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Violent Movies, Violent Minds?

Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world?

Really, the question boils down to how susceptible people are to cultural factors.

I’m a big fan of horror. Stephen King is my homeboy. I, like most people, am exposed to violent images on a daily basis. I watch Criminal Minds, I play Grand Theft Auto, I get my Pokémon to beat up other Pokémon. Strangely, I’ve never killed anyone.

Certainly, a person is influenced by their culture. Popular culture influences what we wear, listen to and read about in trashy magazines. And certainly, we attempt to duplicate it on some level. That’s how culture works. If Jennifer Lawrence is swanning about in platform sneakers and a velour tracksuit, and you want to be cool, then by gosh you better go out and rustle up some platform sneakers and a velour tracksuit. (Please don’t do this! Fashion begs you!) But this doesn’t cause much harm (except to fashion!).

So can the media influence us to do things we wouldn’t usually? Like hurt somebody else? Let’s have a personal example. I was watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation recently. I would advise you not to do so. It was terrible. Afterwards I wanted to erase the experience from my memory. what I didn’t do was pull out my chainsaw and go to town on my neighbours. For violence in movies to inspire violence in yourself, I think you need to be predisposed towards violence. I doubt it encourages us to re-enact violence. But I think it may desensitise us to violence. If violence saturates the media then it becomes just another everyday occurrence and, to an extent, normalised. I think that perhaps violence in the media influences our reaction to violence: over-exposure leads us to view violent acts as less shocking than they really are. But I don’t think it causes us to be violent. To say so would be to believe humans have no agency of their own.

To put the blame solely on violent movies or video games neglects the influence other social factors have on us, such as family, friends, education and religion. If violent media does influence violent tendencies, then it is simply one part of a bigger problem; indicative of a society that tolerates violence.

Well that’s what I think. This post was inspired by a Daily Post challenge. If you want, read what others are saying, or add your own thoughts in a comment or blog post of your own. But why do that when you can just read what I think?! A hardy-ha-ha. ‘Til next time!

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I’m Back, Baby!

Hello computer.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I’d tried the whole blogging thing for a while and while it was fun I wasn’t really getting the result I was looking for. I never set out thinking I would be world-famous and everyone would read my blog but I’ll admit I was a little disillusioned with the tiny number of readers I was attracting. Again, I never started this blog for attention but it seemed like I was putting in a lot more effort than I was getting out of it. There were still lots of things I could have blogged about but seeming as it was basically just me reading them it seemed easier to just think about them by myself and not bother with the whole typing up and maintaining the blog business.

But…

The odd thing is this blog is actually maintaining visitors. In fact, visitor numbers have actually increased since I stopped blogging. (Oh! That sounds a lot sadder now that I’ve typed it.)

Anyway…

I’ve been doing a lot of Wordzly-related stuff in real life. I’m busy writing and reading and I’m really serious about expanding on and solidifying that. Seeing those increased numbers (they’re still really low lol!) has buoyed my confidence and I want to give this blog another go. Who knows how long it will last? But I’m willing to start up again now that I have a new focus. In the past, I engaged with sort of abstract ideas on reading, writing and words. I’ll still probably continue to engage with that but also incorporate a lot more of a personal element. My passion in life is to become a writer (OMG!! I’ve never actually told anyone this before!) so I’m hoping this blog will document my journey. And maybe when I’m an amazing established author I can look back and see my journey to success!! Basically, there will be more of a focus on my own writing, my plans for the future and how I perceive the realm of writing. Or whatever. Who knows!!

I am excited though to give this another shot and hopefully things will keep getting better. 🙂 Link me to all your friends!!!!!!!! (JK but maybe?…)

End of the World

So the world didn’t even end. Bummer.

But wait, there’s still time! With NASA officially stating that there was no impending doom from the usual suspects – meteors, volcanoes, George Bush’s surprise re-election – we may have to look to some less-likely apocalypses. Here’s my pick for 2012!

Justin Bieber fan-girl rampage

Cooties outbreak

Squirrel uprising

Everyone runs in the same direction, speeding up the Earth’s rotation and causing it to age 1 billion years

Pluto’s revenge

Poisoned M & M’s

Somebody turns off the sun

Exploding puppies

The 75th Hunger Games

Tectonic plates pretend to be bumper cars

Sparkly vampires

Sparkly zombies

Vampire-zombies

Vesuvius: This Time It’s Personal!

