Letter: Sex and violence in a 'degenerate culture'

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The Independent Online
Sir: One of the problems in the discussion of the effects of violence and pornography in film and television is that many of the dynamics belong to the unconscious mind, or at least the less conscious areas of the mind. Yet at the 'common sense' level the connections are understood. For instance, the excitement of pornography lies in our sense that we are taking from those depicted in sexual acts something they would not give voluntarily - it is thus 'visual rape', or a form of stealing, glamourised.

Violence has a parallel appeal. It prompts what I would call 'false solutions', and the dynamic is that of hate: the maxim, 'Since I cannot find satisfaction in love, I may as well give myself over to the joys of hatred, and get what satisfaction I can out of that.'

For creative people to give themselves over to dynamic of hate is, today, immensely profitable, partly because we have an industrialised culture (cf, television) that is expensive to run and must use the most barbaric appeals to hold attention: and partly because, at a time when people at large feel that their lives do not have much meaning, the dynamic of hate seems to offer a substitute.

Many of today's artists and their supporters, alas, have given themselves up to the dynamic of hate to survive, and it is for this reason that we have what the Los Angeles Times calls a 'degenerate culture'. But, as the late Raymond Williams declared, 'culture teaches', and it is in this that danger lies.

Yours etc,

DAVID HOLBROOK

Cambridge

12 March

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