Jim's Blog

America’s Culture of Violence : A Well Thought Out Scream by James Riordan

Everyone knows that television and movies are more violent than ever. I was flipping through the TV channels last night around 11 p.m. and there were only two stations that did not have violent images on them, but perhaps even worse, there were seven of the dozen channels I looked at that were showing a scene where a gun was being AmerPsychopointed at someone. As someone who occasionally has a go at writing a screenplay, I understand some of this from a Hollywood perspective. It is just that not easy to shock people anymore. Movie audiences have seen everything – every possible form of violence directed in every possible situation. The only way to shake a viewer up or summon up the slightest fear of your villain is to have him do something virtually unspeakable. Horror movies have to keep topping each other (The Saw, Jeepers Creepers, Split, etc) with horror and mystery/crime movies have to be far darker than they used to be to even approach the film noir stage (Pulp Fiction, Gone Baby Gone, Mulholland Drive). NBK

 

 

Even our sports are more violent. People watch NASCAR for the crashes and hockey for the fights. MMA and UFC have out bloodied Boxing. Though the NFL is investigating concussions, they happen nearly every game and the most violent hits are the highlights watched over and over. Bull riding is as dangerous as sports can get and don’t forget about those Lacrosse brawls and huge stadium fights in Soccer.

soccer

The most violence exposed to the youngest minds are clearly video games. For most play station and x-box players, the more blood, the better. Game like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are extremely violent. There are also games like Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, a role-playing video game released in April 2005. The game recreates the 1999 Columbine High School shootings near Littleton, Colorado. Players assume the roles of gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and act out the massacre, with flashbacks relating parts of Harris and Klebold’s past experiences. The game begins on the day of the shootings and follows Harris and Klebold after their suicides to fictional adventures SupColMastin perdition. The game also features security camera footage of Harris and Klebold in the Columbine school cafeteria during the massacre. Another extremely violent game is Postal. Postal 2 is a black comedy first-person shooter video game by Running With Scissors, and it is the sequel to the 1997 game Postal.  Both are intentionally highly controversial due to high levels of violence and stereotyping. Unlike its predecessor, Postal 2 is played completely in first-person based on the Unreal Engine 2. Scenes of the game can be seen in the music video of The Black Eyed Peas single “Where Is the Love?” In 2004, New Zealand banned Postal 2 due to “gross, abhorrent content” and Australia banned the game a year later due to “excessive abhorrent content”. On May 1, 2007, Malaysia banned the game outright due to “very high impact violence & offensive depictions of cruelty”. The game was also banned in Germany and temporarily banned for sale in Sweden, however it was later legally made available worldwide through GOG.com in 2009 and Desura in 2012, and was successfully greenlit on Steam later that year.

JFK_Reloaded_screenshotOriginally scheduled for North American and European release in July, the game was suspended by Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive when it was refused classification in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and given an Adults Only (AO) rating in the United States. As Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony Computer Entertainment do not allow AO titles on their systems, this effectively (if not technically) would have banned the game in the US as well. In response to these ratings problems, Rockstar censored the game, blurring the screen during the game’s executions and removing the scoring system, where players were awarded for particularly brutal killings. This edited version was rated M in the US by the ESRB and was released, but the BBFC still refused to classify the edited version for UK release. Rockstar appealed their decision, and ultimately, the Video Appeals Committee voted that the game could be released with an 18 certificate.

TaxiHotline Miami is set in 1989 Miami and the plot consists of two protagonists, Jacket and Biker, who have been receiving phone calls instructing them to commit massacres against the local Russian Mafia. The game blends top down perspective with stealth, extreme violence and surreal storytelling, along with a soundtrack and visuals influenced by 1980s culture. The game itself was influenced in part by Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 neo-noir crime film Drive, as well as the 2006 documentary Cocaine Cowboys. Other extremely violent videogames inclue Manhunt, Soldier if Fortune and Death Race 2000.

Despite the great amount of violence in television, movies, sports and videogames, perhaps our culture’s Texasgreat exposure to violence comes through the news itself. While the actual images shown are usually not graphic the intensity high drama of the programs are very impressionable.  When there is a mass shooting the continual coverage makes a powerful impact.  The old newspaper expression, If it bleeds, it leads! Is certainly proven daily not only by our newspaper headline but by the focus of the television news as well.  The days of objective reporting dies with William R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.  Just watch the daily teasers for the nightly news. There’s always a huge threat about to happen. The news media loved it when a story can be serialized such as a desperate father grabbing his kids from their mother in Maine and racing with them in his car all the way to California.  Every night people are tuning in for the next installment.  A hostage situation is even better.  The news loves extreme violence most of all because the rating soar.  And the rating sour for the same reason there is so much violence in movies, sports and video games.  America loves violence.  We sit behind out television, movie and computer screens just like the crowds that filled the Roman Coliseum waiting on baited breath for the next spectacle.

