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Entertaining Violence

Edited by Kristy Bryant-Berg, 2nd edition


Entertaining Violence is inspired by several ongoing paradoxes surrounding fictional violence: it simultaneously attracts and repels us, it inseparably reflects and affects our world, and it both inspires passionate pleas for artistic freedom and provokes demands for censorship.

The first section of the casebook, “From Critical Imitation to Virtual Simulation,” features articles and essays from diverse experts, such as sociologists, lawyers, media critics, fans and artists, considering the various effects of fictional violence portrayed in television, films and video games, on individual viewers and our wider culture. In order to inspire students to develop their own original interpretations of the provocative monsters brought to life in selected stories, “Chasing the Meaning Behind the Monstrous” includes a handful of critical interpretations that open up many symbolic possibilities underlying our most enduring fictional frights. Finally, “The Ethics of Photojournalism” moves beyond fiction and entertainment to examine images of real-life violence and tragedy in relation to the goals, tools, and responsibilities of photojournalism.


Unit 1: From Critical Imitation to Virtual Simulation

  • Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Excerpts from On Combat
  • Gerard Jones, “Shooters”
  • Sean T. Collins, “Anita Sarkeesian on GamerGate”
  • Honorable Donald E. Shelton, “The ‘CSI Effect’: Does it Really Exist?
  • John Grisham, “Unnatural Killers”
  • Oliver Stone, “Memo to John Grisham: What’s Next–‘A Movie Made Me Do It’?”
  • Daniel Stephens, “Top Ten Films to Have Driven People to Murder”
  • Noah Gerlatsky, “The Wrong Way to Talk about Violence in Movies”
  • Michael Zimecki, “Violent Films Cry ‘Fire’ in Crowded Theaters”
  • Oliver Gettell, “Dark Knight Rises shooting: Six Film Critics Respond”

Unit 2: Chasing the Meaning Behind the Monstrous

  • Joni Richards Bodart, “Here Be Monsters–Who and Why”
  • Neil Gaiman, “Ghosts in the Machine”
  • Edgar Allen Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”
  • H.P. Lovecraft, “The Outsider”
  • Daniel Richler, Foreward to Carmilla
  • Sheridan Le Fanu, Excerpt from Carmilla
  • Bram Stoker, Excerpt from Dracula

Unit 3: The Ethics of Photojournalism

  • Christopher R. Harris and Paul Martin Lester, “An Ethical Approach,” Visual Journalism
  • Marilyn Manson, “Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?”
  • National Press Photographers Association, “Code of Ethics”
  • David D. Perlmutter and Lesa Hatley Major, “Images of Horror from Fallujah”
  • David Campbell, “Representing Contemporary War”