Saint or Sinner? Who among us would be able to answer that question honestly in today’s society? Whilst those answering would be willing to answer with honestly, accepted societal nuances however would indicate that it is almost impossible to answer that question honestly.
We have reached a point in society wherein the very ideology and acts that we once considered unacceptable are now an every day occurrence. To take piracy as an example, twenty years ago, the notion of pirating a VHS was considered unacceptable, yet today it is seen as common practice to download a pirated version of computer software, TV show, book, film or even a game. The usual rebuttal being that the large or small corporations that finance the aforementioned items can afford it anyway, and that there was no intention from their part to ever buy the item, so therefore it is not like the company is losing money.
Another example to be used is pornography, again twenty to thirty years ago, the perceived audience of pornography was of the single, lonely, dodgy bloke by the corner shop buying either a magazine or video in a brown bag, yet today, it is so easily attained online, that there has been a surge in addictions to pornography that has hitherto been unknown before. Yet despite this, pornography, and I state, the legal kind, has become acceptable, almost the expected thing for men to be constantly viewing.
These are two examples of things that were not socially acceptable twenty years ago yet are now perfectly common and acceptable today. We are awash with information in this day and age, easily highlighting just what piracy funds, and the ordeals that some of the actresses have to endure to make those movies. There are plenty of documentaries about which highlight the kind of injuries that these actresses suffer as a result of their vocation. Yet despite the plethora of information available, both have entered into social acceptability.
Which brings me to the main topic today, has our concept of right and wrong shifted? Are we operating under a different paradigm than we did twenty years ago? Or is it merely that we are now more aware of moral grey areas, of right and wrong, than we once were, and therefore find it easier to highlight actions. notions and concepts which are hitherto unacceptable?
There is certainly more information easily available than there has ever been before, but then again, has this information diluted our concepts of right and wrong, and therein allowed things that were once anathema to even discuss, become socially acceptable?
The irony of societal standards lies in perception, many of us would consider the act of shoplifting completely unacceptable, yet we barely bat an eyelid when it comes to downloading a pirated program from pirate bay. Both would be considering stealing, both involve the attainment of items without previously being purchased, yet one act is considered deplorable and the other not, why is this the case?
Pornography, not so long ago, was considered shameful, the topic of nudity within films alone was a topic for debate, yet a few years ago, 9 songs, the first mainstream movie with depiction of legitimate sex acts and sexual intercourse for most of the movie, was given a cinematic release, and shown in most cinemas. Whilst I am in no way saying that nudity and sexuality should be censored from movies, surely it should be a case of where it adds to the tale being told by the movie, and not the main purpose of the movie?
Violence is another example of things that has increased in depiction, the films like Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street were considered incredibly violent for their times, yet both are nothing more than comical in comparison to the barbarity of films like Hostel. We decry the violence in the gaming industry, yet find violent music in the form of rap (Tupac’s Hit ’em up for example) and in the movie industry completely acceptable, movies now are far more violent than they ever were during my formative years.
So has the paradigm shifted? Have we become desensitised over the years, or are these things merely a more realistic reflection of today’s society? There is no easy answer to these questions, because the case for each opinion could be argued ad infinitum, but it does bear thinking about as to why social acceptability has been granted to things that were once frowned upon.
That being said, things such as homosexuality was decried a few decades ago, yet rightly now is considered acceptable. People have the freedom to be in a loving relationship regardless of their gender, and enter wedlock with them, as it very well should be. There is no one on earth that can convince me that love can ever be wrong or be a sin, and it is heart warming to be able to see humanity having the freedom to express it without preconceived notions or judgement.
Saint or sinner? The question is not as simple to answer as once thought, perhaps the paradigm has indeed shifted, both for better and for worse. It might be the time for us to be more analytical in our thinking, and to allow the things that have no discernible reason to be restricted or unacceptable become acceptable, and things that we would normally condemn (piracy once again an example of this) not be allowed to be converted into acceptable forms merely because it is convenient for us. So the question to ask yourselves once again is, Saint or Sinner, and see if your answer is different to what it was previously.