When Domestic and Sexual Violence Becomes Entertainment
Since the moment Amber Heard managed to convince us that pooping in a bed is a reasonable approach to revenge, we’ve been riveted. We’re engrossed like a king on his porcelain throne, deliberating as he issues his edict.
I guess things have changed since the good ole days of the Honeymooners when one could threaten to hit one’s spouse (pow) right in the kisser, getting a laugh but never taking a swing. Now we’re captured by episodic cross-examinations about the aftermath of such kisser hittings being carried out. If you’ve ever walked past a train wreck or an unsightly wardrobe malfunction, I get it; you have to look—and I’m not faulting us for that. We’re human.
But things are starting to get weird. Not just between Amber and Johnny but for all of us.
The jury is in, and they have a verdict. And that verdict? The jury finds this trial has been one of the most popular topics on the internet, thanks to non-stop reels on multiple social media platforms.
The verdict is "guilty" because our guilty pleasure has been looking at domestic and sexual violence and calling it great television.
I don't know how algorithms work, but I do know a little about incentives and basic math. We get more of what we click on, and we've clicked on every hot moment in the trial that lasted seven weeks, even if it felt like seven months. The trial has gone from a dark topic to a dark comedy, with courtroom soundbites wrapped in sound effects and motion graphics.
The abuse that took place between Johnny and Amber was a shame, it was also an op-ed and an opportunity to sell ads – and probably movies.
The internet is not the only place where domestic violence has become popular. It's actually become quite popular in real life, unfortunately. We can talk about domestic and sexual violence, which has not always been the case. That's a step forward. By some measures, we've taken a step back. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, incidences of violence in the home have increased dramatically. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has posted a disclaimer on their website home page warning of their unusually high call volume.
Have we regressed? And if so, why?
Is it because we have an increasing wealth inequality? Maybe it's because many lost the respite of their jobs outside of the house. Could it be because gender-based rights are being besieged to exert control over others? Perhaps it's because politicians are not even held accountable by their own constituency for their sexual violence.
Or is it because bystanders don't see it as their problem but rather as their entertainment?
When you hear about the latest outlandish episode, it's time to say something other than "no kidding?" It's time we say NO MORE.