Perhaps the saddest part is that there are so many lost and lonely souls out there who can’t wait to provide it for them.

The Author

James Riordan

James Riordan

Rare is it that any author will have one of his books described as the definitive work on a particular subject, but such a distinction has been bestowed by critics on no less than four books written by James Riordan. The New York Times Bestseller Break on Through, Riordan’s biography of Doors lead singer Jim Morrison, has not only been called “the most objective, thorough and professional Morrison biography” by the Times Book Review but also named as one of the Ten All Time Best Rock Biographies by Amazon.com. Riordan’s The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco) was called “One of the best how-to books ever written” by the Los Angeles Daily News and “The ultimate career book on the music industry” by Recording, Engineer & Producer. Critics described Riordan’s The Bishop of Rwanda as “one of the most important books you’ll ever read.” and The Coming of the Walrus, Riordan’s novel about the 60s as “the definitive book on the era” and “a hilarious tale of a harrowing search for the greatest truth of all”. With the release of A Well Thought Out Scream and Madman in the Gate, Riordan pushed the boundaries again with poetry/song lyric books that contain hundreds of stunning, beautiful and poignant images from artists and photographers from all over the world. In the summer of 2013 a new edition of The Coming of the Walrus was released to rave reviews followed by The Kill Switch. The author of thirty-three books, James Riordan’s career began in the music industry where as a songwriter, manager, producer and concert promoter he worked with several well known artists. In 1976 he began writing a newspaper column, Rock-Pop, which he later syndicated. Riordan soon became one of America’s premier rock journalists with articles reaching millions of readers including those of Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, Circus, Musician, and newspapers like The Chicago Daily News and The Kansas City Star. His reputation for relating on a one-to-one level soon led to interviews with George Harri-son, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Zappa, The Doobie Brothers, Kenny Rogers, Barbra Mandrell, Crosby, Stills & Nash and countless others. His first book, The Platinum Rainbow (written with Bob Monaco in 1980) became the largest selling book ever written about the music business. The guide to “succeeding in the music business without selling your soul” was praised by Variety ,The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Las Vegas Sun, The Minneapolis Tribune, Billboard, Record World and many more. The Platinum Rainbow became an industry-wide phenomenon and interviews with James Riordan were aired on over 1200 radio stations and numerous television talk shows. Next Riordan collaborated with Pulitzer Prize winner Jason Miller on a mini-series for network television (The Irish) and a movie of the week for CBS (Bless Me Father). In June 1991, William Morrow & Co. published Break On Through to outstanding sales and reviews. Riordan worked as a consultant on Oliver Stone’s film of Morrison’s life, The Doors, which led to his writing Stone’s biography. Published by Hyperion /Disney in December 1995, Entertainment Weekly called STONE “an unflinching biography... enough spectacle to fill a month of daytime-TV talk shows.” The New York Post said reading the book was like “the sensory overload of watching all of Oliver Stone’s movies back to back.” Riordan was interviewed by Inside Edition, People Magazine, The Tom Snyder Show, and many others. From 1997-2000, Riordan created and co-starred in a local television program, Kankakee Valley Prime Time, which won six Crystal Communicators, three Tellys, and earned Riordan a Chicago/ Midwest Emmy Nomination for Writing the program. In the summer of 1999, James Riordan wrote, directed and starred in Maddance, an hour long dramatic project which won Crystal Communicators for Drama, Writing, Acting and Directing. On April 9, 2000, James’ 16 year old son, Jeremiah, was killed as a passenger in an accident that involved three drunk drivers. Shortly after this, James founded Make it Stick which works to warn teens of the dangers of substance abuse and publishes a magazine distributed to high school students. In 2001, he founded Jeremiah’s – A Place to be Yourself to give teens a place to hang out away from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Force to close by its incredible growth rate, Jeremiah’s was recognized as one of the fastest growing and most successful teen centers in the United States. In 2004, Toastmasters International named Riordan Communicator of the Year for Central Illinois, the