The internet breaks – Oh God! We’re doomed!!!

 

Happy end of the world, everyone!

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Candy House

Weee!! Halloween is my favourite holiday. Scares for all! What would be more fitting tonight than a scary little story from yours truly? I do so hope you enjoy. Come on, step inside the candy house.

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It’s Halloween, my favourite holiday, the only night it’s acceptable to take candy from strangers.

Perhaps I’m getting too old for trick-or-treating but my friend Mark and I go every year, it’s like a tradition. Plus I’ve already got my costume – sexy Red Riding Hood. Mark’s going as a vampire. So original. It’s dark out, only a sliver of moon in the sky. There’s a slight fog heading in. Perfect Halloween weather. We set off on our usual path; we’ve done this enough to know which houses give the goods and which aren’t worth the time.

After maybe three quarters of an hour we stop to check our progress. It’s a good haul this year, maybe one of the best. Of course, we’ll need to sample some first before we can make a final verdict. Mark and I drop down on the grass and have a quick rifle through, peeling off the wrappers from a few choice selections. I think we’ve earned a little reward for all our hard work. I’m taking my first bite when I hear a high-pitched giggle from somewhere behind me. My head whips around as I scan the edge of the woods behind me. It’s too dark to see anything. Probably just some dumb kids. Except now there’s murmuring. And it sounds closer. There’s definitely more than one person. I motion to Mark. He’s heard it too. I bet it’s someone’s lame idea of a prank. That’s the point of Halloween, right? To scare people. Not that I’m scared.

“Come on,” I tell Mark, “Let’s show them how immature they’re being”. I walk to the edge of the woods and peer in once more. How far in are they?  I look back to where Mark’s hovering at our candy bags. Some help he is. I take a few tentative steps in amongst the trees. Not too far. I mean, I don’t want to get lost. They’re whispering again but the trees distort the sound and I can’t work out where it’s coming from. There’s a rustling to my left. I turn around but there’s no one there. Now it’s coming from my right. It seems to be coming from all around me. How is that possible? How many people are out here? Fine. Whatever. I don’t care anymore. I turn around to go and that’s when someone grabs my arm. I scream and spin around to see who it is. And I scream again. Because staring at me are two big grinning Jack O’Lanterns, looming over me and laughing. OK, they’re not laughing. The kids wearing them are laughing. Mark races to my side. Finally.

“What’s going on?” he ask, as the two kids pull the pumpkins off their heads.

“Trick or treat!” they both squeal. “Got you good!”

Oh great. It’s Jenna and Jonah. They’re these two kids – brother and sister – in my class that moved here like a month ago. Now the whole school’s going to hear about this. Or maybe not. Jenna and Jonah are totally weird and keep to themselves.

“So funny,” I retort, “Not!” Yeah, that sucked but let’s see you think of a comeback when you’ve just been scared stupid.

Jenna and Jonah are both giggling like a pair of lunatics as they skip over to where we left our candy.

“Trick or treat. Trick or treat,” they chant together, “so many lovely things to eat!”

“Eat your own,” I say, “this is ours.”

And that’s when I notice. Their bags are totally empty.

“I hope your stupid joke was worth it,” I say, “because you’ve basically missed out on any candy now. People stop handing it out soon.”

“Doesn’t matter”, Jenna says.

“We’ve got a secret,” Jonah chimes in, “Want to hear it?”

“No”, Mark and I both reply. Although I kind of do.

“We only need one house,” Jenna mocks, “And we’ll get more candy than both of you”.

Yeah, for sure.

“Prove it”, I say. “Go trick-or-treat at one house and show us how good you are.”

They turn and grin wildly at one another. “Deal”, they say together.

I start to step onto the street to cross over to the house opposite but Jenna calls out to me.

“No! It’s got to be the right house. The candy house.”

What are they even talking about? I told you they were weird.

“The secret house. The candy house. It always gives out unlimited candy”, Jonah adds.

Why have I never head of this? Unlimited candy? Mark and I have been wasting our time. Not that I believe anything these two dorks are saying.

