Empathy for the rebel

Jason disgorged by the dragon of Colchis, with Athena and the Golden Fleece:  vase figure in Vatican Museum
Jason disgorged by the dragon of Colchis, with Athena and the Golden Fleece:
vase figure in Vatican Museum

Robert Ludlum The Bourne Identity
Orion Books 2004 (1980)

I’m not a violent person. I grew up watching American TV serials where the Lone Ranger shot revolvers out of baddies’ hands (who then merely had a sprained wrist to nurse) or comedies such as The Three Stooges which — like a Tom and Jerry cartoon — allowed the victims to recover with a shake of the head after a potentially life-threatening concussion to the brainbox department. Violence was depicted, the consequences papered over. I was uncomfortable with it, but that was all that was on offer.

These days, as it has been for several decades now, violence is more graphic in entertainment media, whether films, comics or video games. Not just villains are hurt but innocent bystanders and targeted victims. The alarm is raised every so often about how the consumption of this vicariously experienced violence without appreciation of the consequences stunts one’s capacity to exhibit empathy and how it can encourage sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies. I mention this not to stir up more argument and controversy but to contextualise my normal avoidance of thrillers in whatever form. Continue reading “Empathy for the rebel”