What do you let slide?

by Rebecca A. Watson on September 18, 2013

in advertising, habits, media, music

During the month of August, I decided to go on a violence fast, spurred on by another member of my 30 Day Challenge group. This was something I’d never really thought about and found it sort of novel.

After all, I wasn’t a huge fan of violent movies or anything. Braveheart made me cringe. It took a few tries for me to get through the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan to actually watch the entire film.

And I certainly wasn’t into video games at all. I barely read the news anymore. I didn’t watch Game of Thrones. Please, I thought, this was going to be child’s play.

hear see speak no evil

Turns out that maybe I spoke too soon. The first day of August I finished the latest book I was reading and poked around for something else in the house.

Since we were staying in a temporary home, the only book in English was Flags of Our Fathers. A compelling read, I’m sure, but being it’s all about war, it was untouchable until September.

So I scoured the public library, and after finding most of the English books checked out, finally bit the bullet and bought a book.

I figured this was an anomaly, but then something weird happened. I had to change a lot of my behavior to fit into the constraints of a non-violent month. And truthfully, I cheated a little bit.

fingers crossed

My music was probably the biggest surprise for me. Being a huge hip-hop fan didn’t help, as that genre (especially during the ’90s ) is notorious for its shot gun skits. Picture me skipping Tupac, Eminem, Jay-Z and Atmosphere.

But it didn’t end there. There was murder in my folk songs, self-harm in my Indie rock and minor threats in my punk rock. And pop music? As much as I love it, it’s guilty as well.

Of course, all this made me ask, what exactly is violence? Where do I draw the line? Is Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” violent? Vague rapey lyrics? Is calling a woman a “bitch” or a “ho” violent?

When it came to TV shows, I had to hold off on watching the newest season of Breaking Bad, which was tough for me but I handled it. I wanted to read about the conflict in Syria, but ended up settling for a headline or two I couldn’t escape.

As far as cheating? I watched the Batman movies while I was sick, reasoning the comic book violence wasn’t “real.” The same went for Battlestar Galactica. And I listened to some Eminem on a run, and wow, did I get a rush!

rebecca dancing

Music has always had an intense effect on me.

After the month was over I didn’t want to eliminate violence completely from the media in my life. I didn’t feel lighter or happier as a result of the fast like my fellow challenger had. (That could be because of my life circumstances right now. I’m pretty frickin’ light and happy having moved to Germany.)

What this challenge did was shed light on something that I had no idea was so pervasive in my life. In fact, I didn’t think it was an issue at all. And from that I ended up wondering, what else has infiltrated my life like that?

I’m sure there’s latent sexism, racism and ethnocentrism. I practically declared the U.S. to be the best place to recycle after dealing with the cluster-fuck that is Germany’s waste disposal program. Turns out the country is a world leader in dealing with waste. *hangs head in shame*

german recycling

Not pictured: Bio waste and certain glass and plastic bottles, which are returned to stores.

Because of this challenge, I’m more conscious of the violence I expose myself to — two people were shot in one episode of Breaking Bad I watched last night. More than that, it’s opened my eyes to the fact that there are plenty of other things I need to be aware of in my life and my personality.

I’m not going to try to eliminate these things. It’s practice, not perfection after all. But I am going to speak up when someone makes what I think is a backhanded sexist or racist comment. I’ll try not to support companies who perpetuate gender stereotypes. Y’know, little things.

What about you? Is there anything you were completely unaware of that you came to realize played a huge role in your life? I’m curious if I’m really late to this party. Let me know in the comments!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

sean September 18, 2013 at 11:57 am

Tough one. Violence is a reality, albeit an unpleasant one. Does to “fast” mean to not participate or to ignore? To “not participate” might include acknowledging it’s existence and to mindfully do your best to not engage in violent acts. To ignore it might be wishful thinking — which isn’t really based on reality.

Your challenges and your writing is always inspiring. Thanks for yet another meaningful piece.

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Ms. Becca September 18, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Thanks for your comment sean. I was really grappling with how to deal with violence going forward as I’m not interested in doing what I did in August. I like your idea of not participating by acknowledging its existence and mindfully not engaging in violent acts. Ignoring it is a kind of blind optimism, which isn’t what I’m going for at all.

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Ms. Becca September 20, 2013 at 1:12 am

The guy who inspired me to take this challenge commented on FB to me:

Great post! I had a lot of the same reactions as you, and found it to be not exactly difficult, but something that really makes you notice everything around you. Since having my kid, I find I’m much more sensitive to portrayals of violence, but realize that everyone’s tolerance is different (as is any one person’s at different points of their lives). I didn’t “cheat” with Stargate, though I found that that type of sci-fi “only the bad guys get shot, and there’s no blood” style doesn’t bother me (though thinking about it later, I realized it really should, exactly because it’s portrayed so lightly). I’m glad I was able to inspire you to do it!

Olivia September 27, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Maybe fasting, pointed out the violence more?

I know that sounds a bit odd, but it’s like I use to go to church, I saw and judged the sin of the world and felt like everyone and everything was going to hell in a hand-basket. And that’s when I realized me and church didn’t go together.

Does that make sense? haha

And when I want to know about what’s going on in the world, I watch Phillip Defranco on youtube. He fills you in while keeping it light and funny 🙂

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Ms. Becca October 3, 2013 at 7:42 am

Yes Olivia, that totally makes sense! I never really thought about it, but I guess sometimes when you’re trying to deny yourself something, you’re focusing on it, which makes it a lot easier to see.

And oh my goodness I just watched Philip Defranco and he could possibly be the most adorable thing ever. I guess I’ll keep my eye on his channel. Thanks for letting me know about him 🙂

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