Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

A discussion on all aspects of Engaged Buddhism
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cnawan
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Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by cnawan » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:38 pm

What is the engaged Buddhists' response to violence in the media as entertainment (television, movies, videos, apps, etc)? How are Buddhists' engaged? Are there more collective social responses taking affirmative action, besides the personal action/choice to abstain from consuming/funding such violent entertainment?

In Thich Nhat Hanh's, Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices (2009), he writes of the "Five Mindfulness Trainings". https://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-pra ... trainings/. The fifth is "Nourishment and Healing":

"Nourishment and Healing
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth"

I am posting this questions because I am writing a research paper for my Masters program on this topic and and finding little response and am wondering why. Laura Saher

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fwiw
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by fwiw » Wed Nov 21, 2018 3:58 am

Personally I just boycott them. I just can't stand violence purely as entertainment any more

I don't know that we could take a lot of efficient affirmative action in this case, which is probably why you have so little response. People are massively trying the same with the climate to very little effect. I would guess most people view fighting the positive image of violence as too long a shot to spend too much time trying to change it. I can understand though that parents who saw their child sucked up in such violent entertainments, go on to join the military and then got killed in action may feel much more strongly on the issue.
... in my opinion

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by Kim O'Hara » Wed Nov 21, 2018 4:55 am

fwiw wrote:
Wed Nov 21, 2018 3:58 am
Personally I just boycott them. I just can't stand violence purely as entertainment any more

I don't know that we could take a lot of efficient affirmative action in this case, which is probably why you have so little response.
That's pretty much what I was going to say.
I would have added that Buddhists in the West are such a small minority that the even smaller Engaged fraction of them/us has no chance of swaying public opinion on this issue, so individual action (boycott/avoid) is almost the only ethical action we can take.

:namaste:
Kim

chownah
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by chownah » Wed Nov 21, 2018 5:10 am

Cnawan,
Perhaps you could suggest some avenues for buddhist engagement on this issue.
chownah

cnawan
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by cnawan » Wed Dec 19, 2018 2:15 pm

I asked this question in this forum because I was hoping to understand why I was finding such a limited response by engaged Buddhism to violence in the media for a research paper I was writing. I never discovered why there was such a limited response, but discovered the opportunity for engagement. Here is a summary of what I included in my paper:

Given the clear mandate within Buddhism advocating against violence, there is an opportunity for socially engaged Buddhism for skillful engagement to stop the depiction of violence in the media. Given the power of the entertainment media industry and Americans’ craving or appetite for violence in the media, a cultural change would be needed to make violence in the media unacceptable. That said, personal engagement and choosing not to engage with violent media is not enough to create culture change.

I recommended the following actions for engaged Buddhism:
1) Wise speech or mindful expression to oppose violence in media and foster cultural change.
2) Wise action to actively and publicly choose not to consume violence in the media. To not contribute to the bottom-line and profits of the companies who develop, produce, distribute, and advertise violent media. To not spend money and purchase products from the supporters or advertisers of the organizations in the media violence industry. Wise action to protest, sit in, or bear witness. Wise action to engage with politicians and other organizations to develop policy and legislature to limit or eliminate media violence. Finally, wise action to support non-violent media as entertainment, including Buddhist media and TV, like the Buddhist Film Foundation, the Buddhist Channel, the Buddhist True Network and the Buddhist Media Network or Buddhist TV.
3) To cultivate compassion as the antidote to violence and to reduce the social legitimization of violence in the media.

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Kim O'Hara
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by Kim O'Hara » Wed Dec 19, 2018 10:18 pm

Thanks, cnawan. I think that what you wrote is great, and I think all of us would agree with it.
It's a big project, however.

:candle:
Kim

Cinnabar
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by Cinnabar » Thu Feb 07, 2019 4:39 pm

I'm really triggered by violence because of my exposure to violence when I was younger. I'm also a fan of the arts, film in particular. And it's difficult to escape violence in the arts. Violence is articulated for a variety of reasons in the arts. Sometimes historical or in the creation of a narrative. Sometimes to develop a character. Sometimes to explore injustice. Sometimes it is just a form of pornography. It's just aimed to stimulate.