“Fine,” I sigh. “Where is this stupid house?”

“Through the woods”, they reply.

Are you kidding me? Like I want to go tramping through the woods with these two losers on Halloween.

“Let’s leave these kids”, I say to Mark as I pick up my bag.

But Mark isn’t listening. “How far is it?” he asks.

Jenna and Jonah share another smile.

“Not far.”

Mark turns to me. I can’t believe it. He actually wants to go.

“If you’re lying…” I say to the two of them.

“Never lie to a very best friend”, Jenna chants.

Great. Now they think we’re friends.

They set off, skipping madly through the woods.

“Candy house. Candy house. What will you get at the candy house?”

Seriously, are these two brain-damaged?

Mark and I are struggling to keep up. They’re practically running and we’ve got to carry our half-full bags of candy.

“Slow down for a minute,” I say, “some of us have an extra load”.

Jenna stops suddenly and grabs my bag out of my hands before I can react. The next second she’s dumped it all out on the ground.

“What the hell?” I cry out hotly.

“You don’t need it. You’ll forget about it once we’re at the candy house.”

Jonah scoops a few pieces off the ground and throws them at me.

“Trick or treat! Trick or treat! So many lovely things to eat!”

They both set off again and I reluctantly follow. If I don’t get at least double the candy I had, Jenna can come back and pick up every last piece for me.

It feels like we’ve been walking for ages and I’m about to complain when Jenna and Jonah stop.

“The candy house”, they say in hushed tones.

I can’t believe it. I thought we were just cutting through the woods but there’s actually a house all alone out here. It looks ancient, like a haunted house. What’s a house doing out in the woods anyway? Jenna grabs my hand.

“Come on.”

You know what? I don’t want to get any closer. Something creeps me out about the house.

“No way anyone lives here. Let’s go back”, I say.

“No!” Jenna shouts. She sounds angry. “The candy house.”

She starts pulling me towards it. Jonah does the same with Mark.

I decide to obey. The sooner they realise no one lives here, the sooner we can leave. The four of us crowd around the front door.

“Ring it”, Jonah tells me.

What? This was their idea, not mine. I can tell Mark’s having second thoughts. There’s no way I can let him know how scared I am. Slowly, I extend a finger and press down on the doorbell. I can’t hear anything. It probably doesn’t even work.

“No one’s home,” I say, “let’s go”.

“Knock”, Jenna orders.

I knock on the door. It swings open against my touch. Inside it’s dark. I can barely see a thing. It’s pretty obvious this house is abandoned. And then Jenna just walks straight in.

“What are you doing?” I hiss.

“Candy time”, she replies.

OK, she’s clearly mental. Where does she expect to get candy from in here?

“Come in,” Jenna beckons, “come inside the candy house”.

I hesitate. Jonah shoves me roughly from behind.

“Candy time”, he says.

They shepherd Mark and me inside the house and we stand awkwardly in the entrance.

“OK, great. We came, we saw, it was a complete waste of time,” I say, “Let’s go”.

That’s when Jonah closes the door. He looks to his sister and they both grin. Oh God, their teeth are glowing in the dark. Why are they so sharp?

“Candy time”, they say.

Jenna grabs my arm with a vice-like grip. Jonah pins Mark’s behind him. They both start chanting once more:

“Trick or treat! Trick or treat! So many lovely things to eat!”

Internet Apocalypse

Some of my regular readers (one can hope!) may have noticed my bloggy absence lately, and would no doubt be gutted at the recently pathetic output of my techno tidbits. Fortunately, I am not dead. But my internet had been for the last week or so. And the burning question I had been asking myself as I stumbled through the no-web wasteland of real life is ‘Can we live without the internet?’

Obviously we can, in the sense that a broadband connection is not a biological necessity, but does our life have any worth if we live it unplugged? Ok, so I’m being sarcastic. We don’t need the internet. We managed perfectly fine without it for several thousand years. But in our modern technophile lifestyle the internet undoubtedly plays a very large part. It seems there are more Facebook accounts than there are people in the world (and with people making Facebook profiles for their unborn foetus babies, that may very well be true). Anything you can do in real life, you can do online quicker. I wouldn’t call myself an internet addict but I would use it nearly every day.

