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.