I have to be careful as unmindful exposure to violence damages my mind. It makes me edgy. It can make me depressed and withdrawn. It can also make me aggressive. It all depends on how I work with my mind as I'm exposed to it.

One of my teachers is a film fan. He pointed out that narratives in film and TV can help us generate compassion. So there is a fork in the road. Watch a film and just get triggered had have one's mind polluted. Or use the film, TV, or literature as the basis for generating compassion. Relate to the characters. Love them. Feel them. Exchange self and others. Of course that's not real lo jong practice. The people aren't real. But even a dream is a valid basis for training in compassion. So why not the arts?

What that boils down to, more often than not, is the artistic quality of the material and my mind set. I can control my mind set, but I can't control the artistry of a writer or film-maker. If content is just low quality-- it will do nothing but agitate the mind. If the artistry is exceptional, then it can be the basis for practice.

One of my favorite movies is Incendies by the Canadian director Denis Villeneuve. It's about a young man and woman who, after their mother's death, learn that their father was their mother's torturer during a civil war. I have seen it a few times. I have to lay down afterwards. Why do that to myself? Well. It is so well done, it really triggered an appreciation for the horror of judicial torture, rape as terror-- better than any journalistic report.

On the other hand-- Kill Bill, Saw, stuff like that-- poison. To me at least.

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Polar Bear
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by Polar Bear » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:26 pm

I must admit I indulge in violent tv. My plan is to give up non-educational television after this last season of Game of Thrones airs though. So I’ll still watch science and nature docs and important news stories. I hope to read more books as a result of giving up on tv-as-pure-entertainment.

:anjali:

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Polar Bear
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by Polar Bear » Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:42 pm

Out of curiosity and as an inspirational aid to myself, I’d be interested in hearing when, why, and how any of you quit watching violent television or tv period.

:anjali:

Cinnabar
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by Cinnabar » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:52 pm

I quit watching TV about 20 years ago. Shortly after that I stopped listening to network radio. And shortly after that I stopped reading newspapers and magazines.

The media content I consume now amounts to: selective internet news sources, blogs, forums, collaborative writing spaces, and specific creative media-- film, music, books.

Dharmawheel .net & .org are a real stretch for me. I don't read dharma magazines.

It really wasn't a difficult process. I mostly lost interest in them after certain experiences.

The thread is about violence, so I'll cast it in those terms. Violence-- but not just in a BANGBANG sense. I just noticed that consuming these media has substantial effects on me. They impacted how I saw the world and interacted with other people. It changed my world view. There's nothing wrong with having one's perspectives changed. It's just nice if it's intentional.

Content would make me agitated, pessimistic, or more aggressive. It might distract me. It was self-inflicted emotional, intellectual and spiritual violence. There is a sampling bias to it as well. That decalibrates the importance of things in life. Detunes our sense of risk.

After the 2016 election I really cut deeper and dropped more media. I felt very much not myself. Now we see that social media was manipulated for political gains. I cut off social media for a year or more. I spent that time specifically talking with the "other side" on line. People with radically different politics than my own. Even white supremacists, nationalists. Finding common ground.

Now I use some social media too.

The BANGBANG violence was problematic too. Sensational as opposed to realistic. I posted about working with violence in film and the arts to generate compassion and to learn to relate to people. Little of that on TV. Even "documentaries".

I watch Game of Thrones. I just started really. Season 5. For me that is different than really watching TV. I get the DVD's at the library.

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Ceisiwr
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Re: Engaged Buddhists' Response to Violence in the Media as Entertainment

Post by Ceisiwr » Wed May 22, 2019 7:29 pm

cnawan

Wise action to engage with politicians and other organizations to develop policy and legislature to limit or eliminate media violence.

This would be an attack on free speech and expression, so its a no from me.

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