Posted tagged ‘Catharsis Theory’

The Dark Knight and Catharsis Theory

July 29, 2008

Poster de Batman The Dark Knight  by MyCine.

I watched The Dark Knight nights ago. Well, who didn’t anyway? It’s prolly the most-anticipated movie of the year.

I’ve read a lot of movie reviews, both negative and positive, before I watched the film. The reviews were pretty interesting! And they made me eager to watch it.

The movie was literally “dark”. I mean, the movie itself and not the moviehouse. hehe. Most of the scenes were taken in dark lighting. I know that’s the effect they wanted to achieve, though. There were explosions, gunshots, and brutal killings in most of the scenes plus the horrible and scruffy faces of Joker and Two-Face (thankful ako kasi may mas pangit pa sa kin) 😆 They were so freaky. Actingwise, Ledger’s performance was great. And of course the movie was done with superb technicality with excellent SFX and all that. BTW, this is not a review ’cause I know a lot has been said about the movie. Why so serious, anyway? hehe. Oh wait, I’ll just comment on Batman’s pa-cute-whispering-voice. I didn’t like it much. Peace!

The reviews were very accurate – the movie is a bit violent. Most of the scenes are not suitable for very young audiences. Patnubay ng magulang ay kailangan. hehe.

But we have to deal with it. Movies and some other media, that are intented to entertain and inform us, have some violent contents. This media endorsement of violence is believed to be justified by the concept of catharsis (katharsis), a Greek word which means “purging or cleansing” (thanks to my Communication Theories prof for teaching me this). This communication theory states that constant exposure of people to violent media could be an outlet for them to purge anger and aggression. This notion  was actually intoduced by Aristotle who believed that viewing tragic plays was a way of releasing negative feelings and reducing anger. In comtemporary media, filmmakers prolly believe that viewing violence could create same effect to the viewing public’s behavior. This can also be noticed in some violent computer games, claiming that playing violent games is one way of purging aggressive urges.

Now the question is, how do violent media like The Dark Knight affect the behavior of a viewer? Does it really help someone get rid of aggressive urges or does it increase someone’s aggression instead? These are intriguing questions.

While the concept that you need an outlet for aggressive urges may be valid, it may also be detrimental especially to young viewers who are vulnerable and are more likely to be manipulated by violent media. This has been the most controversial issue here. Perhaps, this is the reason why some movie critics found the movie “disturbing” and “violent”, qualities which make the movie not suitable for young audiences. A 20-year-old man, with complete gruesome make-up like The Joker, was actually arrested recently in Michigan for stealing some posters and other Batman-related items.

Well, viewing violent media is not the only factor that causes aggression but its effect to some viewers cannot be ignored. Remember that this is a theory, meaning it can be plausible and invalid in some extent. The bottom line is that a certain media content can have different effects to individuals. “Not everyone who watches violent media becomes aggressive, and not everyone who is aggressive watches violent media.” What ya think?