This morning, I was thinking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer
. In particular, I was thinking about Willow.
I've always liked Willow. Perhaps it's because I've always empathized with her, the nerd who just wants to be loved. Perhaps it's because I think she's cute. (I'm quite certain it's not
because like me, she's not heterosexual; I liked her and watched the show before I realized that fact about myself.) Irregardless, this means that I was quite interested by Willow's recent storyline in the last four episodes of Buffy
(Briefly put, Willow's lover Tara was accidentally shot by evil-nerd-villain Warren, she overdosed on magic and took a gory bloody revenge upon Warren that at least fertilized the forest, and then she went completely out of control, attacked her friends, and tried to destroy the world before Xander convinced her not to do something so apocalyptically evil.)
Anyway, I like Episode 20, "Villains"--the episode where Willow, where wreaks her bloody revenge. It's a painful episode, to be sure; quite apart from the fact that I also like and empathized with Tara, the reactions of the other characters to Tara's murder and Willow's burning desire for vengeance were painful to watch. But then, "Villains" was a very well-written and -acted episode.
It also helped that Warren met a painful death at Willow's hands; as the Sunnyside Slayers wrote
)wrote in their synopsis of the previous episode, "Seeing Red," "Warren needs to die". He killed Tara, he killed his girlfriend Katrina after she tried to escape when he took over her mind and was about to make her a living sex toy (this after she left him because Warren built a sexbot), he tried to kill Buffy, tormented Buffy for no reason other than his sick ego, and, well, he did
really need to die. Preferably painfully, and gorily, both of which he definitely achieved.
, and here
for the JPEGs, videocaptures from Buffyworld
. Willow shot him in slow motion with the bullet she extracted from Buffy's chest, ripped his skin off, and set him on fire. Yes, she was pissed.)
This doesn't mean that I think that killing Warren was a good
thing for Willow to do, never mind that I see killing Warren after what he did as morally irrelevant. Killing Warren did definitely push Willow over the edge, made Willow go after Warren's ridiculous but non-culpable associates Jonathan and Andrew, made Willow decide to go after her friends when they tried to stop her from torturing her to death, and made her responsible for the destruction of a human life. The Puritan objection to bear-baiting holds, here: Killing Warren was wrong largely (if not entirely) not because of what it did to Warren, but because of what it did to Willow.
Still, I don't mind
I also didn't mind the bloody and super-violent revenge that the title character in Brandon Lee's movie The Crow
took upon the thugs and other assorted psycho killers who'd murdered him, raped and tortured and (ultimately, after days of agony in hospital) murdered his girlfriend, and were generally evil and corrupt figures. The Crow's nemeses were evil people who deserved to die. The Puritan objection to cruelty doesn't really hold, here, since he was brought back for the express purpose of inflicting pain and death upon the people who had senselessly hurt him and the woman he loved. I quite liked the movie, actually.
Which brings me to my point. In her excellent A Massive Swelling
, Cintra Wilson wrote about what she called the "cum shot of violence," about how, in modern mass media--visual media, for the main, television and movies--audiences now enthusiastically welcome the violent, painful, and gory destruction of the villain(s) of the piece. Rehabilitation doesn't matter, to these audiences (and to myself); what matters is that the villain(s) be forced to realize that yes, payback time is coming, and it's a bitch, and don't scream too loudly because it's wasted effort since no one will care. (Then again, scream; we'd probably like that.)
Am I alone in wondering if this is a psychologically healthy development? Never mind the morality of this development, but what will this mean for our societies? I shudder to imagine the foreign policies that might be supported by populations conditioned to welcome the gory destruction of Evil Villains. And the potential for domestic affairs, is equally disturbing.
And then, we come back to the whole question of morality. Is this a thing that we shouldn't welcome? Is this a thing that we should work against?
Most importantly: Why don't more people care about this