HSPs, Violence, and Guardians of the Galaxy

Honestly I have no idea what to write about. Guardians of the Galaxy? the book I just read about HSPs? how much I hate head colds that keep me from attending a wedding?

Let’s go with a combo of the first two. My sister talked our whole family into going with her to see Guardians of the Galaxy yesterday. After being … let’s just say less than impressed with the trailers, I found that I actually enjoyed the film for the most part. I’d thought it would be the characters or humor or plot that would be the part I didn’t enjoy, but that wasn’t it.

It was the violence. You expect a certain level of violence in a Marvel superhero film. But at least in The Avengers they were trying to minimize casualties and none of the main characters enjoys killing. The Guardians do (spoiler warning) save an entire planet, but there’s a lot of collateral damage in a mining colony that no one seems concerned about, and Rocket Raccoon, Drax, and Groot are all seen laughing or grinning while killing people. The deaths are played for audience laughs too, like when Groot grows a tree limb through about 5 bad guys and batters them around inside a spaceships corridor to kill them and their companions. I think Peter Quinn and I were the only ones in the theater not laughing.

If you take Elaine Aron’s self-test for High Sensitivity, one of the questions is “True or False: I make a point to avoid violent movies and TV shows.” When I first took the test, I answered “false.” I wouldn’t watch things with what I considered excessive violence, but I would watch the occasional Criminal Minds episode and I had seen too many R-rated movies to count on one hand (but just barely, and most in a film class at college). Even so, during our yearly re-watching of The Lord of the Rings, I’d leave the room for most of the Battle of Helm’s Deep and if I was watching Henry V on my own I hit the skip button for Agincourt.

Now I think I’d answer “true,” partly because I’m being honest about how I’ve approached violent media in the past and partly because I’m becoming more aware of how violence affects me. I had to stop watching Criminal Minds because the nightmares got too bad (and even after I quit, they came back after reading Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue). I almost wished I hadn’t seen X-Men: Days of Future Past in theaters because the battle scenes were so dark and raw (almost — wouldn’t give up seeing the character development for young Professor X and Magneto). And I was troubled by Guardians of the Galaxy.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who flinches when a character gets stabbed, punched, kicked, shot or otherwise maimed. That there’s other people who think even superhero movies could do with fewer explosions, mayhem, and destruction. Or maybe I could stop watching movies … nah. I’ll probably skip The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, though, at least till DVD, and (spoiler warning) delay the inevitable deaths of all my favorite dwarves for as long as possible.

I’ll still go see Avengers: Age of Ultron, though. Probably for the same reason I let my sister talk me into seeing Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel films are addictive.

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7 thoughts on “HSPs, Violence, and Guardians of the Galaxy

  1. For me, it depends. If I feel the violence is senseless, it sickens me. I find it hard to watch episodes of “Hell on Wheels” because the violence is just… sick. It’s not even that graphic, but it’s still sick, brutal, and repulsive.

    Everyone loved “Man of Steel.” I sat there with my jaw hanging open, watching him total Metropolis without a second thought, as buildings came crashing down — presumably on top of people. The Superman I grew up with saves people; he doesn’t ignore them and let buildings smash them into dust, while fighting the bad guy.

    Realistic violence in historical fiction is also hard to take. While I love “The Patriot,” its violence reminds me that stuff like this actually happened / happens to people in war, which makes it hard to watch. I find I am affected much less by over-the-top, unrealistic fantasy violence than the more brutal, realistic stuff (I got the shakes watching “The Pianist,” which isn’t even that gruesome; but I can sit through the black blood of “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” without any trouble… because it’s fake!).

    LotR gets too violent for me at times; oddly enough, what bothers me most is violence against women (and there’s a lot of it these days; even the super hero females get the tar beat out of them regularly), children (rare), and animals (too frequent for my taste). My limit on LotR is usually reached at the Battle of Pellenor Fields, where horses and riders go down en masse. I didn’t care for the dwarves pulling the legs off a spider in the second “Hobbit” film, either.

    I don’t like brutality — the fist to fist stuff. I’d rather have a sword fight than a boxing match. There’s something I just don’t like about people beating one another up.

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    • Yea, senseless and gratuitous violence is the worst. I haven’t watched Man of Steel yet for that reason. I’d also rather watch a sword fight than a boxing match (though I’ve seen some pretty brutal sword sequences, too). Depending on the specific setting and fight, it seems like a more “civilized” (less brutal) kind of violence. Like, I can’t imagine the sword fight as the end of The Scarlet Pimpernel film with Anthony Andrews being replaced with a fist-fight. It would have ruined that scene.

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      • YES!!

        My mom can’t understand this in me. She thinks violence is violence, but there’s something so much more primal and disturbing about physical violence (fist fighting) than there is duels. My grandmother and I had a war every time we watched “Bonanza” together, because she wanted to skip every other day in her belief that one day, there would be a gunfight (she didn’t want to watch the gunfight) and the next day, there would be a brawl (which she was fine with; her dad was a boxer). I preferred the gunfight! 😀

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  2. There’s plenty of deaths in the avengers. You see all the people looking for missing family and friends at the end. Having heroes save everyone on comics doesn’t quite translate as smoothly onto film and it would be absurd not to expect deaths when god like characters use a city as an mma ring.
    Also, one of the things that makes gotg stand out from other heroes groups is that they aren’t heroes initially. They’re all out for themselves. The creators of the movie even said they’re each their own Han solos, and if you know Han, he isn’t above shooting people in the face.
    Hate to call it, but being selective about the type of violence you prefer is a tad hypocritical. Violence is violence.

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    • I’m not saying there weren’t a high number of casualties in the Avengers — I meant to point out there’s a difference between a gang of superheroes who laugh while they’re slaughtering other creatures and a group of superheroes who tries to save as many lives as possible.
      I can see how you could say my preference for watching a sword fight rather than a boxing match is hypocritical. On that sort of level, I’ll admit violence is violence, even if I have an easier time watching one type than the other. But on a larger scale, is it hypocritical to be selective about, say, watching PG-13 violence but not R-rated violence? or preferring characters who don’t enjoy killing?

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  3. You’re definitely not the only one who flinches. For years, as a teenager, I couldn’t understand why I felt so emotionally connected to characters, especially when there was violence involved. Now I know I’m a HSP and I’m more mindful of what I watch. One thing I’ve noticed and something I’m grateful for is that I’ve never been conditioned to be ok with it. I could see someone get stabbed 20 times in a movie and cringe just as much as the first time. That said, I love the Marvel movies and I’ll generally go opening weekend to see the newest ones. I may be counting down the days until I see The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron on that note. So excited!

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    • I’m counting down the days until Avengers 2 as well 🙂 I’ll most likely go opening weekend with my siblings. There are some things I’ll avoid because they are too violent, but I enjoy most of the Marvel movies enough to endure the violence.

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