Shortly after we were married, my husband and I saw the original Rocky movie at the show. My parents virtually never went to the movies but we thought this story of the underdog overcoming the odds might be enjoyable to them, so we went a second time and took them with us. The story was overshadowed by language for them. There really isn't much swearing in Rocky, but to 60 year old people who were accustomed to 3 network TV channels that didn't allow "damn", whatever curse words were in the movie were a shock to them. It isn't that they never swore, they simply weren't used to hearing it in movies.
Now I am 61 and unfortunately, you can hear a lot more than "damn" at any hour on cable TV, even on the old network stations of ABC, CBS and NBC. I could say more about this but language isn't what is on my mind this morning. Violence is.
The series The Following began last year and had many viewers hooked before the first episode was over. I was one of them. The key word in that sentence is "was". I am not a movie or TV critic, and I'm not campaigning to have any shows removed. I only speak for myself. The violence of that show got to me. I watched it through the first season because I wanted to know what happened to the key characters, but I listened more than I watched. Hearing torture, even though I know it was acting and not real, was almost as bad as watching it. That series resumes soon, maybe even this week. My husband will probably watch it but I won't.
A newer series has joined that category for me. The series is The Blacklist. I think it is well written and I really like James Spader. I'd been having doubts that I could continue watching this but last night confirmed that I cannot. I was wide awake in the middle of the night and thought I would catch up on recorded TV. Silly me, I chose The Blacklist. I was awake for another 90 minutes after watching that even though I had my eyes covered when the bad guys reached for their tools of torture. I know that these shows still hold back from what some movies show, but the implication and dialog is clear enough to upset me.
I suspect 20 and 30 year olds take these shows in stride. I don't want to guess what will bother them when they reach 60 since swearing and violence are norms in the world of entertainment now. In my philosophical moments, I wonder if all of this isn't desensitizing society as a whole and partly explains man's treatment of fellow man. I try not to think about this too much though. It makes me want to write blog posts and ask the unanswerable question: What the hell is going on? And then I have to silently apologize to Mom and Dad. They weren't used to seeing swearing in print either.