’s what I’m talking about! That incident could obviously never have taken place if you had been doing anything other than playing a violent videogame!

    • This reminds me of something.
      I went with 2 friends to watch “Die Another Day”. We laughed our asses off, and, thereafter, our friend with the car said he was gonna try a James Bond-like takeoff. We did about 10 meters, and then, bang! Blown tire.

      It was winter, we were alone out there. And then, it started to rain. Crappy movie…

      So, Kevin, in fact, it seems that James Bond is Evil 😉

  12. I must have been playing the wrong violent video games. When I was in school I stood up for the bullied kids and even got into some fights because of it.

    Me and the male friends I had also did the sword fighting with wooden dowels (and later actual wooden training katanas)

  13. I’ve got something really horrible to share: When I was in grade school one day our class went on a field-trip to see a presentation of A Christmas Carol. In the part where Scrooge is on the acid trip of the ghost of Christmas-past an actor came on the stage who was incredibly-huge fat and dressed in ridiculous colours and ribbons for the part of Mr. Fezziwig. After the play we started calling one of the kids in our class who was a bit weird and a bit chubby Fezziwig. We were such savage monsters, and it was all that play’s fault!

  14. –I think I was in 4th or 5th grade: Every day, I’d leave for school 2 or 3 hours early, and a bunch of kids would meet at Chris’ house to play Mortal Kombat 2 and perform Fatalities. We were like junkies. We HAD to have our fix. Obviously my nicotene addiction, and my buddy’s alcohol addiction stem from that. It was our first “fix”.
    –When I was 6, I said my first cuss word. “Ninja kick the damn rabbit”. –Phrase from TMNT. Haven’t really stopped cussing yet. . .It’s like. . .an . . .addiction!?! OMG!!
    –TMNT is responsible for me liking pizza. A greasy, hot food which contributes to, or even causes heart attacks every DAY, and I blatantly support it, pretending it’s “Delicious” or “Cool”.
    –TMNT 2 is responsible for me liking rap (Ninja Rap was hot). Which is why I support eminem, who is obviously a monster, because he’s a rapper, regardless of those songs he put out that have thought or heart or emotion in them about him loving his daughter. pfft.. sounds like something a psychopath would say.
    These are my scars…it’s been a long, dark, lonely road…

  15. Dinosaur books. I loved them as a Kid (say 6-7 yo) and convinced my mates at school and we would have Dinosaur battles and we did regularly. – Tyrannosaur Vs Triceratops was the classic match-up. Later it was Prince Planet, Marine boy and Kung fu.

    Lets face it. Kids need no excuse to wrestle & be violent to each other. Combat in play is instinctual in most animals, and its natural and healthy for Kids. What would really be dangerous would be if you did not go home and act this stuff out. Then you would never understand the real consequence of a violent act and believe what you see on the screen was what really happened. That where it all goes pear shaped.

    • Oh no! Natural impulses are horrible in kids! That leads to fighting in the schoolyard, masturbation, and sex with hobos! Children should be regularly beaten until they understand that violence and the infliction of pain is never the answer!

  16. I have a problem here. Sure, violence is bad, but guns are good, as they allow us to protect America against a return of king georges red tunics (and also to kill Evil Nazi Communo-Islamists Cobra Fanatics), and especially as God wouldn’t have given them to us if they were bad. I don’t know how to solve this conundrum.

    • Guns are fine, and shooting people with guns is fine. It’s only entertainment that shows people shooting each other with fake guns that causes so much destruction and death.

  17. Some friends of mine Loved the Jousting scene in an old Ivanhoe movie so much that they got horses, made armour, shields etc and went at it. First medieval re-enactors in New Zealand.

    They didn’t realise that it was done with cut scenes.

  18. I like to think of myself as not a violent person, when in reality I have only mastered the ability to control my temper and actions. So I like to blast Aliens. No one comes after you with straight jackets about killing invading aliens, in fact they even give medals out.

    Seen any aliens recently? Didn’t think so… I am doing a good job!

  19. My brothers and I would make “swords” out of scrounged broom handles and bicycle handgrips. Then we’d climb to the top of the “castle” (actually a WWII bunker… Germany is so cool 😉 ) and pummel the hell out of each other.

    We realized it was going a little crazy when one of our “friends” brought his bow and arrow out and shot it through the middle of our group. No one was hurt that day, but our “friend” ran home screaming with five broom handle-sword wielding guys chasing after him.

  20. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was violent due to a movie or video game. When I was 15 I discovered Tomiki Aikido. I got to fight all I wanted and call it “training.”
    Personally I’m not a fan of violence as a means of solving anything, and I feel that the first person to resort to violence has already lost the encounter, but there is something very satisfying about throwing someone around like a ragdoll and then letting them return the favor.