Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. (source)
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have agreed to live to a certain code of values, one of which is described above.
Too often, I self-limit this set of values and focus only on the vulgar, immoral or pornographic side of things. If a movie, tv show or song describes/shows/infers sexual activities, I tend to turn away from it and put it out of my mind.
Am I as diligent when it comes to violence? Have I accepted violent behaviour as normal or even desirable?
After re-examining my viewing habits, I've had to conclude that violence permeated these forms of entertainment far more than I realised at first. I watch crime shows with images of dead bodies in gruesome circumstances, the characters showing little to no reaction to the scene and often banter or flirt while standing over the kind of gore that would make me vomit in real life. But hey, they are cops and "professionals" so it's all in a day's work to them. There are spy shows that frequently have characters hitting, shooting, and blowing other people up. All in a days' work, right? Besides, they were the "bad guys" and had it coming to them.
Or what about books? I have recently read a book that discusses violent behaviour over and over. The descriptions run along the line of "I hit him several times until he fell unconscious to the floor" or "I buried my sword into his chest up to the hilt". These aren't direct quotes, but you get the idea. There wasn't a graphic description of blood and guts, but I was still able to imagine a pretty detailed scene in my head and knew that the death count of the main character was disturbingly high (the character himself didn't seem particularly perturbed, however).
After I'd read the book, I considered watching the movie -- it's fun to see a story come to life! But after reflecting on all those fight scenes I had just finished reading, I realised that I didn't actually WANT to see it.
Is it odd to be so used to violence in our media? Is it better or worse to see violence, to imagine violence, or to play a violent video game? Are there shades of grey? Does it affect our psyche?
I suppose everyone has to come to their own conclusions. I myself have found that when I turn away from violence in the media, over time, my ability to consume it is lessened. I can't seem to cope with it as well and it can actually turn my stomach. I regret reading that book, and have decided to be a lot more careful with my choice of reading material.
I sometimes consider the reason given in the Bible for the Flood:
It wasn't corruption through greed, tyranny, sexual perversion.... it was violence. People were violent, and God found that unacceptable.
That's an interesting thought.