Satisfaction; The Everyman’s Personal Justice

By Contributor, Citizen Milton C.

In popular culture, television shows and cinemas the world over have constantly played party to the public’s fascination, and indeed desire for personal justice. From lauded shows such as The Sopranos to Dexter, they present a side to the satisfaction and vindication which can be had through the taking of the law into one’s own hands. But even with big screen hits like The Taken, Kill Bill or Man on Fire, nearly all of these scenakill_bill_ver3rios have the same thing in common. The individuals acting upon their need for satisfaction have unique skills or backgrounds which promote an almost superhuman prowess, yet staunch believability to what they accomplish. Mob hit-man, psychopathic detective, former international operative, trained assassin and professional mercenary, they all have something which allows the viewer to see the story unfold with a sense of realism. These individuals could by their very natures conceivably conduct their affairs as we see them unfold, and live to tell the tale.

But what would a regular person do in such instances if given the chance, or pushed into it? The blue collar, everyday individual that simply goes through life living it the best that they can. An Australian film released in 2008, The Horseman, shows us a side of ourselves, that which those of us not gifted (or cursed) with a background in violent culture and behavior might in dire circumstances find ourselves evoking. The main character, Christian (played by Peter Marshall) is a simple pest exterminator whose teenage daughter has died of a drug overdose. But when a video tape is sent to him, revealing the violent and sexually depraved way his child’s life ends, he decides to seek out those responsible. What follows is an incredibly brutal and altogether bleak portrayal of what, when pushed to it, an everyday man could conceivably do for the satisfaction of justice he so desperately requires.

There are no CGI special effects, nor martial arts battles of epic proportions to entertain, just raw, visceral rage played out on a very bloody scale. Violent struggles, scenes of torture depicting graphic punishments and depraved yet gratifying examples of justice leave nothing to the imagination. And while the character building is minimal, this lack of personal definition only makes it all the more easy to step into Christian’s shoes and identify with his agony. For anyone interested in the revenge genre, and something more akin to a realistic portrayal, this movie could not come more highly recommended. But the succinct overview of this film serves a higher purpose other than one of cinematic analysis. And that is of presenting the occurrence of engeance within us all for the common reaction that it is.

A trailer which fairly portrays the content can be found here;

Revenge is a natural feeling, an innate desire to be vindicated, to feel that there is a sense of justice (of whatever stripe or kind) in a world which in all honesty has none. Justice is what we make it, what the society and civilization we are a part of dictates is right. And if revenge has Dexter-Season-8-Promo-Posterno part in justice, why do we have punishments at all for the breaking of a law? To show that certain actions deemed reprehensible have consequences? To attempt to instill a sense of  accountability and responsibility to those who have already shown that they have none? Of course not. Because without satisfaction (which is the term I personally use, instead of revenge) and a show of power through judgment provided by law, we would indeed have more vigilante justice. In nearly every case seen in cinema or on the television, these instances of fictional justice call to us and appeal to us because they resonate with our inner demons so well, that side of us which truly knows what justice is and where it can be found. These anti-hero archetypes do what the law enforcement officials could never do, and that is to permanently and in a most satisfying fashion assert justice (more of less) in like degree with the crimes committed. No life in prison, no fine with community service, no never ending stint in a psyche ward at the expense of tax payers. This Lex Talionis, The Law of Retaliation so embraced in the hearts and minds of those mistreated, yet shunned by society at large is a facet of our primal natures which will never fade away. Our wrath is as integral to our species as lust and passion, despair and joy. But don’t take my word for it. Look around you and more importantly inside yourself.

To make my own stance perfectly clear, I do not on principal condone criminal activity (even those I feel are justified), though I have my doubts as to whether this resolve would hold in the event someone dearly close to me was horrendously victimized. Could I resist kidnapping, torturing and executing someone that assaulted and irrevocably harmed or killed my wife or children? Maybe. But for now, my opinion is simply, “I’m not saying it’s acceptable to enact your own brand of personal justice upon those who have wronged you… but honestly, I understand.”


If you enjoy this brand of literary expression by Citizen Milton C., more articles and essays with an edgy, third side perspective can be found at A Spy In the House of God.

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