Interestingly, there does seem to be some correlation between the release of video games and the decrease of criminal activity , which could point toward either criminals play a lot of video games or new video games help prevent crime for a short duration, but neither conclusion could say fault or credit the piece of entertainment itself. Entertainment can’t pull a trigger or set off a bomb, but a person can if their brain tells them to and if our laws allow them easy access to those tools of destruction. Entertainment, then, is neutral. If that’s true, then consumption of violent media should come down to the individual person doing the consuming and how they respond to it, not tar all consumers with the same brush. Making it harder for people to watch or play with pop culture artifacts that trade in violent imagery is not an answer to curbing real violenc, not when humans were necessarily violent, in order to survive, long before we started telling stories. Unless people starting using their Xboxes and Playstations as murder implements en masse, targeting video games is a pointless exercise in moral posturing.
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As I write any of these stories, I wonder if I am being gratuitous. I want to get it right . How do you get this sort of thing right? How do you write violence authentically without making it exploitative? There are times when I worry I am contributing to the kind of cultural numbness that would allow an article like the one in the Times to be written and published, that allows rape to be such rich fodder for popular culture and entertainment. We cannot separate violence in fiction from violence in the world no matter how hard we try. As Laura Tanner notes in her book Intimate Violence , “the act of reading a representation of violence is defined by the reader’s suspension between the semiotic and the real, between a representation and the material dynamics of violence which it evokes, reflects, or transforms.” She also goes on to say that, “The distance and detachment of a reader who must leave his or her body behind in order to enter imaginatively into the scene of violence make it possible for representations of violence to obscure the material dynamics of bodily violation, erasing not only the victim’s body but his or her pain.” The way we currently represent rape, in books, in newspapers, on television, on the silver screen, often allows us to ignore the material realities of rape, the impact of rape, the meaning of rape.