Is it a mortal sin to relish in fictional violence?

I like watching violent films. I’ve even developed my own little scale to measure how graphic a film is. You could say I relish in film violence. But I don’t look up real life videos of graphic violence. Those scare me. Also, on a somewhat related note, is it a also a mortal sin to enjoy those police chase shows, and those shows that present videos of people doing crazy things and often getting themselves badly hurt? I find myself laughing at them. Is that bad too?

Depending on your age, sometimes it’s curiosity, other times - especially the graphic stuff - enjoying it is problematic.

A look at movie violence from the 1940s and 1950s showed guys getting shot or stabbed or hit with an arrow and falling over - very little blood. Then Dirty Harry shows up and he relishes bringing down the bad guys with “the most powerful handgun in the world.” “Go ahead, punk. Make my day.” Still, people got shot and it wasn’t very graphic. Then you go a few years further and I see my first movie where a sniper hits a guy and blood goes flying. I didn’t like that at all. Then CSI on TV - did we need to see graphic, through the body injuries? No.

So it’s been going downhill since, to the point where cold, graphic, blood flying everywhere violence is like cool or something. I knew combat veterans. I knew people who saw body parts on the battlefield and you know what? They very rarely talked about it. The whole point of the violence was to defeat the bad guys and justice, and to release the populace from a brutal dictator.

Buckets of blood and body parts for fun? No. We should be sick to our stomach, not dull our senses. That’s a human being, even though just an actor, and he is being brutally killed? That should never be called entertainment.


You’re not the only who is wondering about it KidShellen. I wondered about that too actually.

Buckets of blood and body parts for fun? No. We should be sick to our stomach, not dull our senses. That’s a human being, even though just an actor, and he is being brutally killed? That should never be called entertainment.

But what I think KidShellen wondered about, is whether it is a mortal sin if we knowingly and with full consent watch a voilent film where rejoice in the death of the characters? I would appreciate your answer edwest2 (or anyone else for that matter), since I am puzzled by this as well.

If it’s a mortal sin to relish in fictional sex (the CCC does include* simulated* sex acts in its’ definition of pornography) then I should think it would be a mortal sin to willingly relish in simulated violence. I don’t see how violence is less grave (less grievous?) than sex.

I wondered, often, why young people (teens, 20s) went to movies where hatchets and saws and other such things were used in atrocious manner against persons (I still don’t watch that stuff); I wondered why the “horror” of what “might happen”, as portrayed in movies, was such a huge magnet for the young. I no longer wonder.

My life fell apart. Permanently. And the emotional and psychological pain and struggle were so great that I needed an OUTLET, something WORSE, something SO much worse that it took me out of my fear and weakness and allowed me to focus on something fictional, something I knew was SCRIPTED, and people were PAID to enact. I know why the kids go to these movies now: they are terrified. The world is a terrifying place. It is so much worse than when I was in my late teens and 20s, so much worse.

I think these films are a way of dissociating from our personal fear and loss and, even, tragedy. It’s more a psychological issue than a moral issue: after all, are you planning to use this movie to learn how to work a chain saw in order to murder people? Of course not. Do you not think that God understands our fears, our doubts, our internal upheavals, our sufferings? Look what Jesus suffered!

Are there those who are mentally ill and use these films and “games” to feed their illness, without awareness? Yes. Are they are in the majority? I certainly hope not or society is doomed. If you find yourself consistently and over a long period of time attracted to horror, gore, etc., I suggest you find a psychotherapist to help you work through the fear and pain you have not yet acknowledged. It can be done.

I hope not, because frankly, I love me some Quentin Tarantino.

I also find myself fascinated by true crime, forensic files, just about anything on Investigative TV, and Criminal Minds. I can handle just about anything unless it involves children or body dismemberment, then I turn the channel. My husband hates those shows, he likes to watch sports or comedy sitcoms. He said he just doesn’t find those shows edifying. I don’t find them edifying either- he’s asked me why I find that sort of thing so entertaining. I really couldn’t give much of an answer because I didn’t know. What you posted makes so much sense. Several years ago I had pretty much hit a psychological, spiritual, and emotional bottom-actually it was more of an abyss and that’s when I started watching those crazy shows. I had never made that connection before. It’s getting better mostly because I have a small child running about the house and certainly don’t want her to be exposed to that sort of thing.

I would talk to a priest about this.


Yeah, I think that would be best

Yes I am greatly relieved to hear that you are improving. I don’t watch too much “horror” any more either lol, but I was there for a while and it made me realize why. As for interest in forensics and such, this is problem solving at an intuitive level. By problem solving a fictional event (or even an actual case that has been solved), you are actually training your mind and subconsciously working on your own problems. I think too many people see sin in everything and that’s frightening. Yes, some films are sinful (constant sex I mean we know what people do, do we have to watch it? and blasphemy, can they write a script without using the Lord’s name in vain???) and some appear to be intentionally so (insidious propagandizing against Christians, I’ve noticed that a few times in my Netflix orgies lol). But if there is sin in everything, well then it’s hopeless, no one can attain sainthood and we were all designed for it.

I’ve never understood the pornography thing; I guess I just like watching violence better. Fortunately I’m not into both-that would be way too much pathology for me to deal with.
I love sex but watching others do it just makes me feel like some creepy voyeuristic pervert peeking through someone else’s blinds. I have read a few erotic novels over the years though, which some would consider porn. My point is- I never really thought that any sort of entertainment was sinful. The porn stars? I figured they were probably going to hell but not the people watching. I hate the blasphemy too.

Hi, All. Movies are just that movies, and depends on your maturity and the reason you like some fictions; the main thing is distinguishing fact from fiction,in the light of truth of our Catholic faith in Jesus Christ. Children should stay away from some of these as they can be very influential on a developing mind. :twocents:

God Bless All

Being on the sidelines watching something sinful does not excuse the person watching from the consequence of the sin. Watching someone murder someone bears just as much weight as the murderer. Watching porn and assuming the porn stars are going to hell but the people watching pay no price seems ignorant and seems like an excuse to justify partaking in this form of “entertainment.” Watching sinful acts only encourages them and that on its own seems sinful.

As far as watching horror or violent movies/shows…I think a viewer has to be in a good state of mind to be able to digest what is happening, how it relates and how it differs from reality and can determine when to draw the line. At no point should we really be “relishing” in or deriving joy from watching horrific acts. And we should all be able to determine when something has gone too far like graphic rape scenes, excessively abusive crimes against children so on so forth. Things can be implied without being graphic while still maintaining a compelling storyline. Once we start giving in to sitting through such things we desensitize ourselves to such acts and therefore start to numb ourselves to reality.

I, myself, am a fan of horror movies mainly for the suspense and thrill effect. I like the aspect of trying to solve something and also enjoy empathizing with those trying to escape or save loved ones. Such movies also remind me of the horrors people are capable of in reality and reminds me to not only pray continuously for such people and their victims but also in some way helps me to make better decisions to hopefully avoid putting myself in risky or dangerous situations. I also try to avoid overly sexual movies which may cause me to begin to dwell on or want to engage in sexual activity (which as a single woman) is sinful in nature.

As with anything in life, excess tends to lead down the wrong path. We really should try to avoid “relishing” in and “loving” anything that isn’t aligned with God’s will and desires for us.

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