You have to look at what was done in movies prior to 1970. It was possible to show gangsters and war and lots of people dying without seeing blood squirting everywhere and body parts and people cussing and swearing.
As the years passed, I remember seeing my first movie where blood flew after a guy was shot. Alien was a good movie but it could have been great without Ripley yelling profanities. Gradually, what was suggested became more and more explicit and graphic.
Let’s look at Saving Private Ryan. In Germany, viewers thought the beginning came close to showing what actually happened. In the United States, a combat veteran said that if it wanted to be realistic, it would have to be an order of magnitude beyond what it was.
Terminator 2 was almost great but the profanity kept getting in the way. I know there are people who ignore it but it bothers me. A comedian recently said that “There’s no such thing as bad language.” Who appointed him “Man in Charge of What Everybody Thinks?” Huh?
Seriously. Let’s look at this closely. Are we becoming insensitive to the profanity, the blow 'em away violence with blood flying everywhere? Do stories really need that?
Speaking as a professional editor and writer, the answer is no. I have helped create worlds and characters for the media company I work for. I was in creative meetings for a computer game. I was pointing out the elements of storytelling for a college graduate who wants to write screenplays. For people who have never been struck by a bullet, there is little physical reaction. We wince or go - “Ow. That must’ve hurt.” But we don’t feel the impact and the pain.
The Star Wars movies did not have the profanity. When the one on one fighting got intense, you felt heightened emotion. I think that set of films was solid science fiction and solid storytelling, whether you like Ewoks or not.
I don’t want to close my eyes at the bad parts either. I’m tired of accomodatimg myself to the media. It’s better to abandon media that has gone too far. I remember when the first Dirty Harry movie came out. It seemed like he was justified in simply taking out the bad guys with “The most powerful handgun in the world.” But it soon became obvious that it was a kind of a series of revenge films to avoid justice and to just kill those evil men where they stood. This kind of anti-hero was not a good trend. The man who works with the law in part but then takes it into his own hands to provoke becoming judge, jury and executioner.
Instead of being passive, we should consider what we’re watching for our own good.