Recently I started to wonder what this horror-fascination means psychologically. I first simply thought it was the kind of enjoyment one feels watching the wreckage of a car accident, the kind of enjoyment Augustine talked about with respect to the amphitheater, the kind I feel while watching The Walking Dead. The difference in my case is that The Walking Dead involves actors and fake blood and no one has been hurt or is getting hurt. Contrarily, I don't watch things where people actually get hurt. I don't enjoy those parts of America's Funniest Home Videos where people actually get hurt. I call this discrepancy empathy.
But moral outrage is something different than beholding and enjoying physical gruesomeness. One can feel moral superiority with the former, but not with the latter - unless, that is, one enjoys watching videos of fat people falling down, because, after all, "they shouldn't be so fat, anyway," or videos of brides being struck down by waves at their stupid, idealistic beach weddings, because, after all, "I mock their false happiness, because it's not mine."
But there is even more to it than enjoying that feeling of moral superiority. But that feeling is a part of it. There is an eschatalogical element at play. "See how bad things have gotten: the end must be nigh!"
Moral Horror Junkies (MHJ) also always seem to be eschatologists. Come to think of it, they are also the people for whom the miraculous is quite important. Why - what links all of these things together? They seem to be really interested in signs and wonders, the people to whom Jesus effectively says, pay attention to more pressing matters, like love of God and neighbour. I think they are people who are bored, listless, people whose faith needs a boost, people for whom quotidian Christian duties all on their own are trying. They might have a resentment problem too: do they resent not being able to do all the fun things sinners get to do and so want to imagine these people getting their comeuppance sitting in a pool of boiling oil in hell?
Is it a vindicated for them of the correctness of their religion, because, after all, people who follow Christianity don't do such things!? Yes, we all grant that - it's obvious and thus unremarkable. But I believe in Christianity, so you are trying to prove something to me that I don't need proven to me.
I mean, there is a lot we can say about this phenomenon. But the bottom line is this: I don't care about the latest trend of depravity among today's young people! Don' tell me about, and even more, for your own sake, stop enjoying telling me about it so much.
|Aztec kids out on a Friday night at 15th century |
Mexico's equivalent of MacDonald's.
People have eaten people. In every land, in every culture. During the siege of Leningrad, during the Siege of Capua, at the Aztec pyramids. People will eat people again. In Toronto, perhaps.
Sexual depravity. What do you expect? The Romans. Nero. Caligula. Every society ever. Young people who have hit puberty often do sexual things, things that you and I would not approve of. Shocking!
I also don't want to hear about the latest trend among young people (involving the internet) because even though I have a low, that is to say, an Augustinian view of human nature, I know that these latest trend people like to talk about are not trends at all, but the constructs of the media and outraged soccer moms. Sexting. Yes, it happens. But it's not your problem. Your children are your problem. People do not raise their children well and so things like this happen. But you know what? It's not sweeping the nation, because I was a child once and I was too shy to do any thing like this ever and I know I am not alone in this! To a large extent children are still the same as they were thirty years ago: most have some moral and/or psychological restraint. Most would not be in pornographic movies for this simple reason. They have not all turned into the Children of the Corn, the kids from the Village of the Damned, Lord of the Flies or that episode of Star Trek, humorously depicted here:
The fear of the younger generation is, I suppose, a part of what fueled the myth of Saturn devouring his children, which seems to me to be the flip-side of the Oedipus Complex. Therefore, it might be quite natural to fear what the world is coming to, but it's also important for Christians not to fear that evil is more powerful than good, that the Gospel and the Holy Spirit given to the Church is not able to counter these bad trends. The fact is, there are good kids out there (I own a number of them myself) and you have to bear that fact in mind in all your prognosticating. Kids need direction, and that is all that is wrong with the younger generation: WE ARE NOT GIVING IT TO THEM. In other words, it is not they who are bad, it is we!
Please pray for this younger generation. In Renfrew County they are starting another year of school today. And stop your profitless fear-mongering. It does not dispense you from the hard work of raising them. And God's blessing upon my children's teachers. You are going to need it.
(And, I am okay with having alienating all of my friends with this post. Because you are all hereby indemnified. So read some history and take a chill pill, for "behold I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Mt 28:20))