Why is violence so entertaining?

BY Eden Ovadia and Tyler Kwon

Whether people like to admit it or not, we love to watch each other fight.

The Romans loved fighting so much that they built a feat of ancient architecture with a 50,000 person capacity to honor fighting. And today, fighting entertainment is a multi-billion dollar industry, with one of its foremost companies, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) reporting over $700 million in revenue in 2016, according to their website.

With this longstanding love affair in mind, it is no surprise that our infatuation with violent combat extends to our own lives. Off the TV screen and outside of great big stadiums, even high schoolers get to witness some of the most captivating fight scenes from the comfort of their very own schoolyards.

Students know that a fight has started when the sound of aggressive shouts ring off from the distance. Soon enough, kids are running over to the scene, and more and more join in to see what all the hub-ub is about.

Two students, prancing in circles and exchanging punches, attract the “oohs” and “ahhs” of many passersby. Now, a tight circle has formed around the attraction, with fewer people trying to stop the confrontation than those looking on in fascination, and some even cheering the opponents.

This phenomenon may seem awfully animalistic, especially when many of the same cheering students may have just gotten out of their English or Math classes.

As it turns out, the origin of this behavior might just lie in humans’ evolutionary history.

Similar to other species, humans have used violence as a means of survival, to find a mate, or to protect or gain territory or food throughout their time on earth. Charles Darwin’s famous theory of evolution illustrated humanity to become almost programmed with the desire for aggression and violence. There are also psychological and sociocultural influences, in addition to evolution, that all contribute to a person’s aggressive nature.

However, human societies have evolved in order to develop systems where violence is unnecessary and even looked down upon. Today’s society is unique in that there are certain types of violence and aggression that are negatively portrayed whereas there are some that are supported.

Naturally, support for violence is generally confined to the realms of media and entertainment. In a society where people are restricted to their socially acceptable lives and most often do not need to use physical force to obtain basic necessities, many may lack an outlet for the aggression they feel.

The act of watching violence is key in allowing people to express and relieve their emotions in appropriate ways: watching an MMA fight or an action scene in a movie gives people a rush of excitement and a good dose of adrenaline.

In a space like a high school, where students are accustomed to quiet and collected environments, the breakout of a fight out will certainly receive attention.

It is an exciting and unique way for students to live vicariously through the people who are fighting and to release some of their built up frustration without dealing with the societal consequences of violent behavior.

Is it wrong to love looking on at a fight is, especially when spectators could just as easily notify a staff member to break it up promptly?

“I just love watching the fights because you never expect to see that kind of violence at school. I know it is technically wrong to watch for enjoyment without saying anything, but it is like my brain just shuts off at that point and all I am focused on is the fighting. It’s crazy,” senior Michelle Villalobos said.

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Author: Tyler Kwon

Tyler Kwon is a 16 year old senior and Editor in Chief of the Plaid Press currently attending Granada Hills Charter High School.

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