The River

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Killer culture

Quite a deal for $11 -- a veritable smorgasbord of decapitations, impalings, attempted rapes, car chases, explosions, good and bad acting and well-endowed women in very short shorts.

-- Lou Lumenick, Some Grind of Wonderful New York Post

This is a quote from one of the reviews of "Grindhouse" posted at Rotten Tomatoes, a site that gathers movie reviews from newspapers and websites from all over the country.

The movie is the latest from Quentin Tarantino, the movie director who has made millions feeding sadistic fantasies to the American public. His latest movie, which I have not seen and will not see, prompted the above reviewer to let his readers know that for $11 they could relish realistic scenes of horrific violence, and that, indeed, that is the reason to go see it, and the reason it was made in the first place.

Of the many reviews Rotten Tomatoes has posted on this movie, 81 percent have given it a thumbs up. Eighty-one percent. Judging from the subject of the film (an homage to cheap, violent films from the 70s), Tarantino has kept his ironic detatchment, but otherwise has dropped all pretension as to having a story to tell. Let's face it, fans, he says, we're sadistic and we're proud of it. It means we're bad, macho, cool.

Just like the advertising you consume everyday, the TV you watch, the corporate-sponsored sports, you have the smarts to understand you are being lied to, manipulated, hyped. You are hip to it. It doesn't affect you and doesn't really mean anything. Well, except on the meta level, of course, the way it is all massaged, pitched, spun, and, most importantly, the numbers, i.e. who is making a killing.

But the violence that fills our theaters and TV screens, do you think, maybe, there is any connection to what happened to Kathy Sierra? To what happened at Virginia Tech? To the non-reaction of the public to the sadism of the Bush Administration, if you don't count calculations of which defense and security stocks to buy?

Watching movies such as "Grindhouse," and the ever-more grotesque representatives of the horror genre such as "Saw" or the action genre such as "300," desensitizes us from our own humanity. These flicks achieve their mesmerizing power by reducing the human experience to a savage binary: kill or be killed.

In such reduced circumstances, we must know, we become desparate to know: Who are the victors? Who survived? Who can we idolize?

Quentin Tarantino?

Yeah, he's killer.

of course there's a connection, not that the MSM or the NRA will ever admit it. Personally those who promote this kind of violence be it Tarantino ,the NRA our the gun manufactures should start being held legally responsible for those deaths
Europeans have asked me more than once, "why is it you can see 50 people get killed in American moives but you can't see an actor's genitals? What's wrong with you people?"
Bingo ...

The really weird part of it is that all this just keeps getting more, faster and faster.

We won't need to wait until the year 2505 to get to Idiocracy and "Ow My Balls" .. it should be in place sometime between 2012 and 2015.
Hey Doug,

Don't forget those reprehensible video games.


we're just modern*, as modern as you can get.

*savage in a way no one who has ever been on this planet has ever dreamed of being


And weirder and weirder.
Thanks, Bruce for capping off a really crappy week for me by pointing to that link. Crappy week is related .. in that I am gettimng more and more alienated from the masses walking around trying desperatley to pretend things are not fucked up, and so we just mneed a bit more positive thinking .. even here in canada.

Hadn't thought of VT that way (tho' those pointing out that the identified perp would have to be VERY effective gives pause, for sure), and don't really want to think of how absurdly horrific that premise being real would be (tho' no worse certainly than murdering hundreds of thousands of others).

Blecch, fuck, etc.
Dunno. I would hope that the goal of our unwieldy civilized society is to be able to express ANY idea, regardless of how grotesque, in order that such an idea be openly discussed, acknowledged, and people know what the deal is. To say we need to get rid of violent entertainment is somewhat analogous to saying the government shouldn't tell people the kinds of things that would hurt them or alarm them (like, that the US tortures suspects, perhaps without the suspect even being aware of a charge, perhaps prematurely before a charge has been determined).

My mom was ranting the other day that its a huge fking crime that Al-Jazeera might make it onto American cable providers' channel lineups. I was worried about some kind of anti-Islam bias thing going on with her, but her primary reason for resisting the Al-Jazeera channel is because it shows so much disgustingly violent footage. I'd rather know I can choose to watch it, instead of knowing that somehting exists that somebody else can watch that we can't.

Part of me hopes that this American fascination with violence is because we've turned into a rather complacent, fat, lazy culture, but there lives on some vestigial dream of fomenting a huge revolution against this current state 'we ought be so thankful for.' The problem of sex and violence is not such a big deal in Europe and in other countries because sex and violence are an everyday simple reality. These cultures don't have to display their perverted fantasies about violence and sex because they live with it.

Sorry RE: the length of this pontificatory reaction, but I'm fascinated by this current round of debates sparked up by the VT catastrophe.

- Perc
No problem, Perc. I was wondering if anyone would call me on what seems like a call for censorship, so I'm glad you brought it up. I don't for the record, want to ban violent movies or video games. But to me, they are like really stupid, dangerous hard drugs. (no drug in mind here, but go with it) Yeah, you can experience it and you might learn something from it (never do that again, for example). It might be a rush that you think would be great to try again, to test your limits. But if it's one of your habits, you are just destroying yourself, your soul, your finer feelings. You are indulging in something incredibly base, engaging and encouraging your reptilian brain.

Wow, human beings can be ugly and vile, got it. Some are homicidal maniacs, have zero feelings for other human beings, and think that's really cool. Bush, for example.

But when it becomes entertainment, or tolerated in a leader, it's sick. And we need more mental health in this society, not less (obviously).

So, no, I don't want a nanny state. But I do think it would be cool if people turned away from the media nanny that provides and perpetuates a gross, immature vision of life.
So, I would say that there are still some non-lotus eaters out there, you and I among them, who can see things as they are. However, it's totally my choice if I'm going to drop out and eat lotus. It's the only logical choice in capitalism - for the sake of balancing unbalanceable equities - because as a non-lotus eater, I'm at the disadvantage of having to deal with reality and actually think through things. Eating lotus is also in its own way a fk you to the establishment. You don't have to pay attention, under the influence of engrossing entertainment, to the rest of the world. They tell you lotus is bad while they feed it to you, because that makes it sexy and seemingly rebellious.

Heh. So the choices are state-sanctioned faux-rebellion or vestigial-fantasy-revolution!

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