Tuesday, August 16, 2011
John, I can’t believe you posted my fiancee’s eharmony video! That’s how we met!
The funny thing about John’s retort to Chris about PETA is that Chris is a voracious, lifelong meat eater.
Factory farming is evil. You don't need to be a vegetarian to think that.
Brandon, amazing Summer People songs man! I can’t wait to hear em live so I can sing em at the top of my lungs. You guys have really hit your stride as a band, and as a fan and friend this is incredibly exciting. Keep it coming.
I’m glad you wrote back so much on that topic. I was hoping it would elicit some decent discussion.
I agree with you on a lot of what you wrote. I definitely don’t think that the horror genre should be limited in anyway. It should be as nasty and unsettling as it wants to be. You’re right that as a genre it is supposed to make us feel uncomfortable and unsafe, and bring us into contact with the darkest side of our world and our imaginations. I like the horror genre a lot. I think I have my limits when it comes a certain level of violent depiction on film, but I don’t think that films that are disgusting in a violent way are necessarily bad or should be banned. I’m sure AUDITION is highly effective and well done. I don’t want to see it because I think it brings me into a world that I can’t easily shake or get out of. With films like that, it is as if you are presented with a world or universe that is inherently evil, which scares me much more than a purely indifferent universe. Afterward, I feel disturbed and unsafe just at the idea of existing and it makes me too depressed. I don’t want to see A SERBIAN FILM or THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE because I think they would make me feel really dirty and awful inside, and life is too short of that shit. I’m not saying these films shouldn’t exist, but I just reserve my right to not watch them. Much like Lisa does with all scary films. I have my limits too (yeah, call me a pussy if you’d like you big bully).
I also think that shock art can be effective. I like Odd Future and think Tyler is funny even if he's nasty.
I would absolutely agree that ANTICHRIST is of the same ilk as THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE and HOSTEL. It’s a nasty horror film that is trying to provoke and push boundaries of what is acceptable on film. I don’t think I have ever said or have claimed that it isn’t. However, I agree with you that it is done more competently than something like HOSTEL and is a much more interesting film. Like you said, it depends on the film. If a film features intense gore or elaborate torture, I’m not going to immediately dismiss it based on that, but I will dismiss it if I think it is poorly written, uninspired, shallow, etc. I think HOSTEL is bad thriller with torture as gimmick. I think that ANTICHRIST is a good horror film with torture feeding into the narrative.
When Orson Welles was asked if a film that is pornographic could be a masterpiece, he said no. He said you can have a masterpiece of pornography but you can never have a masterpiece of a film that is pornographic. His reasons were that if you are making pornography, you trying to arouse people. That’s your objective. To him, if you are doing this you are forgoing the key components of storytelling that make a film a masterpiece. You aren’t trying to make a great film, you’re trying to get people to jerk off. I’m not saying I totally agree with Welles here, but I think he makes an interesting point, and I’ll apply it to torture in film.
I think if you have torture in your film, you are trying to disgust, shock, and frighten your audience. It’s important for horror films to elicit these responses in us, but I also think it’s important to have something else going on. Maybe some intriguing themes, some character development, or anything that makes film worth spending time with.
I’m not saying that horror films need to strive to be masterpieces of storytelling, but I just like something more to grip on to besides torture because without it, the torture is just a gimmick and can be just as superfluous as hardcore sex in a film or all those unnecessary fight scenes in THE MATRIX RELOADED.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t mind the idea of including torture or drawn out nasty and violent sequences in films as long as there is something else going on and it is all done well and effectively. I feel like you have the impression that I dislike all gore or violence in film in general. I definitely do not, in fact I love it. It’s just at some point I get grossed out and have to look away because I want to be able to eat later. I still think gore and violence are awesome, and also love both when they are done humorously or inventively. I was cracking up throughout PLANET TERROR and have laughed at some pretty violent and gross scenes in my day.
However, I’m also of the opinion that you don’t even need torture or excessive gore to make your shit disgusting and terrifying. There’s no torture on screen in SEVEN but it is all implied. The film never gets bogged down with these superfluous scenes of John Doe forcefully feeding a man until bursts. We are just left to imagine these scenes on our own. In this way, the film gets to focus on its central narrative and is still more horrifying than most films that include these graphic scenes.
Graphic and extended violent scenes can be completely effective and not weigh a film down or they can do just the opposite. I’m all for these graphic scenes, I just hope they are not pointless. That’s my stance.
One thing I think that is interesting is that we are disgusted by torture when it is done to people we think are innocent. It disgusts and frightens us because we see ourselves as the victims. However, in revenge cinema, when we see violence or torture done to people we know are not innocent, we see ourselves as the aggressors and the torture/violence becomes triumphant (at least initially). It’s not a film, but DEXTER is like that. We never see ourselves on Dexter’s table. We always see ourselves standing next to him like a surgeon’s assistant.
Anyway, I don’t know what I’m saying here, other than that we definitely qualify violence, be it in film or in reality.
It’s really tough to say whether people are inherently violent or not, but we certainly have been violent for centuries. One of my favorite things about McCarthy’s BLOOD MERDIAN is that it opens with the reported finding of a 300,000 year old human skull that had been scalped.
“Movies and television have probably allowed our imaginations to grow. But while movies/tv can plant ideas in our head, there needs to be something else there to make us act on those ideas.” Very true. It reminds me of the last scene in Hitch’s ROPE. There does have to be something more there then just the ideas themselves. I can play Grand Theft Auto and shoot a bunch of virtual people or watch a movie with a bunch of people pretending to be shot, but if you put a real gun in my hand I wouldn’t even be able to lift it.