Neeson. Revenge. Being more virtuous.

movie,gun,pointed gun

This has been clanking around upstairs for weeks. “Taken” is a story of an ex-CIA agent whose daughter is kidnapped by an Albanian gang engaged in human trafficking. They drug, prostitute and auction off young women. I dismiss the probabilities of the predicable storyline. I cheer him on through the mayhem and destruction right to the Disney finish. His daughter is saved!

I watched the movie in the attic. A dark room dripping with evil. I finished watching the movie and headed outside, I needed to get to the Sun.

I have a daughter.
It’s just a movie.
This evil actually exists.
It’s just entertainment.
Getting the bad guys felt so good.

Then why do you feel so dark now?
And why do you watch these things?

I came across this op-ed essay by Arthur C. Brooks titled The Trick to Being More Virtuous and asked myself:

  1. Demand outstrips supply for this “poison.” Am I further poisoning the well with my spend and my attention?
  2. What does my next “click” say about my desires?
  3. Will the next movie or book or article that I read, “elevate” me?
  4. Like that third donut, can I pass it by and “seek personal moral improvement?”

Here’s a few excerpts from Brooks’ essay:

Psychologists study a phenomenon called “moral elevation,” an emotional state that leads us to act virtuously when exposed to the virtue of others. In experiments, participants who are brought face to face with others’ gratitude or giving behavior are more likely to display those virtues themselves.

In one study…psychologists assigned subjects to three groups: A third watched an episode of the comedy program “Fawlty Towers”; another third watched a nature documentary; the final group watched an uplifting clip of the Oprah Winfrey show in which artists expressed gratitude to their mentors. The subjects who watched Oprah reported feeling more optimism about humanity and more desire to help others than the other groups. And, importantly, these morally elevated subjects were more likely to help the researchers by completing optional tasks…

In truth, demand is far more important than supply: We get more of what we signal we want through our dollars, clicks and votes. If our politics are too often poisonous, it is because, as a society, we are demanding too much poison. If we want to grow in virtue, and experience a healthier, more productive political environment, each of us must demand more virtue.

…We should ask ourselves: What will my next click say about my desires? Will the next article about politics I read elevate me? Or will it be a pathogen that provides momentary satisfaction from an eloquent insult to my enemies, but ultimately fuels personal bitterness and increases the climate of acrimony in America? Can I pass it by instead and seek personal moral improvement?

…Liberals should be liberals, and conservatives should be conservatives. But all should be expected to live up to a higher standard of civility than that displayed by TV loudmouths. The next two years are a challenge to our political leaders, yes — but also to us, to demand a climate of moral elevation as opposed to destruction of the other side.

Don’t miss the full article by Arthur C. Brooks titled The Trick to Being More Virtuous.

Photo: Fanpop – Images of Liam Neeson in Taken


  1. The good guy wins. Someone is rescued. Can I pass by that donut? Makes you think.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Think what could happen if each of us took responsibility for our own actions, including dollars spent, clicks made and votes cast. Alas, it seems much easier to blame “them”.

    On another note, I was so disturbed by the movie Taken (and still am, when I allow myself to think about it and about all those (real) young women who don’t have Liam Neeson as their father). I’ve never watched any of the sequels and actually stay far away from violent movies.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have never watched it and never will — I know I am just too much of a softie and once that gnarly stuff is in my head it will fester and grow – can’t. do. it. Interesting post though — and I know what you mean about needing to get some sunlight afterwards … shudder!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Perhaps the movie gets its point across, but I can’t watch many modern movies with their keen eye for gratuitous violence. They make me feel ashamed, not only of the violence they portray, but of the violence presented as so-called entertainment. If I can’t eat popcorn while watching, it’s not a movie I want to see.

    There are other more effective ways to influence the shedding of our cultural innocence that might encourage a civic mindedness.

    The film industries’ justification to bring awareness to troubling issues has become an excuse to present bolder and more graphic images of the worse among us, often presented as if it’s eye-witness news. I don’t want to be that desensitized to evil. We all know it when we see it. Awareness is not the problem.

    Sometimes I feel a weariness for which I can neither shed, nor have the power to do anything about.

    On a brighter note, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing The Theory of Everything yesterday. Very gripping story of Stephen Hawking’s life, living with genius and a horrible disease.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m making the turn away from “gratuitous violence” but will say it continues to tempt. The good vs. evil story lines can pull me in. As to the brighter side, I need to check out The Theory of Everything. Thanks for the recommendation Debra.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. All really good points and thoughts David. I decided awhile back with life and time so precious, to ask myself, how will I spend my time each day? It’s not like I don’t watch a bad movie every now and then, it’s just I consider now if this energy I’m am about to use is going to inspire me or deplete me. It’s always a conscious choice and just make sure I’m aware of it. Im also glad when I don’t eat any donuts. Let alone 3 ha!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I feel that way when I watch violent movies. I even wrote a blog about it. How could a scardy cat, mambsy pamsby like me watch violent shows like Sons of Anarchy and Walking Dead? How can I watch people get tortured, dismembered, and who-knows-what-else, then go and kiss my grandbaby? I sometimes feel like a psycho myself. It’s not even that it’s a “release” from the stress of the day. If someone even hinted they would do that to me/my family, I’d buckle like a melting snowflake. So I empathize with all your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I too watched Sons of Anarchy and Walking Dead, both filled with “gratuitous violence” (as Debra would say in her comments above. I have since been turning away from similar programs…and I agree Claudia, it isn’t a release from the stress of the day.


  7. The good guys won. The bad guys lost. It was violent but violence also liberated concentration camps. Yes, I like The Third Man, Citizen Kane, and My Dinner with Andre but I found nothing wrong with Taken. Far more disturbing are those moral agnostic films which have difficulty, to borrow a line from Churchill, distinguishing between the arsonist and the fire brigade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, well stated Michael. I agree. What I wrestle with is what I choose to fill my mind (and my stomach which seems to be a bigger challenge these days). As Karen states above, does it uplift me or deplete me or are they wasted calories? These are the questions for me…

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  8. Reblogged this on Mistrz i Małgorzata.

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  9. Such good conversation here.
    I don’t have a TV, so don’t watch news. I select the TV shows I stream online. I’m all for the uplifting energy.
    However, I loved “Taken.” I’m a daughter who didn’t have much of a father. For me, it was a Daddy Fix.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. David, thank you for posting the essay. I read this just after lying awake far too early and musing about what I repost on FB, and whether it is time to remove myself from it altogether. Do I share only uplifting things on my blog? We both know the answer to that! Such good food for thought and indeed grist to the mill on a Sunday morning here in Edmonton 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This kind of movie terrifies me. Even though I know it takes certain liberties, it’s my worst nightmare to have something bad happen to one of my daughters.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post, and great comments/conversations. Your father reflections are palpable to me! I was just talking with the Eleven Year Old the other day about how things once seen, cannot really be unseen. I haven’t seen this movie and probably won’t – I crumble when in front of that kind of violence. Yet, I appreciated your comment-er above who spoke of violence being what brought and end to the concentration camps – the complexity is great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, so many points of view, and so well stated. And Eleven Year Olds today see so much more than we did back in the Paleolithic Age. Too much…too fast….


      • Oh way too much. ..images of every kind are in front of them before they can even think to swipe. I was impressed that he got the concept. ..and the consequences. So far….so good. We have a ways to go. Great dialogue here!

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