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Old 05-30-2017   #1
ukiyo-e cat
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Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

There was one post on TLO by Coa that I frequently revisit. I will quote the relevant passage for this thread and bold the most pertinent sentence:

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It would be interesting to see some further discussion on cruelty on other mediums - like internet of course, in recent years great rise of popularity of Snuff genre which is getting more and more exposed, sites that contain videos of torture from some random war-zones across world, "leaked" mortuary video shows or blogs that mainly focus on pictures of car crash victims for example... There is whole scene now and its getting wider, for better or worse. There is some kinda of addiction behind all this when you just cant look away, those who know better speak speak of some kind of healing process behind all this, which is kinda hard to believe, but there is certainly something special behind all of that, not just dead-end pathology.
Are our notions of cruelty, good, and bad largely inborn, or do they fluctuate like most things in life? I have gone on such websites as what Coa referred, and after watching sadistic videos, I observed comments of people expressing arousal, satisfaction, and so forth. I do not think I am permitted to describe those videos in detail, but I am interested in people's own personal experiences or thoughts towards such a subculture.

We live in a time where the foundation of virtues are being destabilized by one thing or another, thanks to the loss of traditional cultures or growth of nihilism. Is it possible we will see more fetishizing of what we consider to be the darkness as pessimistic literature's popularity grows or nihilistic discourse becomes more commonplace? Will there be more people seeking the thrill of sadism, like this man here who left TLO a long time ago:

Nothing frightens me anymore - THE NIGHTMARE NETWORK

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Nothing frightens me anymore.

I'm losing interest in films and books which once frightened me. Only real horrors frighten me, which aren't the same, because they are theoretical, and statistically only happen to other people.

Sure, there are things that will gross me out, or subtly clever variations upon themes and ideas which once had me quaking under the covers, but in terms of sheer childish terror, I haven't been scared for twenty years.

Fear, sex and death are the only things worth exciting over. Everything else is a less visceral emotional response. I want to feel the cold blade of a razor on my throat; the jaw-dropping horror of the flying bed in 'The Exorcist'; or the wild thrill of a hurried sexual liasion in the stationary cupboard with a married woman.
If such phenomena becomes more widespread, wouldn't what people perceive as 'dark' change roles into becoming what we, presently, consider more 'light'? It's a bizarre idea, but we see it all the time during times of war. The reactions of what certain phenomena elicit seems to be variable and impermanent across many individuals.

I think this is one (supposedly) negative consequence of pessimistic, nihilistic thought growing in popularity. Since virtues have been upended, there's nothing to stop people from exploring such cruel aspects of the mind, which they'd argue are fundamental facets of life and not necessarily bad. There is no 'ought' to stop people from delving into or molding such aspects of the psyches.

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Old 05-30-2017   #2
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Re: Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

Quote Originally Posted by ukiyo-e cat View Post
I observed comments of people expressing arousal, satisfaction, and so forth.
I think a lot of the time they are joking. It's a constant on youtube for people to joke that they're aroused in an inappropriate context.

I've known some nice people who watched really sick stuff and it seems to be due to an abundance of morbid curiosity and perhaps a lack of reflection. It appalled me that they found some of these videos humorous, but they could still acknowledge how horrible and wrong these things were.

My friends knew a nice guy who liked happy slapping videos and he seemed to not even consider the ethical implications of watching this stuff for fun.

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Old 05-30-2017   #3
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Re: Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

This interesting-looking read might address what you're talking about in the context of the fall of Nazi Germany, not to invoke Godwin's law or anything.




"The Third Reich's legacy is in flux. For much of the post-war period, the Nazi era has been viewed moralistically as an exceptional period of history intrinsically different from all others. Since the turn of the millennium, however, this view has been challenged by a powerful wave of normalization. Gavriel D. Rosenfeld charts this important international trend by examining the shifting representation of the Nazi past in contemporary western intellectual and cultural life. Focusing on works of historical scholarship, popular novels, counterfactual histories, feature films, and Internet websites, he identifies notable changes in the depiction of the Second World War, the Holocaust, and the figure of Adolf Hitler himself. By exploring the origins of these works and assessing the controversies they have sparked in the United States and Europe, Hi Hitler! offers a fascinating and timely analysis of the shifting status of the Nazi past in western memory."

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Old 05-30-2017   #4
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Re: Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
I've known some nice people who watched really sick stuff and it seems to be due to an abundance of morbid curiosity and perhaps a lack of reflection. It appalled me that they found some of these videos humorous, but they could still acknowledge how horrible and wrong these things were.

My friends knew a nice guy who liked happy slapping videos and he seemed to not even consider the ethical implications of watching this stuff for fun.
I think you underestimate the human brain's capacity for functional plasticity. I do agree a lot of times it is morbid curiosity but most certainly not all of the time.

