Thursday, November 22, 2007

[film] how far can it go

Untouchables - the way action adventures used to be

It started in the mid to late 70s when we sneaked into a double header film I forget the name of – it might not even have been Peckinpah but it was the new “realistic violence” in slow motion and I know now for sure we hadn't seen those things before on the big screen.

I didn't like it, used as I was to the cowboy shoot 'em up you're dead High Noon unrealistic stuff. Sex used to be a cut to ocean waves crashing on the shore. This new stuff was grim and more than that – seemingly unnecessary – it didn't move the plot along any and seemed to be what most of the audience were there for.

My two mates couldn't get enough of it and every time a head flew off or a woman's entrails gushed out, wild cheers went up and that started me thinking about the effects of this on people over a period of time. My best mate wasn't the “pull the wings off insects Norman Tebbit type character in spectacles” - he seemed otherwise normal and yet he was right into this.

Well, all of that's now tame and the porn on the net leaves nothing to the imagination either. I know I'm a Christian but I want to avoid the moralistic trap and not preach that it's shockingly against G-d's word but I do wonder about it's long term facilitation of an indifferent, dare I say sociopathic society the west has most certainly now become.

Above all, it's become more slow-mo, more graphic, more detailed and old classics are being re-shot to include this stuff to appeal more to younger, thrill seeking, fix seeking audiences. All I can say is I wouldn't want to entrust my fate or that of my daughter to someone who'd been brought up on a steady diet of anti-human gore and unromantic sex.

Even in simple terms – getting into a dispute with someone on the road – just look at what's swilling round his brain as he moves in for combat. In previous days the guy would take a swing, intending to lay me out cold. Now there's fiendish finesse behind those narrowed eyes – little embellishments he's envisaging in his rage.

And the rage too – don't you think there's more of it about, far more intolerance of any obstacle to our path? I read an article some time back from a journo who saw a well dressed man with a newspaper tucked under one arm and briefcase in the other hand who got into that little dance on the footpath when one pedestrian steps one way and you do too then both step the other way – a comedy of errors.

This time the man snarled: “Oh, for f—k's sake get out of my f—king way” to the well dressed lady trying to pass him and the journo noted that the guy had just come off the train, was not racing for it. How far the steady diet of violence and porn and incidents like this can be tied in I'm not sure but I'm pretty sure that both aren't healthy.

They can't be healthy with that sort of jaundiced pig swill floating around the brain.

That's why, having been silent on this matter for years, reading Fabian Tassano's piece on screen violence, it all came back. Fabian asks if we should draw the line at this:
Tenia brutally rapes Marcus's girlfriend Alex and puts her into a coma. ... This scene is filmed using a single, unbroken take, lasting nine minutes. After Tenia rapes Alex, he repeatedly punches and kicks at her head and stomach.
...or here?
He then cuts off some of her fingers, severs her spinal cord (making what Mick calls "a head on a stick") and tortures her to reveal the location of Kristy.
Which makes me ask why the hell would you want to watch this stuff in the first place? Fabian notes the reaction of directors and critics alike:
We have of course the usual rationalisations of pseudo-iconoclasm: 'challenge', 'radical', 'confronting', 'risk-taking', and so forth.
... or:
“Scenes that make people turn away are part of the fun of going to movies,” said the British Board of Film Classification in defence of allowing Eastern Promises to screen without cuts.
Now this is just sick. Who on earth is on those boards now to say those things? I think you know the answer to that. They're now being stacked with exactly the same "people" as education, law and medicine that this blog has been endlessly rabbiting on about.

Doesn't anyone realize what's happening to people with this slow inuring of the soul to violence and violent sex with refinements? At an increasingly early age? Doesn't anyone realize that this is little different to the Janjaweed stoking up in Darfur and then being given complete licence to ride in, rape, mutlilate and burn women, hack men to death, gouge babies' eyes out and a litany of other sick stuff?

Doesn't anyone see that gang rapes, date rape, the short fuses which the vast majority now possess is no different to Anakin Skywalker invited to do his worst and he does - giving way to an endless loop of revenge and hatred whilst the Emperor smiles on, nodding his approval?

