Revenge across pop culture: Which format is the most violent? Has the most consequences?

May 9, 2014

“Revenge” (Colleen Hayes/ABC)

Revenge: A powerful motivator and a huge driving force in literature, music, film, art and television for centuries. (Hey there, “Hamlet.”) The time-honored theme is still going strong today – yet these days, depending on the facet of pop culture, vengeance can play out very differently. Just as the appropriately-titled ABC’s “Revenge” wraps up its third season on Sunday night, here’s a closer look at three modern examples, ranking various categories on a scale of 1 to 10.

Revenge on TV: The long game
Given that television shows stretch out over seasons, you can’t have a quest for vengeance wrapping up too quickly. It needs to be a long, slow burn.

Example: “Revenge” (Gist: Woman moves to the Hamptons to ruin the lives of those who framed her father as a terrorist.)


Other examples:
“Veronica Mars”; “The Mentalist”; “Scandal”

Revenge in music: Violence
Since you’re only hearing lyrics for three minutes and have to visualize a scene in your own mind, is it any wonder that revenge songs tend to be very violent? (This especially seems to be true in the country music.)

Example: “Looking Back Now” by Maggie Rose (Gist: Woman finds husband is cheating. She shoots him, goes to jail, shoots the warden who’s hitting on her. Gets the death penalty.)


Other examples:
“Goodbye Earl,” Dixie Chicks; “Before He Cheats,” Carrie Underwood; “Gunpowder & Lead,” Miranda Lambert

Revenge in movies: Public humiliation/downfall

With only about 90 minutes to wrap up a story, it’s go big or go home – this often leads to violence, but it also frequently results in wild and completely unrealistic scenes of public humiliation or downfall.

Example: “The Other Woman” (Gist: Three women realize they’re all dating the same man; they team up to make his life miserable, slipping him estrogen tablets and laxatives at inopportune times.)


Other examples:
“Mean Girls”; “John Carter Must Die”

Emily Yahr covers pop culture and entertainment for the Post. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyYahr.
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Emily Yahr · May 9, 2014