Do You Escape Real Violence with Fictional Violence?

CRIMINAL MINDSWhen you turn on the nightly news, there is no shortage of stories that qualify as disturbing. From world events to the way people are treating one another in our own neighborhoods, the reality that surrounds us can be difficult to consume. So, what do we seek as our escape from the violence? Do you watch a funny movie or cheer on your favorite sports team or spend some time on the floor playing board games with your kids?

One famous actor quit a popular television show because he was concerned that audiences were seeking even more violence as their entertainment and he didn’t want to be a part of it.

Although this happened a couple of years ago, the abrupt exit of Mandy Patinkin from the CBS drama Criminal Minds came to me as I was thinking about what we turn to for recreation. Mr. Patinkin did not show up for a table reading one day and never returned to the set, saying later in an interview that, “I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality.”

And Patinkin’s regrets were not solely focused on his own participation, but on the viewers as well. He noted, “I’m concerned about the effect it has. Audiences all over the world use this programming as their bedtime story. This isn’t what you need to be dreaming about.”

I am a student of criminal behavior and find all stories featuring such psychology, if well done, to be fascinating. But is there is a reason to be concerned over this type of programming? Does it sensationalize violence or worry viewers into thinking the threat is around every corner? Conversely, does it desensitize us to the brutality when we see real violence as those lines are blurred?

I would love to read your thoughts on this topic.

If you are a fan of Criminal Minds or other such shows, what draws you to them?

Or do you find that when the news of the real world gets too tough, the last thing you want to do is watch more violence?


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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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5 Responses to Do You Escape Real Violence with Fictional Violence?

  1. suecoletta says:

    I don’t know if this is what you’re looking for, but I watch all of these types of shows because I am a crime fiction writer. I consider them research, and they get my creative juices flowing.


    • Thanks so much for your comment 🙂 I agree it definitely helps with the creative juices — but I do think that sometimes we are bombarded with so much death and violence. There is definitely a balance to maintain.


  2. drshaywest says:

    I watch shows like this all the time as well as true crime shows. And while I do use some of it as fodder for my novels, I like watching shows where the good guys get the bad guys. And it reiterates the truly difficult and thankless job cops and detectives do every day and makes me grateful they are willing to put their lives on the line.


  3. sowrite says:

    I watch these shows because I write about crime and because I like puzzle solving and seeing the bad guys/women get caught


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