YMCA gave him their Service to Youth Award and the United Way named him the Outstanding Volunteer of Kankakee County. Returning to writing, Riordan went to Africa to write The Bishop of Rwanda, (with an intro by Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren). In November of 2006, Harper Collins released a new edition of Break On Through followed by The Coming of the Walrus (Image Workshop) in December and The Bishop of Rwanda (Thomas Nelson, Inc.) to rave reviews (“Powerful …plumbs the depths of God’s forgiveness and finds no bottom – Publisher’s Weekly). In 2011, he won the Pledge For Life Harold Award for his work with area youth. In the summer of 2012, Lee and Shane Stanley (Gridiron Gang) optioned Maddance as a feature film followed by Apothecary Films optioning The Kill Switch in 2013 and Omni Films optioning Final Service to film in May. Riordan joined the staff of the Mancow Syndicated Television and Radio show in January of 2014 and is now seen and heard across America on a weekly basis. His biography is included in Who’s Who in Entertainment , Who’s Who in Poetry and Contemporary Authors of America. James Riordan – Works Books The Kill Switch, novel with Andrew Dahlmaine, Stonegate Ink, 2013 The Coming of the Walrus, Trade Paperback Editn, Image Workshop 2012 Springboard To Heaven ( Jojo Sayson Adventure), Image Workshop, 2012 The Elijah Collection, novel collection with Bill Myers, Zondervan, 2011 The Well Thought Out Scream (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 Madman in the Gate (Poetry/Art), Image Workshop Press, 2009 The Deadly Loyalty Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Ancient Forces Collection, Forbidden Doors, Zondervan, 2009 The Enemy Strikes with Bill Myers (Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 Deception with Bill Myers (Book 2 Elijah Project series. Zondervan, 2009 The Bishop of Rwanda (Finding Forgiveness) Thomas Nelson, March 2007 Paperback Edition May, 2012 The Coming of the Walrus (What Really Happened in the '60s) IW, 2006 Break on Through (The Life & Death of Jim Morrison), Morrow, 1991. (New York Times Bestseller, Published in 5 languages, Hardcover, 5 Paperback Editions, Harper Trade Paperback November, 2006) Stone (The Controversies, Excesses & Exploits of a Radical Filmmaker), Disney/Hyperion,1995. (Published in 3 languages, Hardcover, Paperback Edition). Making It in the New Music Business, Writers Digest Books, 1987, (Second Edition, Revised and Updated 1991, Two Hardcover Editions) The Platinum Rainbow (How to Succeed in the Music Business Without Selling Your Soul) 250,000 copies with Bob Monaco, Swordsman Press, 1980, Twenty-Three Editions, Revised 1988) 25 Year Anniversary Edition, 2005 Capture the Wind (Microphones) w.Tom Lubin, Literary Mouse Press,1989 Private Biography of Russ Kalvin, founder of Kalvin Corp., 1990 Private Biography of Steve Stefano, founder of Joico Hair Products, 1993. Mystery of the Invisible Knight (Book 2 in the BloodHounds Series) with Bill Myers, Bethany House,1997. Matters of the Heart (The Life & Times of Edgar Cullman), Culbro, 1997. The Curse (Book 7 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1997. The Undead (Book 8 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1996. The Scream (Book 9 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1998 The Ancients (Book 10 Forbidden Doors) with Bill Myers, Tyndale, 1999. The Cards (Book 11 Forbidden Doors Series) with Bill Myers, Tyndale,2000 Films Final Service, co-written with Gary Moore and based on his book, Omni Productions, to be filmed in May, 2014. Maddance, Writer/Director/Lead Actor, Search Engine Films, Simmcomm, 1999. (Winner of 4 Crystal Communicators including Best Drama, Screenplay, Director, Male Actor – Austin, TX.1999) Performance (The Life of Ingrid Bergman), Screenplay, Lancit Productions 1998. Returned to Author when film division closed)Rewritten2009 Shadowdancers, Story & Screenplay, Story with Bill Myers, 1997 Dr. Babylon, Story 1996. Air Guitar, Story & Screenplay, 1994 The Platinum Rainbow, Story & Screenplay, 1993 Television/Video Kankakee Valley Prime Time, Writer, Director, Producer, 1997-2000. (Nominated for Midwest/Chicago Emmy for Writing, 1998, 3 Telly Awards, 4 Crystal Communicators 1998-2000). Angels Among Us (The Amtrak City of New Orleans Train Disaster, Co- Producer, (Telly Award, 2000). River Valley Sports Authority, Producer, 1999-2003. I Hate The World (Hypnoises Music Video), Writer/Director/Producer, Crystal Communicator for Best Music Video Concept, 1998). The United Way (Video) Crystal Communicator for Best Video for a Charitable Organization, 1998.

If it isn't money and it isn't fame and it isn't sex... then what... God?

— James Riordan, 2000

No Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *