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Violence as entertainment

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  • Violence as entertainment

    this is a paper I just wrote for Theater discussing the spectacles of the Roman Collosseum and censorship. I was hoping to get a little feedback before I hand it in...please critique and criticize!!! Thanks, guys!

    The Prompt was; The theater of the late Roman Empire crossed a line that many consider unacceptable. The nudity, sex, and violence reached proportions that, although popular at the time, most look back at with discomfort and disgust. For you, did it cross a line? If so, examine that line. Who drew it, you or someone else? Does that line move in certain situations? In other words, using the Roman Theater as an example, examine the moral, ethical, or other standards you use to judge entertainment.



    Violent Entertainment
    Garland Hummel
    Of the many images one can conjure if asked to think about the Roman Empire would be the Colosseum, a towering monument to violent spectacle and persecution in ancient Rome. The theater of the late Roman empire sometimes took place inside those walls, with the actors being executed as the plot of the play revealed their death, the lighting provided by naked, oil smeared corpses set ablaze to set the ambiance.
    Why would this be popular entertainment? Live sex acts in the street, murders in the colosseum, gladiatorial combat which entailed mutilation or death all drawing huge crowds of hedonistic voyeurs standing erect with their full attention devoted to the barbarous carnal feast set before them. The penetration of raptured flesh, the smell of blood and death, muffled screams of slaves or criminals drowned out by excited cheers and laughter.
    The ancient Roman world was not the one we live in today. Violence was the main way in which disputes were resolved amongst the masses, expansion and imperialism were the objectives of the government. (wait a minute...maybe it isn’t so different?) In many cases, the public spectacles put on were a way to keep the masses entertained. Death was something that one would face every day. Death was a way of life, and surrounded the ancient Romans in a such a way, that perhaps seeing it performed for them may have lessened the fear of their own deaths. Anything one can speculate about the morality and ethical standards of ancient Rome would be based sheerly upon assumptions.
    To look down upon the Romans for their actions would be to deny something inherent in all human beings. St. Augustine, one of the most staunch and oral critics of the Romans’ violent displays said himself that one could not help but get caught up in them, and he himself attended the Colosseum many times.
    As for morality as a whole, who’s to say what is right or wrong? There are several philosophical theories that explore this idea, and none of them offer a sufficient explanation or understanding of human morality. To put everything under one code of laws would be normative subjectivism...a theory which says that judgments can be true or false, depending on if they reflect the sentiments of the person making the judgments.
    Morality and questions of ethics are not universal truths, and it is far worse to try and deny difference in the world than to be “holier-than-thou”. Society is based upon reciprocity. This would be akin to the Judeo-Christian idea of “do unto others”. When looking at direct situations, one can make decisions based on how others will react to an action...other than that, our values are instilled in us by the institutions in our life, religious or otherwise, that fog and alienate what our baser nature may be.
    The actions of the Roman empire didn’t cross a line with me, because I know that there is no real definitive line to be crossed. If you take a person and stick them in a different culture, much less at a different time, their values will be different, and they will have to adapt in order to survive.
    There is only one true thing that makes an action wrong. The term is “mens rea”, which means, the INTENTION accompanying or preceding the act that makes the act itself wrong. The intention could also be inferred as a lack of attention to the results of one’s action, and how it reflects upon others.
    In terms of censorship, I do find certain things to be distasteful and extremely wrong, but nothing fabricated can offend me (as in movies, plays, television). It is the reality that offends me. Examples are snuff, child pornography, exploitative pornography, and rape videos.
    With the advent of the internet, these things which were essentially urban legends are now prolific and prevalent forms of perversion. These things should be censored and the people behind them should be punished in ways that are too explicit for me to describe in a class paper. What one should wonder is why there is a market for them.
    You may ask me to make a distinction between snuff and the sort of spectacle found in Roman theater. In ancient Rome, you usually had to do something to end up at the end of a blade in the colosseum. Many gladiators were slaves, but some were full Roman citizens who fought for fame and recognition, and the games didn’t always end in death for gladiators. (they were too expensive to train)
    Rape was punishable by death or castration in most circumstances that didn’t involve a class distinction (which is perhaps where the real problem of Rome was), i.e. slaves not being viewed as people, the actions of soldiers pillaging, or members of the aristocracy committing rape to citizens with less status for other reasons outside the actual rape.
    I have no answers, just my own biased, semi-educated opinion on these matters.

  • #2
    all those who are concerned about these issues should take this session without any doubt. This session has been arranged by https://welovebudapest.com/en and we all should thank them. They should continue this.

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