I hate it.
The Geek Husband What Rules is playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and in several levels you are attacked by dogs and have to kill them. Every time one of them yelps, I flinch. I noted this on my personal Facebook, and a friend replied that he found it interesting how people reacted to the deaths of animals versus people. In my response I flippantly noted that I like animals more than I like most people, and that while the “people” in the videogame scenario were there because of choices they had made (be a soldier, be a terrorist, or whatever), dogs don’t have those choices. They are an animal we have bred to want to please us, and they will die to do it. And that makes me kind of sick. I grew up with dogs, and thinking of anyone purposely training an animal to be vicious kind of makes me want to subject them to the training and treatment they subject that animal to.
Someone else brought up the question of what about child soldiers and adults who are forced to join armies like many of the forces in conflicts in South America or Africa, or the Middle East, or…
Which was a little beyond the scope of the discussion, that being the world of Call of Duty. But I’ll tell you, I don’t like people who mistreat other people at all, either. Fortunately, or not, I guess you could go either way, no one’s marketing a game I’m aware of where you have to blow away child soldiers. Whether or not you’re blowing away hapless guys conscripted by the bad guys you’re fighting is up for debate. Honestly, the scene in one of the earlier Call of Duty games where you have to kill the surrendered German soldiers in order to progress bothers the hell out of both the GHWR and myself. Yeah, I know it’s historically accurate and all that, but it still bothers me. I don’t even like hurting people on accident.
Don’t ever think I won’t hurt someone if I’m defending myself, though. I’ll hurt the hell out of you if you attack me or mine, I’ll just feel real bad about it later.
I don’t really care for gratuitous violence towards children or animals in any media. At least not on screen. I particularly don’t care for it as shorthand for “Look how EVIL my character is!” It’s cheap and just bad writing. And quit doing that. I know, I know, I have my little in-joke about villains being so villainous they’re practically freebasing kittens. That’s why. Having your villain crush a puppy or smoke a kitten or jerk off with a gerbil in order to demonstrate that they are EVIL means you’re just too damn lazy to actually depict real evil. Hitler wouldn’t have crushed a puppy, he loved dogs. But he surely was one of the most evil sumbitches on the planet.
It also misses that most of the real evil in the world doesn’t think of itself as evil. That’s the other thing to remember when writing your villains. With the exception of a small segment of serial killers, most bad guys don’t see themselves as bad guys.
And honestly, I don’t really like pointless violence of the human on human variety anyway. As I have previously and repeatedly stated, I hate torture porn. If I want to see people being incredibly shitty to other people I’ll turn on the news, thanks. Give me a reason the bad guy is hurting people, destroying shit, tell me he’s an inhuman monster (demon, dark fae, robot, alien) of some sort that doesn’t really see us as people or sentient. Give me a better reason than “because.”* There’s enough fucking “because” in the real world, I don’t need it in my escapism, thanks.
*As I’ve said before, serial killers who are doing it to prove their smarter than the police don’t exist because there’s way better things to do to prove that, that don’t carry the death penalty or life imprisonment. Serial killers have reasons. Sick, twisted reasons, but reasons.