Blurry Boundaries

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure just where the boundary between ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ violence lies for me. I like my horror creepy and/or with a good dose of humor mixed in. Today’s trend towards ultra-violent torture porn just makes me feel ill.

Yesterday, I posted this to my Google+ account:

Just watched the red band trailer for the new Evil Dead remake/reboot. That is so not for me. I like the original with and because of its crazy low-budget camp, and love that they just ran with that for the rest of the series and went completely goofy. This new, ultra-realistic, ultra-violent, ultra-bloody take, even if it’s more in line with what they originally wanted to do, doesn’t appeal to me in the least.

I like my horror creepy and/or with a good dose of humor mixed in. Today’s trend towards ultra-violent torture porn just makes me feel ill.

Then, earlier today, I tweeted this:

Watched The Cabin in the Woods today. Crazy, and really good. Glad I hadn’t read any spoilers beforehand. http://t.co/rIngl2A3 #IMDb

Then just a few minutes ago, Prairie and I finished watching the fourth season of Dexter, and while the ending cliffhanger was upsetting, it was upsetting in the way a good TV cliffhanger should be, and we’ll definitely continue watching the series.

There seems to be some possible irony in all of that.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure just where the boundary between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” violence lies for me. There were definite moments in The Cabin in the Woods that were more violent than I was really comfortable with, and Dexter occasionally pushes right up to the edge, but in both cases, I think there are three things that make the difference and keep me watching:

  1. The stories are good. Even in the moments where the violence pushes further than I might like it to, I’m already invested enough in the characters and the plot that I’m willing to deal with the occasional cringe and “was that really necessary?” thought in order to continue with the story.

  2. They don’t dwell on the violence. The acts, while necessary to the story, aren’t the point of the story, and as such, even when they’re shown on screen, it’s generally not a huge, long, drawn-out scene. It happens, there’s that moment of shock, and then they move on.

  3. The violence is a part, but isn’t the point. I’ve seen other films (the first Saw film, for instance, which was two hours of my life whose only useful purpose was to convince me that I have no need to ever waste time on any of the rest of the series) that are truly deserving of the “torture porn” designation. The violence is the point of the film, and any bare minimum of plot is there only to move from one violent act to the next. Even films that aren’t part of the modern “torture porn” style of horror can fall victim to this kind of approach: For instance, part of why I didn’t think much of Tim Burton’s take on Sweeny Todd (which I’ve enjoyed on stage) was his insistence on showing every slit throat in loving closeup. Once would have been quite forgivable in order to get the point across, but I found the repeated shots of gaping bloody throats to be quite unnecessary.

Of course, there’s a lot of grey area in all of this, and the boundary between what works for me and what doesn’t is definitely very, very blurry. Sometimes it just boils down to the old cliché about the difference between erotic art and pornography: I know it when I see it.

bin Laden’s Real Victory

This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory — he has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed.

From “USA! USA!” is the wrong response – War Room – Salon.com:

For decades, we have held in contempt those who actively celebrate death. When we’ve seen video footage of foreigners cheering terrorist attacks against America, we have ignored their insistence that they are celebrating merely because we have occupied their nations and killed their people. Instead, we have been rightly disgusted — not only because they are lauding the death of our innocents, but because, more fundamentally, they are celebrating death itself. That latter part had been anathema to a nation built on the presumption that life is an “unalienable right.”

But in the years since 9/11, we have begun vaguely mimicking those we say we despise, sometimes celebrating bloodshed against those we see as Bad Guys just as vigorously as our enemies celebrate bloodshed against innocent Americans they (wrongly) deem as Bad Guys. Indeed, an America that once carefully refrained from flaunting gruesome pictures of our victims for fear of engaging in ugly death euphoria now ogles pictures of Uday and Qusay’s corpses, rejoices over images of Saddam Hussein’s hanging and throws a party at news that bin Laden was shot in the head.

This is bin Laden’s lamentable victory — he has changed America’s psyche from one that saw violence as a regrettable-if-sometimes-necessary act into one that finds orgasmic euphoria in news of bloodshed. In other words, he’s helped drag us down into his sick nihilism by making us like too many other bellicose societies in history — the ones that aggressively cheer on killing, as long as it is the Bad Guy that is being killed.

(via Sika)

Mixed Messages

So…would this be an irony FAIL or irony WIN? 16 arrested in fight at nonviolence concert.

So…would this be an irony FAIL or irony WIN?

16 arrested in fight at nonviolence concert: Montgomery County police say 16 people were arrested after a fight broke out during a concert held to promote nonviolence and to remember a Silver Spring teen killed last year. […] Police say fighting broke out near the stage toward the end of the concert and at least one person resisted arrest. Police say 16 adults and juveniles were arrested for offenses such as assault and disorderly conduct.

Pushing Daisies: Candy-Coated Family Friendly?

Pushing Daisies is one of our favorite shows on TV right now — wonderfully quirky, and often feels to me like what might have happened if _Edward Scissorhands_-era Tim Burton had gone into television. The Disney Weblog has been doing weekly wrapups, and something about this week’s review got under my skin a little bit.

[Pushing Daisies][1] is one of my favorite shows on TV right now — wonderfully quirky, and often feels to me like what might have happened if _Edward Scissorhands_-era Tim Burton had gone into television. [The Disney Weblog][2] has been doing weekly wrapups, and something about [this week’s review][3] got under my skin a little bit.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pushing_Daisies “Wikipedia: Pushing Daisies”
[2]: http://thedisneyblog.com/ “The Disney Blog”
[3]: http://thedisneyblog.com/2008/10/23/frescorts-pushing-daisies/ “The Disney Blog: Frescorts (Pushing Daisies 2.4)”

(Since what follows hinges upon the final shot of the show, I’ll pop it under the cut to avoid spoilers…)

Continue reading “Pushing Daisies: Candy-Coated Family Friendly?”