FilmLadd Explores the Danger of Film Violence Without Consequence

Much has been made here at RedState about the growing progressive rot permeating various film franchises, most noticeably comic book-based ones such as the MCU and Justice League. While the incessant preaching and corresponding drops in box office revenue are well worth covering, another omnipresent yet overlooked element warrants further examination. Filling this gap, Ladd Ehlinger Jr.’s (FilmLadd on Twitter) latest installment of his excellent video series dissecting both pop culture and political grifters compares Sam Peckinpah’s 1969 Western “The Wild Bunch,” one of the first films made taking full advantage of the Hays Code’s discontinuation, with Joss Wheldon’s 2012 “The Avengers.” The latter comes out decidedly second best on multiple fronts.




The 1960s was a period of violent upheaval in multiple societal aspects, including the as-yet-unnamed pop culture realm — film, popular music, and the like. One of this period’s signature elements was Hollywood’s abandonment of the Hays Code, which decreed what could and could not appear on screen for decades. The code’s enforcement bureau rigidly enforced what amount and forms of film violence and sexuality were permissible. While the entertainment industry chafed and clawed at these restrictions, it still went along with them.

Ehlinger Jr.’s video focuses on how violence is depicted in each film, comparing “The Avengers” outlandish cartoon stylization to “The Wild Bunch” and its utilization of slow motion and quick cuts not solely for cinematic effect but also to depict as accurately as possible violence’s horrific consequences, the suffering and death that come with the real thing. As he comments:

There’s no violence in movies, video games, and the rest; only depictions of violence. It then becomes a matter of depicting violence in a moral or immoral way.

Ehlinger Jr. explains that while “The Wild Bunch” has vast quantities of spilled blood, it does so not to shock or titillate but to emphasize violence’s graphic, messy nature. There are no bloodless bullet holes or immunity to gunfire based on gender or age. Women and children bleed and die just as agonizingly as men. Ehlinger Jr. compares this to the cartoonish ways the humans in “The Avengers” pull off stunts that would, in real life, mean certain death without getting so much as a glorified paper cut.


As the video continues, Ehlinger Jr. muses on modern society’s penchant for seemingly mindless violence:

Is it because they’re exposed to violence on TV, movies, and social media, or because they are exposed to millions of depictions of consequence-free violence? Maybe it’s the type of depiction of violence that matters in the end. “The Wild Bunch” is filled with consequences from beginning to end. Children torture scorpions by dropping them into a pile of red ants. Note how they’re laughing at its misery and death because they haven’t learned yet the consequences of what they’re doing. Then the Wild Bunch, dressed as army personnel, rob a bank and tear up the town. Women and children are killed, including presumably some of the kids torturing that scorpion … and in the end, we see how they (the Wild Bunch) are all destroyed in a hail of gunfire; hordes of ants versus scorpions. There are consequences to violence, and those consequences include pain and death; loss, and grief, and misery.

Humanity’s base nature demands ever more to satiate its thirst for evil; cartoon violence no replacement for the real thing. We see it in incessant crime minus consequence, be it unbridled shoplifting or illegal border crossing. We see it in the unveiled threats leveled against political opponents by Maxine Waters and Chuck Schumer. Humanity should tremble in reverent awe before the cross necessitated by its sin, but it does not. Humanity should peer with the tired eyes of faith into the empty tomb, but it doesn’t do that either. Instead, it craves bread and circuses; the bloodier, the better.


Peckinpah’s life was hardly a quiet one centered on Bible study and prayer. Yet ironically, his films are laced with a strong moral code straight from Scripture. What a person plants, they will always harvest. The Old Testament prophet Hosea said it best: They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind. As Ladd Ehlinger Jr. shows us, noting that which was done better in bygone days is not the sole prerogative of previous dusty generations railing against the wind. It is the raw truth. Ignore it at your peril.


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