Hollywood Has Numbed Us to Explosions

Explosions always look so cool in the movies. The good guy runs in slow motion as cars fly everywhere, windows break, and huge fireballs chase just behind. These scenes are thrilling for many reasons (Hollywood is, after all, very good at what it does), but one thing that makes them fun is the knowledge, deep down, that the characters we care about are going to make it out okay.

The use of explosions in this manner certainly increases ticket sales as people like to watch such amazing effects on the big screen. However, they also hold a burden of responsibility because they minimize the terrifying nature of explosions in reality.

Just as shootouts in movies minimize the true danger and horror of a real shooting, so explosions teach us from an early age that they are cool and fun and no one important gets hurt.

This almost certainly leads to young boys and girls experimenting with fireworks instead of recognizing the danger they hold. At the same time, it allows us to minimize tragedies when they occur in real life, and to blow off any efforts at prevention.

We have become accustomed to demanding thrills at all times in our modern lives. We want to see videos of the horrors taking place in the world because Hollywood has taught us to find pleasure in this. Humans already struggle to empathize with those they don’t know. When Hollywood encourages this reaction, we end up becoming voyeurs of tragedy, frantically clicking around for better videos, more extensive recaps and roundups of what happened. We want all the gory details because, on some level, subconsciously, we think it’s all fun and games. None of these people are real.

This numbness comes with a price. We all become less safe. We all become at greater risk of injury or death through explosions, gunfire, and other forms of unnatural violence.

Just as Hollywood helped create this problem, so Hollywood can help out now. It is not so difficult to change the narrative behind explosions in a film. Indeed, in the aftermath of 9/11, movies did just that. There were far fewer examples of plane crashes and city-wide explosions in the years that followed, and when they did occur, they were done with an eye to the tragic side of such events. Filmmakers make particular efforts to show the trauma that explosions cause.

We saw close up the grieving and the horror, and while we remained entertained (it is too much to ask Hollywood to stop doing that), we were at least equally horrified.

In recent years, however, Hollywood has again forgotten this lesson. Unfortunately, it may take another epic tragedy for it to learn its lesson again. Until then, we all, as consumers, have a duty to avoid movies that earn their money off the glorification of violence.

More needs to be done to make our society aware of how violent it is. One way to do that is to turn off the movies and pay attention to the actual tragedies happening outside.

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