They are quite popular in the media nowadays, but why do people watch them?
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This has many dimensions, but I can agree that one is clearly questionable in value -- the investment in vicarious violence. It might be a good idea to look at Sisela Bok's book "Mayhem" to see how the main role of violence in our culture now seems to be entertainment, and how this can be looked at as a moral problem.
From a pacifist/feminist point of view, vicarious violence is about role rehearsal. We still live in a society where the male identity is tied up with violence. But violence itself is largely proscribed. So vicarious violence is what we are left with. Aside from video games, sports and violent drama, that includes crime and warfare news.
By knowing the details of these situations, we can insert ourselves most realistically into one of the roles involved in controlling them: the knave's, the knight's, the king's or the sage's, to put it short.
We imagine new and different variations of crimes to which we may fall prey. We imagine being in the position to stop crime and get to judge how ready we are to play that role. We imagine being in the position to do something about larger issues by learning from and generalizing about them. And we imagine being in the position of judging human nature and the position of violence within it. These are abstract versions of the jobs men are assigned by the militarizing force that places the male domain at boundaries for defense.
The remaining implicit militarism in the male role draws us to rehearse these roles, even if we know that we are not going to be called upon to play them. We get to have and express opinions that seem to matter more than our ordinary opinions in life, because they are tied up with the urgency of battle, albeit a battle that is already over.
Since the process of our current attempts at feminism do not retract this role from men, but instead extend predominantly male roles to everyone, this is an exciting vicarious experience for many women as well as men, and captures the attention of the culture at large. Unfortunately, that makes vigilantes into celebrities, in a way that may encourage abrupt and meaningless violence by the narcissistic.