The first was the Quentin Tarantino movie Inglourious Basterds .
I should have remembered that Tarantino's signature is extreme and graphic violence, even though it is purportedly tongue-in-cheek - and an in-joke on other movies - and is therefore considered the last word in fashionable postmodern irony.
What's more disturbing by far than the actual images of blood and gore, however, is the psychopathic sadism and indifference to suffering displayed by the Brad Pitt character and his band of killers, who beat heads to pulp and twist fingers in
All of this is played for laughs. But what exactly are we supposed to be laughing at? Sadism? Suffering? Genocide?
Yet for such a stomach-turning farrago, Tarantino receives mass adulation. Apart from the Baftas, Inglourious Basterds has received eight Academy Award nominations and the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival. Michael Winterbottom
The second shock to my system at 38,000ft up was the American thriller Law Abiding Citizen.
...what makes it so repellent is the extreme sadism of the murders that the vengeful victim carries out, slowly dismembering his family's attacker in order to inflict upon him as much agony as possible - and in which the perpetrator of this
torture, the supposed victim of injustice, takes a psychopathic pleasure.
If there's supposed to be some message in these movies about revenge or justice, it certainly evaded me. These are simply exceptionally nasty, cynical pieces of celluloid trash.
The slickness in their making barely disguises the fact that these films are seriously sick. What is so disturbing is the sadism - the fact that the characters take such pleasure in causing other human beings extreme agony.
In one of the latest examples, the British director Michael Winterbottom has defended scenes in his film The Killer Inside Me that portray extreme violence against women.
This, apparently, depicts brutal scenes of rough sex and murder; the violence, carried out to a soundtrack of classical music, is depicted in close-up shots that leave little to the imagination.
So awful is all this that, when the movie was screened last weekend at the Berlin Film Festival, there were walk-outs and booing.
Winterbottom claimed he had deliberately set out to shock. If you make a film where the violence is entertaining, I think that's very questionable, he said.
That's why it is so sick. Winterbottom says it wouldn't lead to actual violence against women because such acts are depicted as ugly and the central character, a policeman with a secret liking of sadomasochistic sex, is an unattractive figure.
But this isn't how such films work on people's psyche. Their main danger is that they have in general a desensitising or brutalising effect - and may indeed inspire a few disturbed individuals to commit acts of violence themselves.
They break the taboos against extreme behaviour simply by portraying that behaviour - and thus help destroy the constraints that preserve elementary norms of decency.
...Read the full article
Comment: War on Fictional Violence
25th February 2010. From Dan
Saw the bit about Melanie Phillips and in flight torture porn. To hear a woman who supports the illegal mass murder of thousands of Iraqis and the Israeli war machine's slaughter of Palestinians bleating about the damaging effects of violent films