Arts & Culture / Mosaic / October 28, 2010

Shock value: We’re used to murder anyway

These days we have become fairly immune to violence in media. It’s become a common format to take a crappy script and funnel in as much violence as possible, also pouring body oil over everyone, as a means of covering up how awful a film is (cough, cough). That’s just what film companies do; they try and make as much money as possible and realize how easy it is to trick a large portion of an audience into believing the movie is worth seeing. Hell, they even bank on people (like you) who know the movie is terrible but see it anyway just to see a horrible movie (“Ironically.” Yeah, you know who you are). And BAM! Suddenly the guy who has his throat cut on-screen isn’t as shocking, it’s just one of those things we’ve seen a thousand times. (Wake up, get coffee, watch guy’s throat get cut, go to work)

NOW STOP! I’m not talking about seeing it in reality (I’m sure the vast majority of you never have or will see such a thing). I’m talking about our reactions to it in a movie (Yes, I say this again, it’s your damn fault for asking). What do I mean? Let me give you an example.

I happened across a certain film (zombie-bikini-slaughter-cheerleader-springbreak-fest X, a fine film) in which the entire premise was a fellow killing as many innocent people as possible. Rather than being an action-packed film with no purpose other than adrenaline, seat-wetting spasms (which really should be spelled with a Z, much like laser) it was a film about someone going on a killing spree and getting away with it. The entire point of the movie (void of ANY message) was that some kid (just like you, yes, you!) could go around shooting people and get away with it. I don’t know about you, but when I see something like that I stop and wonder what the hell the director was thinking, soon realizing they only cared about creating a wave that would gain them more publicity and the label of “controversial” (I remember when that term was in reference to the person’s message, when it actually was worth a damn).

It seems excusable now to make a film solely about violence, and while that’s all fine and dandy consider this; a movie all about sex is called what? Right, I knew you’d know that (I’ve seen your browser history). Basically what we’re looking at is adrenaline porn, a category where the entire point is to watch as much violence as possible and perhaps snuggle afterwards (THE perfect date movie).

I’m not some old-timer who’s preaching about how everything is going to shit, wait, no, yes I am (a few thousand years old and disappointed). Whatever happened to movies that used violence and sex instead of relied on them? They’ve been horribly murdered, go figure. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to fight my way through an army of face-eating space-mutants using only a spatula.

Dan Kahn

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