Violence In Movies Is Not The Worst

This week I read a uninformative listicle in the Huffington Post titled “16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People”. Most of the 16 items on the list are not “habits” — “that annoying sound is probably significantly more annoying to a highly sensitive person”?  That’s not a “habit”.  That’s being cursed with good hearing and an inability to ignore those annoying sounds.

Articles like this one aren’t interesting to me, but I’m glad information about high sensitivity is getting broad exposure.  I get it — the title is a play on the title of a best-selling book and is for people who don’t know much about the high sensitivity trait.  I don’t like it, but I get it.

The “habit” I disagree with the most is:  “Violent movies are the worst.  Because highly sensitive people are so high in empathy and more easily overstimulated, movies with violence or horror themes may not be their cup of tea.”

Violent movies aren’t the worst.  Bad movies are the worst.  I hate horror movies because they’re bad, not because of the goriness or cruelty or creepiness.  I laugh at that stuff.

Bad movies affect me because they’re…bad.  They waste my time, don’t contain believable characters, and insult my intelligence.

Violent movies don’t affect me because I don’t let them affect me.  When the shooting starts or there’s a beheading, I can’t help but think about the choreography of the scene, the props, the fake blood, the actors with bullet holes in their costumes as they sip green drinks in their trailers. I think about the artists who create the illusion of severed limbs and head wounds.  Sometimes I wince and then think “I wonder how they did that”.  I’m amazed, not traumatized.

I am bothered by the idea of violence as entertainment.  I’m (slightly) bothered that I’m regularly entertained by it.  I’ve spent many Saturday nights watching men and women try to knock each other unconscious in the octagon, but is this violence?  Both fighters are willing participants subject to the same rules.  That makes it a game, not violence.

Here’s a situation that illustrates the difference between a game and violence:  in 2010, two welterweights, Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley, fight for two boring, uneventful rounds.  At the end of the third round, the bell rings, the referee separates the fighters, and Daley takes a shot at Koscheck.  What happened in the 15 minutes before Daley took that shot wasn’t violence.  The suckerpunch was.

When someone is being stomped to death in a movie or…I’m trying to remember another violent scene I watched in a movie recently and I can’t come up with one.  See how little it affects me?  I see it and feel it then I shut down and shut it out.  Am I becoming desensitized to violence in movies? Maybe, but who cares?


It’s not real violence.

I care very much about and save my upset and empathy for real violence that affects real people — Chris Brown beating up Rhianna, the shooting at Sandy Hook, a girl who commits suicide because she’s being bullied, or a boy who’s shot because he’s wearing a hooded sweatshirt and looks threatening.  I’m affected by hate, injustice, sexism, discrimination and formulaic movies.  I don’t have empathy to waste on movie violence.

So, bad movies are the worst.

Suckerpunches are the worst.

Real violence is the worst.


8 thoughts on “Violence In Movies Is Not The Worst

  1. This is great! I agree with all of your points here. I also read that highly sensitive people thing, and had the exact same reaction to the one about violent movies, mostly because many of my favourite movies are really violent!


  2. Hi! I get a lot of what you are saying what I’d just like to pitch in my two cents, if that’s okay. Maybe it depends on the individual person. Personally, as a HSP, I can’t even stand watching any gruesome, frightening or violent scenes on the screen, despite knowing that it is completely fake. I mean, if the blood looked like cordial, that’s not scary. And I suppose that’s what you mean by violent movies. But it’s like, if I see someone getting stabbed on screen, I immediately imagine what it would feel like if it happened to me and I can’t stand looking. But then again, I even walk away from the screen if an embarrassing situation is about to occur. A cringe-worthy one. Ha. Maybe I’m just weird. But you’ve made quite an interesting point. I’ll have to go and rodeo up some of my other HSP friends and ask for their input.


    1. Hi…I’m glad you’re sharing your different point of view. I understand your discomfort. I avoid that discomfort by not letting myself imagine what it would feel like. I would never enjoy most movies and TV shows if I didn’t and I would miss out on so much great art. I would love to know what your HSP friends think about this topic. Let me know if you do inquire.


  3. Totally agree with your last paragraph…but, if I do feel differently to you about violent movies. I actually echo the sentiments raised by the previous poster – I think my ability to empathise with a person or situation makes any violence very hard to stomach, real or not.


    1. I totally get and respect how you feel. I think it’s fair to say we all aren’t sensitive in the same ways and about the same things. Still I would choose a good violent movie over a bad or lame non violent movie every time. Good art trumps any momentary discomfort for me.
      Thank you for reading and commenting!


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