Monday, 20 September 2010

Squeamish


I used to love reading thrillers. Crime dramas with cliffhanger moments and sometimes paranormal themes. I voraciously read through about 8 Patricia Cornwells before I realised they were all the same, and the death and misery was a bit boring. I went through a solid Agatha Christie phase and bought a stack of brick sized Dean Koontz books filled with paranormal terror and violence.

I didn't watch a lot of TV, but a good crime drama used to keep my attention. I preferred the gritty English dramas, but also got sucked into watching SVU and CSI and various other TLAs.

And then I had the Elfling.

The change was instantaneous in me; and from that day onwards I couldn't watch anything that involved hurting children, or violence against women. Suddenly gripping came to equal stomach turning and I switched it all off. Books were put aside for lighter fare; I suddenly understood my Mum's love of terrible chicklit.

In spite of this, I got sucked into True Blood earlier this year (no pun intended). The first series was clever, erotic and different to anything I'd watched in ages. The heat of the deep South pulled me in, and I was interested in the story lines. There was blood, and it made me uncomfortable, but the rest of it was worth it.

The second series started off in a similar vein, and I genuinely liked the characters. Then, as the story evolved, I started to find it very difficult to watch. The much whispered about blood and sex started to seep under my skin and instead of finding it vaguely erotic I found it painful. Instead of watching back to back episodes I started to ration it for days when I felt I could stomach it. I was still interested in the characters, and they were acted well, but the gratuitous nature of the events became too much. I was on my Emergency rotation and the constant stream of self inflicted injuries, assaults, scalp lacerations and alcohol-related everything made me extra sensitive.

Fast forward to now and I'm dealing with an area of medicine that's difficult enough as it is, with pain and death and the violence of both a part of every single day, and I've just finished watching Series 3. And I feel vaguely violated. Like a part of my brain that should have been closed off has been pricked and it's bleeding into other parts. I honestly can't recommend it to other people - even though the story line is interesting.

It's just not entertaining for me to watch death, even in fiction. I live in this bizarre world where I talk about it all day, discuss staving it off, talk to families and listen to the darkest fears of proud men and women who can't believe that they're saying these things out loud. I meet people who've given up, or who have families that are keening in pain as they watch the deterioration helpless, and I watch the almost comical blood letting in True Blood and I want to punch something.

There's something wrong with a society that takes joy and gets turned on by prime time depravity. I kind of wish for the mythical 50s and a world where watching someone fuck in a pool of blood would be considered so incredibly disturbed that there would be uproar about it. Instead of a swathe of Emmy nominations.

I want to believe in rainbows and fairies. And to sit on my back steps and blow soap bubbles that dance on the breeze and glow in the sunlight. And forget that one day I will die.

2 comments:

Averil said...

YES YES YES.

So well said Jenn.

Melissa said...

I couldn't even get through the first season. First it was kind of sexy and interesting. It devolved quickly into gratuitous and disturbing.

I'm not good at violent. I'm not good at death.

I want to believe in happy endings and true love and perfect days.

Hard to find in television, that's for sure.

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