I think the curse of being human is man cannot agree on a set of normative and meta ethics uniformly across cultures.

I mean, sacrificial rituals were common in many cultures of various time periods and, from historical descriptions, many reveled in it. With the growth of moral anti-realism, it's possible such events may be seen as neutral or desirable at large. I feel the subculture Coa referred to is a symptom of that whether through desensitazion or gratification.

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Old 05-30-2017   #5
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Re: Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

When was cruelty and horror not normal to the public?

From the time of the gladiators, public executions in Middle Age, lingchi, atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, black lynchings...to the press idolizing serial killers and now to youtube videos of cruel pranks, the public never care that their victory or entertainment is mixed with the blood and tears of others.

And this has nothing to do with the rising cynicism (no I don't see pessimism rising) but everything to do with schadenfreude and feelings of moral superiority.

Take the Abu Ghraib photos where US soldiers are seen smiling, giving thumb up next to tortured prisoners, I doubt they did it out of beliefs that being alive is not alright or consciousness is a mistake.



For the Internet subculture of torture, I've heard there was a new type of porn where people pay to see a beautiful woman stepping on a kitten, or a youtube video of some young men beating a homeless man with a hammer, or cruel pranks where a person would pour scalding water on another...I don't think any person who watch these videos or are involved in the production do so out of pessimistic and nihilistic beliefs. They watch them out of morbid curiosity (like Robert Adam Gilmour said) or because they want to test how strong they are mentally. To them, those video are similar to haunted houses where they go test their courage.

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Old 05-30-2017   #6
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Re: Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

Once you have defined "cruelty" my guess would be never. To deny our cruel and sadistic nature is a terrible trap to fall into. Better to face it and try to keep it in check.

"The world is indeed comic, but the joke is on mankind." - H. P. Lovecraft
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Old 05-30-2017   #7
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Re: Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

I disagree partially, ToALonelyPeace. Your sociohistorical analysis is correct in that cruelty has largely been part and parcel of mankind's travails, but I would also add that in some time periods it has been more frowned upon, such as the second half of Ashoka's reign.

What I am expounding is nihilistic thought has conditioned many to view such cruelty with indifference, since they believe the Universe and by extension mankind's behavior to be amoral. There are no moral principles in a fully icy bleak universe by which to judge such actions as good or bad, except one's personal predilections. Such thoughts may seem niche to horror lit aficionados or some pessimistic/existential philosophers, but it is actually becoming more common among university students and more.

In the past one could reference eschatological punishment as a way to persuade individuals not to yield to such sadistic impulses. Now man cannot justify such sentiments within materialist or nihilistic worldview, which has become widespread, and can only rely on pragmatic reasons relating to social cohesion, which are not as strong.

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Old 05-31-2017   #8
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Re: Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

You shouldn't expect any better when you live in a culture where life is seen as cheap, virtues as the domain of old people, literacy as a waste of time and quick satisfaction as the common coin.

It's far more complicated than that, of course. You know that, I know that. This dark stain of the human mind has been here for ages; I have no idea if it seems to be on the rise because we, as individuals, can't help ourselves in believing that ours is a special time (for good or ill) or if, indeed, things are getting more morally bankrupt. The sudden rise of destabilizing technology is probably to blame, although not the sole culprit. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it should not be abused by monkeys.

I used to frequent on of the earliest gore sites on the internet. In fact, I was a moderator there at a time, briefly. I was drawn there by mere morbid curiosity, but after a few months my satisfaction was quenched and I stayed only for the community, which used to be fantastic and dynamic. Today, though, it has degraded into a closed gate neighborhood lorded by white supremacists and other undesirables.

I do fear, though, that something really bad is going to happen. A global conflict, perhaps. One that will reduce those of the last century to the size of mere pebbles. Maybe when we lower ourselves back to the scale of the lowest, most base, of creatures, then maybe we'll emerge back to the light?

Anyway, people die...
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Old 05-31-2017   #9
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Re: Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

At the risk of sounding pithy, I'm suddenly reminded of a lyric from the Jewel song "Hands":

"In the end only kindness matters"

Or, for those interested in a more highbrow point of view, the following quote from Grant Morrison's The Invisibles:

"Amid all the bangs and the drama and the grand passions, it's kindness and just ordinary goodness that stands out in the end."

Reminds me of the final revelations of William S. Burroughs, now that I think about it.

"The Outsider must find a direction and commit himself to it, not lie moping about the meaninglessness of the world."
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Old 05-31-2017   #10
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Re: Will cruelty and horror become normalized?

Maybe it is just my state of mind at the moment, but I can't believe how disturbing I find this thread. There's a reason I prefer to keep my head in the sand at most times, I suppose...
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