Friday, April 23, 2010

Violence in our Culture: An Old Drashah, Still Relevant

On my commute, I enjoy listening to podcasts. (I love my iPod. It's an amazing invention. One day soon I'll post about my Nike+Ipod. Amazing.)
Among a number of different podcasts I subscribe too, I really enjoy two Slate podcasts: the Political Gabfest, and the Culture Gabfest. I recommend both.
This week's Culturefest contained a segment about a newly released movie, whose title I'm not even comfortable writing in full on this blog, called Kick-***. You've might have heard of it, as it was the top grossing film in the United States last weekend.
What's got people talking about the film apparently, is a supporting character called Hit Girl. In the film, Hit Girl is exactly that: an eleven-year-old, foul-mouthed (apparently really foul), martial-arts assassin. She literally kills dozens of people in the movie.
Now, I like a good Jackie Chan movie as much as anyone. In his (really negative) review of the movie Roger Ebert wrote,
Shall I have feelings, or should I pretend to be cool? Will I seem hopelessly square if I find “Kick-Ass” morally reprehensible and will I appear to have missed the point? Let's say you're a big fan of the original comic book, and you think the movie does it justice. You know what? You inhabit a world I am so very not interested in. A movie camera makes a record of whatever is placed in front of it, and in this case, it shows deadly carnage dished out by an 11-year-old girl, after which an adult man brutally hammers her to within an inch of her life. Blood everywhere. Now tell me all about the context.
Many people really do feel that a line has been crossed. But I often wonder: where do you draw the line? What violence is truly innocuous, and what's harmless. Where's the point beyond which we say: you know what? At some point some child is going to start trying to be like Hit Girl in the real world?
All of this got me thinking about a drashah that I gave at YIOP three years ago. Following the shocking deadly rampage at the University of West Virginia, I gave a drashah about our society's addiction to violence, connecting the theme to the topic of Tzaraat.
Reading it again this week, following the release of Kick_***, the drashah seems as relevant as ever. Maybe more so.
Click here to download the drashah.