I never thought I'd end up being cast as a squeamish moralist. After all, as a kid in Manhattan, I did not turn away from Richard Widmark in "Kiss of death." And all my life I have watched all manner of gore and gunshot entertainment. I have Netflix though I am considering giving it up because YouTube has plentiful film fare. But on Netflix, there is the recent release of "Godless" in my recommendations. And this is as good a time as any to have my say.

This is not a review. Nor is it one of those articles that gives you the names of everyone in the offering.

It is a chance to suggest that the time of shoot-em-up movies should be over. Indeed we will not come close to surviving as humankind if we keep plying ourselves with a feast of violence.

Violence needs to become taboo

I believe violence does not need to be an inevitable feature of the options available to human beings. I further believe that dwelling on violence, wallowing in it, celebrating it, gorging on it, is not heaven-intensive. By heaven-intensive I mean what leads to good.

In the last few weeks, we have had real violence that out-gores the violence of films like "Godless." We have a president who spouts the childish language of violent bravado as his notion of diplomacy.

Even though there is a woman's angle to this offering, I would like to hope that equality in every form is something that tends toward good.


I believe the temptation to violence should be viewed with exactitude. Instances of violence should not be banished, especially when they reflect realities we must reckon with. Karen Silkwood was intentionally killed courtesy of a large chemical company.

I do not believe such reality should be censored out of films.

What I am pressing for is the replacement of the binary vision that is a staple of most of our culture. The alternative is triadic thinking.


Triadic understanding accepts the fact that trouble is real as Gram Parsons wrote in the great song "Hickory Wind."

Everything is real, including violence and death.

But goodness should be the only reason we have for wanting to live and act and succeed. Therefore, we should key entertainment to criteria that aim at achieving goodness, not in the moralistic manner of old religious prohibitions but rather to universal values.

Movies and TV would aim at tolerance, helpfulness, and democracy. Beauty would be linked to truth. Freedom, love, and justice would be a single progression. And entertainment would call idolatry for what it is, false worship. Triadic understanding beats binary thinking. And it gives thumbs down to anything that remotely celebrates violence.