I commend those of you who have managed to make it this far into Btooom, but I have to question why you started watching it in the first place. Am I seriously suppose to believe that a video game developer somehow accumulated the resources to kidnap dozens of people, put them on a desert island and force them to fight to the death? The premise of the show is so ridiculous that it’s impossible to take it seriously. Unfortunately, I’m going to try to do just that.
Let’s assume for a moment that what I said above actually makes sense. Would people really turn on each other so quickly? In that situation, would a 23 year old NEET actually be able to kill another person?
We have to remember that humans are animals. We can say whatever we want about human achievement, but at the end of the day we are just another mammal in the animal kingdom. As pack animals we naturally cooperate. Sure, there is still violence, but it accounts for a relatively low number of deaths in the world – just about one percent. Even then, this number is much lower in developed nation and significantly higher in war zones and undeveloped countries.
What about the social stigma behind murder? If you kill another person on purpose in the United States, you will either go to prison for the rest of your life, or you’ll be executed. If it was unintentional, you will still go to prison, and, upon release you’ll likely be ostracized by society. At this point it seems apparent that there are strong natural and societal limiters on murder and violence.
Here’s an interesting example I managed to dig up. During World War II, only fifteen percent of soldiers would fire their weapons at the enemy. It might seem hard to believe, but psychologists reached this result after interviewing thousands of troops at the end of the war. Even when faced with death, soldiers would rather die than kill another human being.
Military training has changed in response to this knowledge. Now, besides just teaching soldiers technical skills, trainers have to override their natural instinct. This leads to the dehumanization of the enemy, and the use of doublespeak terms such as hostile, casualty and eliminate. Even today, with a focused attempt to change soldiers, only fifty percent will shoot to kill.
Ok. I’ve gotten a bit off topic so let’s get back to Btooom! I’ll admit that violence would occur in such a stressful situation but it would be limited. In any case, I don’t think we would see people killing each other over cases of food. If anything, people would group together to find alternate ways off the island, much like Sakamoto has with the old man.
Am I right or wrong? Is it nature that discourages murder, or is it a much more flexible social construct?