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Lately, I have been watching The Fall, a British psychological thriller aired since 2013.
The killer has a fetish for killing beautiful women of a certain type. The very detailed, intimate and frighteningly authentic scenes are thrilling, but they also worry me.
When the killer, played by the very good-looking and sexy actor Jamie Dornan, kills someone, people make comments like, "Wow, he is so handsome!" "Good muscles" or "I wish it were me lying there."
I watched it on bilibili.com, which allows viewers to send real-time comments across the screen. I really enjoy watching shows and reading the comments, but this time, people's response to the killing kind of freaked me out.
I very much understand why people would appreciate the aestheticization of violence, and I usually have a high tolerance for it. For example, I enjoy having a meal while watching The Walking Dead (an American TV series about a world overrun by zombies) and like how the crunchy sound of my food goes well with the crunchy sound of an ax being driven into a zombie's head.
Regardless of its controversy, the aestheticization of violence has been around for ages, starting with the much detailed and unsettling church paintings of Jesus bleeding and suffering. Ultraviolent plots are in many movies, comics, novels, paintings and music, too.
Another thing that concerns me is the very detailed and graphic portrayal of violence against women in the show. As a matter of fact, it seems that violence against women, including rape and murder, is on the rise in TV shows and films these days.
While there are strong women like the policewomen in the show, there are also the victims who are beautiful, vulnerable and unable to protect themselves.
I don't like it. More women are presented as powerful on screen nowadays, and there should be more. (Though many would say the triumph of Trump in the US election is a signal of feminism going backward.)There are many good shows with very sophisticated, multi-layered female characters that I really like, for example, Alicia Florrick from The Good Wife (2009-16).
I think they should cut back on their obsession with making all the violence in shows against women.
Shows about violence, crime and the darker side of humanity can be very addictive. Once you get hooked, you can never go back to watching romance comedies. And as our appetite grows, so does our craving for more authentic plots and scenes until it reaches the point of being very disturbing, or even repulsive.
I don't know whether we have already gone too far. In the meantime, a good coping mechanism that works well for me is watching one episode of The Fall and then one hour of some lighthearted comedy to refresh my mind.
I hope there'll soon be some form of criteria to tell confused viewers like myself how far is too far when it comes to violence in films.
This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.