1st April 2016

Is our voracious appetite for disturbing content eroding the power of shock tactics?

Extracted from the original post on LinkedIn by Steve Price, Chief Creative Officer.

I went to a film premiere last week. Sounds very glam I know but there was no red carpet. There was prosecco but that was where the glamour ended. Not that it was a poor event, far from it. It was the subject matter that was the shocking element.

The premiere was for a series of 3 films produced by a Birmingham-based video production company called Tinker Taylor. Lovely people they are too.

The films were for the Police Federation for Northern Ireland. Specifically to highlight the fact that police officers working in Northern Ireland are just like me and you. Mothers, fathers, grandchildren, and so on, who are constantly putting themselves in harm’s way for the public good.

Watch the films and see what you think.

The We Are Fathers film, as a father myself, had an obvious impact. All are powerful pieces of film and everyone involved should be congratulated.


You knew that was coming didn’t you?

It did, however, get me thinking about how perhaps we might be getting desensitised to such disturbing content. I got in from the premiere and something morbid was on – my wife loves crime dramas – probably Happy Valley as I remember. Could be wrong, though. The similarities to what I saw at The Electric Cinema earlier in the evening was palpable (praise indeed).

It seems that our popular TV channels and networks are falling over themselves to schedule more and more harrowing crime dramas.

In our house, there’s always a gruesome murder scene being pored over by some fictional gumshoe or other. Broadchurch, Luther, Silent Witness, Happy Valley, Fortitude, the list goes on and the content is often quite difficult to stomach. Maybe I’m a pussy. I’m sure you’ll tell me if I am.

The appetite is there, clearly, otherwise these shows wouldn’t continue to be made but there seems to be a quite unsavoury competitive element developing. To see which show can out-grisle the rest – both graphically and psychologically.

It just made me think. If we’re constantly being subjected to increasingly shocking and harrowing material under the guise of ‘entertainment’, is the power of such content to provoke thought being eroded?

The #WeAreYou films are thought-provoking. No doubt. I'm sure they will go a long way to championing the work police officers do, and the sacrifices they make, in Northern Ireland and much further afield. A great body of work.

I just hope projects like #WeAreYou retain their ability to use shock tactics for positive gain, and this isn’t sacrificed to morbid curiosity and entertainment industry oneupmanship.

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