We all know this loop - rage, despicable act, remorse, their revenge on you, your revenge back on them - and the Emperoro sits back and chuckles at a fine piece of handiwork.

And when it's all done and the remorse sets in or even when you're now so far gone that no remorse sets in - you've gone down one more notch, one more level towards that desolate hell in which you're headed? Chris Rea - Road to Hell.

Don't you realize that when you need a fix of more and more graphic sex, more and more refined brutality to satisfy you onscreen, this is a form of possession - slow possession of your soul? It is not just the vicissitudes of modern life although they are very much part of the dystopic scene.

In a much milder form [or maybe at an earlier stage of the malaise] I walk to the carpark and during that twenty minutes, do I look around at the beauty of nature?

Do I hell. I start to think of someone who crossed me the other day and it starts to annoy me because I'm seeing that person today and I'm thinking of raising the issue and actually, why not now? I'm going to phone up now and have it out. And then I stop and look at myself - walking to a carpark on a sunny morning and fuming with anger over something.

Stop! Stop! That's sick. What's needed at this point is a giant dose of the antidote [mine is help from the Spirit] and it calms things down, everything is calmer and the car is reached in a nice frame of mind and with a private resolution that we might discuss the matter later, we might not. But either way, it's going to be done calmly and in a gentlemanly manner.

I have to force myself not to get hyped up, not to succumb to the pressures, to take it easier. Sometimes the heat-seeking missile needs to be kept in storage. I'm already possessed by one Spirit. I'll be damned if I'm going to let a malevolent one take its place.

First Rule - don't give way to the Dark Side [in Star Wars terms].

I'm not offering advice except that if I was into a steady diet of sex and violence I'd step back at ths point, take a look at myself and then decide how best to follow the First Rule. Because that other course leads only one way .



Myself, I can't tolerate violent films.

I agree with you that too much violence and too much porn and too much thirst for power turns some men into monsters.

But what to do when you come across one?

Lord Jerk-Higham said...

Walk away, no matter what your heart cries out to you. Evil has a beautiful face and the person might not be evil at all - just possessed.

Rob said...

This is very interesting. I think the problem is that the story in films is often lost under a barrage of violence. Scarface for example is about the futility of power and how it corrupts the mind. But how many people remember that. They all remember the “say hello to my little friend” bit.

What is more worrying than porn and violence is the emphasis on money, power and sex in the media generally. Success is only ever measured in wealth and power – Drangon’s Den, The Apprentice, etc.

Also all women must match a perfect form or they are worthless – just look at any magazine targeted at young women. The cult of celebrity is wrapped up in this as well. The young now believe in fame for fames sake. The West has certainly lost its way. Not sure what can be done about it though.

mutleythedog said...

It will surprise you maybe that I largely agree with this, I only differ in definitions of porn. I don't think of the human body as pornographic. Full stop.

I avoid those misogynistic, foul repellant movies like the ghastly Saw series, like the plague. I would never volunteer to watch them...

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Great post and I completely agree with you, James.

jmb said...

I loathe violence and blood and gore in films which makes it difficult to find one to watch these days.

But I do wonder if in actual fact it causes more violence in real life. I think most people are able to distinguish the difference between watching violence and committing it. I don't believe it's that easy to kill or maim someone. I guess you would have to really look at crime statistics to prove it one way or another.

Now watching pornography leading to violent sex and gang rape, I'm not convinced of that either because the latter are considered crimes of violence foremost, committed in a sexual way. Again some crimanologist has probably written a masters or PhD thesis about it.

I had a funny conversation in the music/video store the other day with the young man in charge. We were discussing which type of the two new High Definition DVDs would ultimately win out. He said that with Beta/VHS the porn industry went with VHS and because it is so big it killed Beta. He said that the porn industry has gone with HD so he expected Sony would lose out again. I did not realize the industry was so large it could affect such a decision so was quite surprised by his remark, assuming it's factual.

Personally, I would be happy to go back to the non violent and cutting away to the ocean waves type of film.

mutleythedog said...

I wonder if the routine depiction of cruelty for entertainment just desensitizes people...

Lord James-River said...

Each of these comments were interesting in themselves - I do feel it both desensitizes and does something even more - opens the heart for not so good things to swim around in there.