Surprisingly, I carried on with life rather easily during my time offline. It suddenly didn’t matter that I had no way of knowing what everyone was eating for lunch or which pseudo celebrity was trending.

I hadn’t even seen Gangnam Style until my friend forced me to watch it last weekend. (It was mildly amusing but I feel no need to ever watch it again or force ‘Oppa Gangnam style!’ into casual conversation.)

My regular internet activity just seemed so mundane and pointless when viewed in the cold light of real-life-not-Tumblr-Instagram-or-Reddit day. (Clarification: I visit none of these sites. I’m not even sure how to Tumble). So why as a society are so obsessed with the internet? Are our lives that depressing that we resort to acting out a better one online? I mean, does anyone really need to see another cat picture?

OMG! Memes! I could write a whole post on memes (and I probably will now that I’ve thought of it). I just don’t get the point of them. If you were to repeat a phrase ad nauseum in real life, everyone you knew would desert you. You would probably be confined to a mental institution. Seriously, what’s up with memes?

Oh well. Better go tweet this.

Spring Reading Catalogue

Spring (or Autumn, for any northerners) is almost here, and with it comes an exciting array of new books sure to excite and entertain. It seems as if an infinite supply of new books are being written every day on an equally infinite number of topics. Just over half of those are vampire novels. But regardless of your reading style, you are bound to find something you love. Of course, you don’t have the time to sift through every new book looking for the one that will capture your heart. You’re far too busy! You have a life to live! Fortunately, I do not, and so having obtained a sneak glimpse of some of the new exciting books coming our way I want to share them with you. Will you find your new favourite? (Click on links for a sneak peek inside each book!)

The Big Book of Dermabrasion

A great coffee table book  that’s always on hand for lazy Sunday afternoons or as a conversation starter at small fondue parties. The Big Book of Dermabrasion makes a great belated gift for Mother’s Day, or why not just treat yourself?

Philosophical Musings of Willow Smith

Celebrity autobiographies are unavoidable but few are written with such insight and clarity as Willow Smith’s. Reflecting on her many years in the entertainment industry, Smith’s work is poignant and witty as she delves into the psychology behind pop stardom, teen idols, Carly Rae Jepsen and ending world poverty.

How to Tell if Your Child is Mexican

All parenting books seem to churn out the same useless information, but here we have a parenting book that’s not afraid to face facts and tell it how it is. How to Tell if Your Child is Mexican is a great read for first-time parents or really any parent who wants to brush up on their parenting skills. Written by renowned child psychologist and hardcore fundamentalist John A. Flapjack, How to Tell if Your Child is Mexican covers those curly questions parents are too afraid to ask. What if my child is Mexican? How will I cope? Where can I seek help? Do I qualify for welfare? We all can learn a lot from this book.

Ayn Rand Rates the Sexiness of Pokémon

Ayn Rand is one of literature’s finest writers, and once again she delivers a book of crisp prose, beautiful storytelling and real depth. Exploring new ground, Rand brings her trademark style to the world of Pokémon. If you have ever asked yourself is Ludicolo sexier than Chansey, then this book has the answer. This is THE definitive list of sexiest Pokémon. How will your favourite stack up?

50 Shades of Twilights

Another brilliant and original addition to the tween vampire romance genre. 50 Shades of Twilights captures modern youth culture with devastating beauty and truth. Every girl will immediately fall in love with the burgeoning romance of Krystal and Rothbart. What a beautiful book. I wept for days.

Preface

Welcome to Wordzly: the wonderful world of words! I created this blog to share my passion for words, reading and writing.

I hope to explore the interesting and curious side of words, how they work, what they do and how we use them.

I’ll also be indulging my love for books. Expect reviews and my thoughts on the role of books in our lives, where the future of books is heading, what makes a book good (or bad!) and anything that pops into my head along the way.

Undoubtedly, my obsession with detective fiction will shine through. Those that share my obsession will cheer rapturously and perhaps those that do not may do so eventually.

Like writing itself, hopefully my little blog will continue to grow and evolve over time. I hope I shall enjoy its journey and I hope you shall too.

‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, very gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop’. – Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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