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Pain and Suffering: A past time.

Posted in General | 12:51

How shocking and disturbing do we really find pain and suffering? Not our own but that of others. Are we empathetic towards their pain? Do we feel sickened/nauseated when we see their pain?

To an increasingly disturbing extent... we don't.

The first war to be televised was the vietnam war. Ever since, large scale massacres and bloody battles have been filmed as they happened (as opposed to only seeing the aftermath which was much the case pre-vietnam), and these accounts of war have been introduced to our never ending stream of etertainment fed to us through a television screan.

Back in the 'old days' news analysts used the 'breakfast test' to deem a topic newsworthy or not. If you were too shocked/sickened after reading the headlines to eat your breakfast then the headline was newsworthy. That test is no longer applicable. As a society we have become far too disentisised, taking in the news of the bloated bodies of the tsunami victims and the storyline of saw 4 in the same stride. Following the war in Iraq while watching soldiers getting their limbs blown off in The thin red line (which was a boring movie btw, as far as war movies go). 

Hollywood blockbusters, in fact, have steam rolled our sense of empathy when dealing with the pain of others. It has even altered our way of thinking about events. 9/11 survivors described their experience in the buring towers as 'unreal', 'surreal' and, most disturbingly, 'like a movie' (and then the movie World Trade Center was made). How much have the lines between reality and fiction been blurred as the result of movies and the news media? Too much.

Having this knowledge might lead one to think that they are not sucseptable to being disentisised - alas, we are all victims. Going through some media readings that were written a good few years ago, I read about two photos that existed that are supposedly disturbing as they capture the moment of death or killing blow of a person in various wars. I went and found these pictures and too my utter shock and horror, I did not find them shocking or horrible. Here we have spanish civil war soldier who was just shot and is in the process of collapsing to the ground, dead.


Do you find it particulary shocking as opposed to what we see on the news today and in movies? After staring at for a few minutes and came up with the absurd idea that he could be doing a funny dance.

And here we have Brigadier General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong suspect in a street in Saigon.


The trigger has been pulled, the bullet has just entered the mans head. What do we see? The impassive face of the Brigadier General, a South Vietmanese soldier on the left with a funny smile and the victim making a ridiculous face - one would imagine your inevitable death face to be slighty more dignified. This is how disentisised we have become as a society.

The pain and suffering of others is merely a living room past time.

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