How Much Is Too Much?

For those of us who have always appreciated stirring tales of action & adventure, it is a sad time. Most of the famous old stories could have been enjoyed by people of all ages, but like the movies of today, adventure stories are being very specifically targeted toward more and more narrow audiences and the largest audience group seems to be that one which only appreciates the most atrociously violent, gory and disgusting kinds of action, vying with one another in brutality and cruelty. Protagonist and antagonists are only separated by a fine line in terms of the violence they are capable of and the rest of the characters seem to regard the way they behave as fairly normal. The world of these stories is bestial; incorrigible.

Here is an interesting example of how our tolerance of violent action has changed. A character in one adventure of a popular science fiction action & adventure TV series became an arms dealer because he had the opportunity and needed the money. Some of his friends disapproved but he clung to his new métier until an arms deal was going to result in the death of 20,000,000 people. Then his conscience bothered him and he withdrew from arms dealing. This character in the series wasn’t an evil person; he was characterized as being a tiny bit amoral and self –serving but still likeable. He was more or less normal. And it took 20,000,000 deaths to prick his conscience. Does this suggest that perhaps our priorities have been changing? I can myself remember when the death of one single person was enough motivation to change the actions of a character in a drama.

It was encouraging to me to read in The Kingdom on the Edge of Reality by Gahan Hanmer a plot where the death of a single man was still significant.