I had a really interesting conversation with Wanda Goodman—a fellow founder of SwanWaters—about violent crime. We discussed the idea that the amount of violence in pop culture and the media (in TV shows, movies, and video games, etc) desensitizes us to violence on a larger scale.
I said to her, “I can see this to be true. But I think it goes deeper than just physical violence. So much of what we see, hear, and read normalizes toxic relationships and toxic behaviors.
For example, I was watching Friends on Netflix. And it occurred to me that the friendships between the main characters are so messed up. I mean, they steal each other’s money and it’s depicted as a joke. But I wouldn’t be that amused if my friends, in real life, would just lift cash out of my house, or out of my pocket when I’m not watching. That’s not a very friendly thing to do.
That does not even come close to the abusive nature of the relationship described in a book like 50 Shades of Grey, which is celebrated as romantic and exciting. Because the normalization of toxic relationships goes beyond just that. These toxic dynamics are also celebrated. This being the case, it makes sense that we are becoming confused as to what healthy relationships ought to look like, and how we ought to manage them.
If the shows we watched focused on the well-being of the main characters, we would be bored because apparently happy, healthy people do not constitute good entertainment. Isn’t that kind of messed up?