The idea of good vs. evil is as old as time. It’s reflected in countless religions, myths, and art dating back thousands of years. I’ve seen several films, television shows, and played several video games that demonstrated that Good vs. Evil is too simplistic of a concept.
I had the pleasure of screening Denis Villeneuve’s “Sicario” a few days before its release, and it was tremendous. A beautiful film that reiterated the point that there is a fine line between good and evil. To say someone is inherently good or evil is to diminish what it is to be human. Humans are flawed, all of us with sporadic good and bad qualities.
Our society labels things as good and evil on a regular basis. I read news articles, comments, critiques where people simply identify things with one of these two terms. That’s fine for a quick tidbit – “He’s a bad person,” but it is simplistic and adds nothing to the conversation, seeing as how we are all morally complex.
This is something movies, television shows, and video games have taught me. With morally ambiguous characters currently riddled throughout pop culture. We reluctantly rooted for Tony Soprano and Walter White, why? Because they weren’t entirely evil, they had good in them, they were human. More recently Netflix’s “Narcos” has moments that ask us to connect with the real life drug lord, Pablo Escobar. That’s right, the man who blew up a plane, pieced together on an emotional and human level.
After the tragedy in Oregon yesterday it’s hard to keep a level head on. Many people will say “The shooter was evil.” What any mass shooter does is sick and depraved on every level, but we can’t progress as a society if we don’t start asking why so many people are this sick and depraved. We have politicians and news broadcasters using this simplicity, declaring people “evil” left and right to the point where America is convinced that every one in the Muslim religion is actually “evil.”
Films like “Sicario” have taught me that, in real world situations, justice isn’t just a good-his-whole-life hero stopping a bad-his-whole-life villain. It is fear and ignorance that drives us to believe that the world can be this black and white.
While video games, movies, and other art forms get blamed for glorifying acts of terror, I actually feel like they have the ability to say more about our society and our human evolution than any politician or news reporter. It’s to the point where watching your local News too often is significantly less educational than watching a good film or television show.