Skip ahead to modern times, and I invite you to look at the last 20 years of entertainment in its various forms. The rise of MMA as a legitimate sport. The primacy of the superhero film genre. Hilarious fail videos on the Internet. Grand Theft Everything. f****n' Shark Week. I defy anyone to suggest, with a straight face, that we are beyond or above or even adjacent to violence as a species. We're staring it in the face, one hand balled into a fist, the other digging into our popcorn.
Even our snacks are created by violent food mini-explosions.
If conflict is essential to good storytelling, then violence, devoid of context, is entertainment, I would argue. How often do people stop to watch a fight? Kids in a schoolyard congregate like ants on a Twizzler when classmates throw down. Internet videos of fights are hugely popular. We don't need to know what instigated the fight, but we'll watch it play out if we can. It doesn't even need to be humans. How many nature shows are based on the circle of life, stoically narrating friendly meerkats being eaten by ravenous meerdogs? It's engaging to watch two things struggle, violently, against one another. There's a reason Floyd Mayweather can afford to be so obnoxious; people like watching him kick other people's asses.