There are artists in every generation that have a need to express themselves in a way that shocks their audience. I do not understand what drives their efforts. On the other hand, the desire to shake an audience to the point that they get the point is familiar. What else can one do when the subject is important and nobody seems to be listening?
Sometimes, the ends seem to justify the means. The subject is so important that whatever I do to convince my audience is fair game. The goal is so critical that nobody seems to care how I get there. My voice has not been heard, so what do I need to do in order to get someone, anyone to listen to me? Cries for help, life altering alerts, and fundamental beliefs are all used as reasons for shocking actions.
Without commenting on any driver in particular, I would observe the following.
Yesterday’s shocking action is today’s norm. When a writer made the following observation, “worse, she dishonors herself—an ugly sight, like a woman with her head shaved,” (1 Corinthians 11.7) I doubt that he had met any number of famous women today.
One often remembers being shocked more than what shocked them. Shocking pictures and images fade in our minds faster than the emotions of being shocked. Shocking actions are often labeled and put into pins of childish, pranks, or emotional outbursts. Said another way, messages are often lost in moments of being shocked.
Shocking triggers our defenses, closing our senses and mind to everything related to the event itself. Our willingness to listen ends. Any openness in our minds or hearts closes up. Physically things tighten up. We are ready to go into battle.
I am not questions the need to be heard. I am not defending the callousness shown to others. I am wondering aloud if the ends can ever justify the means. From a results basis I would say, “no.” From a fairness and process basis, “doubtful.” Life centers on patient engagement, the kind Divinity showers on all.