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Thread: Why do we look at images of death and destruction?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    Why do we look at images of death and destruction?

    Gore, war photography, etc. There are various degrees of it, of course, but it's clear that there's a large market for this kind of stuff. We were all fascinated to see planes crashing into the World Trade Center. We revere images of napalmed girls. More importantly, we feel cheated out of something when we learn that certain images were either altered or completely staged.

    Some people may be compelled to argue that such staged or altered images are disrespectful or in bad taste, or simply not "informing us of the horrors of the world" or whatever. I, however, believe that we get upset by fakes because we actually crave to be as close to death as possible. I'm arguing that humans have an innate bloodlust instilled in us through our evolutionary history of bloodshed - killing animals for food, killing other humans who compete with us, etc. Gore, war photography and footage, as well as violent television, film, video games, and even music lyrics all serve as a first-world replacement for the lack of death around us caused by improved medicine, lack of war, and human sacrifice and torture going "out-of-style".

    My guess is that if we had to deal with death on an everyday basis, then all of this media would be "in poor taste". We simply wouldn't care to look.

  2. #2
    dormant jigglypuff's Avatar
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    you've been reading susan sontag, huh.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tele View Post
    you've been reading susan sontag, huh.
    Yep, but the argument I'm making won't be found in anything she has written. People seem reticent to point out that most humans are primally stimulated by this stuff, and that most of the idealistic explanations for it are bullshit.

  4. #4
    a fool on a journey pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    Yeah. Sometimes I get in a mood and go on liveleak and just click through looking for the most disturbing videos I can find. It makes me sweat and my heart race when I see some of that shit. Violence, primarily, just dead bodies don't do much for me. If there's a gruesome scene where you can imagine what happened, the last panicked moments of someone's life, that works. If I go too far with it I can really make myself sick though. More mild is when I go to wikipedia to read about some disturbing thing and end up poring through the details and seeking out firsthand accounts, like I did with the Utoya massacre not long ago. I spent a few hours just reading everything I could, trying to imagine the details, what it might have been like to be there, the feelings of panic but also what it might have been like to be the shooter and whether or not he felt that same thrill, whether he went too far and made himself sick and disgusted before the end of it. I think I remember reading that something like that might have happened with the columbine shooters. After they had shot and killed a bunch of people they just kind of stopped and made a remark about being bored with it or something, and even though they had lots of time to roam around the school and witnesses reported that they approached locked classrooms full of people, looked through the windows and made eye contact with people they didn't try to break in or shoot any more people after that point. Like gorging on candy for the sugar rush to the point where you become nauseated.

  5. #5
    凸(ಠ_ರೃ )凸 stuck's Avatar
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    Curiosity.

  6. #6
    DOA Space Invaders Champion Neville's Avatar
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    Everyone wants to know how the story ends. Can you blame them?




    There's actually a subreddit for this.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/watchpeopledie/

  7. #7
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    I go through periods where i want this kind of stimulation ( visually ) every other week or so ( up to a point ) and other times I am sated or sick of it, at least as packaged in the action movie vehicle. I never enjoyed all of the "Faces of Death" type stuff or Ogrish etc. I can enjoy "the beauty of the grotesque / ugly" but mostly only if it is restricted to people that I know are fictional, especially if they exist as illustrations versus realistic photos videos. It also makes a difference to me if they have already died, versus being in a state of great suffering and clinging to life ( perhaps in a brave but futile way ).

    The exception is if someone has been a major asshole IRL or has threatened me or those who I feel close to / protective towards.
    cute as a bug

  8. #8
    Limber Member floid's Avatar
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    I would say that it is the same as anything viewed as taboo in a society.
    Something that propriety dictates should be swept under the rug creates a stronger than usual urge to look under the rug.

    Concomitantly one would probably find comparatively fewer of paramedics, Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis, and undertakers who, because of their level of saturation, would feel an attraction to view such imagery.

  9. #9
    Senior Member skip's Avatar
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    Culture of death.
    Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that a problem.

  10. #10
    Member mthomps's Avatar
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    I won't look at the stuff. I'm not curious at all about real life gore and violence.

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