When questioned in an interview on why his movies include such graphic violence, Quentin Tarantino responded ‘because it’s so much fun.’ Tarantino does not tread lightly around this subject, making a clear distinction in the interview between movies and real life, claiming that ‘cool parents’ will let their children watch his films.
Scenes of a highly violent nature are a hallmark of Tarantino’s work. As someone with a fear of blood, I know that every movie of his that I sit down to watch, will likely have at least ten minutes of screen time where I’ll be hiding behind a pillow, unable to watch the bloodbath taking place before me. This use of violence in cinema has become increasingly common, as movies like the John Wick franchise and others, centred around lengthy and graphic fight scenes, have emerged.
One may argue that this use of graphic violence enhances the story telling as it raises the stakes of the content we consume, adding an extra layer of drama. But the current all-pervasive level of gore has gone way past the typical thriller genre it is typically associated with.
The recent Netflix drama Squid Game gained huge attention not only for the intense violence portrayed throughout the series but also for the highly intriguing plot which shines a light on issues of poverty that plague Korean society. The creator Hwang Dong-hyuk claims that the violent nature of the programme is necessary, stating that it is “figurative and allegorical […] [it] mirrors people who run into a dead end after failing to survive the competitive society.” In his eyes, the violence depicted in the show fuels the storyline.
It is impossible to ignore, however, just how desensitized audiences have become to this brutal new genre. YouTubers such as James Charles and Mr Beast have both received criticism for overlooking the meaning of the show, choosing instead to recreate the now infamous games depicted throughout the series. This trend is highly concerning as both Charles and Mr Beast’s content is aimed towards younger viewers.
The Washington Post has also reported on concerns being raised in schools in America after children were seen recreating the games seen in the show. This begs the question; what effect is this violent media having on children?
Creators argue that their use of violence is necessary to heighten the drama and intensity of their storylines. I, however, cannot help but wonder whether this graphic content is indeed enhancing the media we consume, or if it is just further desensitising audiences to gratuitous violence. One must question further whether it is safe to expose children to content of a highly graphic nature, or if children can be expected to decipher what is real and what is just special effects, as claimed by Tarantino himself.