Irina Pino

From the film Ex-Drummer

HAVANA TIMES — There comes a time when things reach a limit, when a person can’t become more inhuman. Faced with this, many people simply ask for more violence. The streets are a clear illustration of this ill.

I asked a friend who works in Cuban television – where I was employed for several years – to copy me some music videos and movies. I am always on the lookout for new things.

The other day, when I had a look at the folder in my computer, I saw a film titled Ex-Drummer. I started to watch it, out of curiosity, and every scene was more disgusting than the last. It actually made me feel ill. The thing that got to me most was the feeling of spiritual emptiness that overwhelmed my senses.

The characters in the film had no moral values, not even a tiny sense of camaraderie. Lack of respect and love towards parents and children was everywhere. There were explicit sex scenes and even multiple murders near the end. There was nothing positive in the film. More than sinister, it was sick.

I looked for information on the film, and I found out the movie is based on a novel by Herman Brusselmans, a Belgian novelist, poet and columnist whose recurrent motifs are sex, alcohol, frustration and violence – an underworld characterized by lovelessness and permeated by dissatisfaction, people who do nothing other than destroy themselves.

The fact people enjoy these stories strikes me as morbid. Here, in Cuba, people have become used to sharing these types of materials. I remember that after the explosion at the gas station in Santiago de Cuba: a video of that accident spread like wildfire through USB memories and mobile phones, until it had reached every corner of the island.

At the school where I take editing classes, I saw the video of a woman who walked naked down the streets of Camaguey. A crowd of people follows her, most of them making fun of her or saying nasty things to her. No one offered to cover her with something, not even out of compassion. After a while, the police arrived, roughed her up and took her away.

Real-life murders have become another form of entertainment. That is to say, we’re no longer talking about the classic murder or horror movies that appeal to certain “tastes”, we’re talking about true incidents, things that have a more direct link to daily life.

In capitalist societies, many people download real-life murders, suicides and rapes from the Internet. So-called “snuff pornography” portray such incidents (though it is said it hasn’t been proven that the events depicted are real). A type of material that has had an impact are videos filmed by the murderers themselves, by people who document their horrible and sick deeds. This is more of the same, for it has created a demand from a sector of the public.

Gory videogames and reality shows are another way of degrading human beings, a kind of sanctioned voyeurism. I’ve read that a high percentage of people who have participated in these television shows later seek psychological help. Others have even killed themselves.

I really don’t know what’s going on with human beings, what noxious feelings move people these days. Even Cuban television is showing extremely violent films, especially on Saturday nights.

At my son’s junior high school, I am bombarded with violence as soon as I step through the front door: young people yelling, students who don’t move out of the way, that don’t excuse themselves when they shove past you (and do so so quickly it’s a miracle they don’t knock you over).

A teenager at the school hides a knife in the garden of a discothèque that his friends often attend. When he leaves and returns home he picks it back up and puts it in his pocket. “He says it’s only for protection”. But isn’t it possible that his “protection” ends up being used against him?

Violent incidents are also always taking place between baseball players and fans at Havana’s stadium. A week ago Friday, my son witnessed one of them. An accident – someone running into another person – became a brawl between four people. People exude anger and end up venting it on others.

Murders at schools, acts of sabotage in public places, wars, torture, physical and psychological violence, pornography, child exploitation, sadomasochism, kidnapping, prostitution, drugs – the list is far too long for such a short article.

It is thus well worth asking ourselves what we can do to put an end to this massive destruction and self-destruction. How are we going to wash away all of this blood and do away with the growing brutality around the world?


Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

One thought on “Violence, a ubiquitous ill

  • Irina this is very sad and troubling. And yes I agree that many people have been desensitized to violence through movies, MMA, and video games. Not to mention years of continuous wars. Though I have always felt safe in Cuba. Even walking by myself in Habana late at night. Though maybe it is because where I used to live I would never have done this for it was not safe to do so. And maybe I have been lucky. Hopefully Carson will read this latest article of yours and see that his utopian dream of Cuba is not quite what he thought it to be. It is very sad that humanity has come to this.

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