Totally Deep Discussions: On violence in entertainment media, Part II: Types

Generally, violence in entertainment media falls into two categories: implicit violence and explicit violence.

Implicit violence happens in various ways, but the idea is that the violence is happening off-camera. You see a dead body with a gunshot wound or evidence of blunt-force trauma. You see bruises on someone, but not how they got there. Someone grabs a knife or cranks a chainsaw and the person they’re about to use it on starts freaking out, then you either just see the blood spatter or there’s some kind of transition into the next scene, like a cut to black.

Obviously dead, obviously stabbed, but all you see is the body.

Explicit violence is the violence you see. You see someone get kneed in the face; you see someone getting shot in the head; you see someone’s arm getting cut off.

However, these are not types of violence, but merely the ways in which violence is portrayed in media. I don’t know if I can necessarily categorize measures of violence into types, but I’ll try my best.

One type of violence is combat violence. This can include gang violence, war violence, contact sports, fight scenes, and the like. The primary characteristic is that the violence is indicative of a sort of mutual struggle going on between two or more parties.

Clearly a knee to the face. Mixed martial arts, or MMA, a contact sport.  

Another type of violence, which can overlap with combat violence in a sense, is homicidal violence. It can overlap with combat violence because in some cases, like war violence, someone gets killed, but the main point of homicidal violence is that the violence is one-sided or is just being exacted with an overwhelming force from one party rather than the other. Homicidal violence is going to include murders, torture and execution scenes, things of that nature.

There are two other types of violence that I’m thinking of that I would consider special cases: sexual violence and gore. Personally, I’m categorizing sexual violence separately because the nature of sexual violence has a different tone than non-sexual types of violence. Gore, characteristically bloody violence, would fit best between the homicidal and combat violence categories, not necessarily in its own category, neither would it fit in one or the other completely.

These are fairly broad categories for violence, but I didn’t want to get too specific either. Later, we’ll get into the levels of intensity of violence when I discuss reasons why violence might exist in entertainment media in the first place. Stay tuned.


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