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Sunday, September 02, 2007

Rights And Responsibilities

WARNING: Major Spoilers for Wolf Creek are present in this post towards the bottom.

My husband works with kids who have behavioural difficulties. This ranges from kids who have a basic attitude problem because they're finding growing up hard, right through to kids who have been abused and/or neglected and kids with special educational needs such as Asperger Syndrome. I don't think he's paid even half what he's worth, especially since he loves working with these kids. And who else wants to? Not very many people. But that's a soapbox moment for another time.

One thing that my husband is required to do by law with these kids is have them work out, for themselves, what their rights and responsibilities are. Teens are notoriously self-obsessed, so they can pinpoint their rights with relative ease: I have a right to be listened to, to be an individual and so on and soforth. Yet what are their responsibilities? What is a responsibility, who should it be a responsibility to, why should it be one?

I was thinking last night about this very same subject with regards to what our rights and responsibilities are as writers and filmmakers then. On the blogs, bulletins, message boards etc we *seem* to have pinpointed our rights with that same ease as those recalcitrant teens (online people have demanded the right to write whatever we want, a right to courtesy from those producers et al who still don't reply to us, a right to training that is value for money, etc etc), yet in my view the notion of responsibility seems to have been somewhat disregarded. What ARE our responsibilities as writers and filmmakers? Why should we have them - or not? What constitutes a responsibility anyway and to whom??

FrightFest has just come and gone in London and it seems quite a furore has erupted over one particular film, Teeth. Sarah of The Dead has been most vocal in blogland over her disgust at this film, not only writing about it on her own blog but Jason's as well.

Now I haven't watched Teeth but I can tell you one thing: I am sick, sick, sick of reading scripts with rape in or any scenario where a woman is punished for enjoying and/or experimenting with sex. I've been quite vocal myself in the course of this blog about rape scenes and not just those on women either, but men too: what are they for? Are they horrifying? Yes. Are they needed in your storyline? 9/10 - no. In my view, if you really *must* include a rape scene (really? Are you SURE??), a suggestion of this horrifying act is far, far more effective than seeing every last gory detail. And please, please don't think you're "out there" whilst writing them and that it'll get you attention for being controversial either. Over the course of my script reading (roughly 5/6 years now, on and off), I have read loads of rape scenes, especially in the horror and thriller genres. They. Are. Not. Original!!!

In short though, I think rape scenes in scripts and the punishment of women in particular for enjoying sex is irresponsible. There are enough sickos in the world who will believe this sort of shit anyway: do they really need a new platform to indulge their fantasies? I don't believe those filmmakers or even writers are those sickos, it's just, by chasing sensationalism in this regard, are they adding to an already sick society and keeping a vicious circle going? Giving people what they might want is not always what they actually need, after all and whilst censorship is a pain in the bum to all artistes, are there not some subjects or elements where we might think, "Hhhhhmmmm...better not"?

I sat down to watch Wolf Creek last night. To say I was bored is an understatement - its lack of pace and meandering structure did my head in royally - but at the same time, I was disturbed by its insistence that it was based on actual events and that these were real people that this had happened to. Not because the film was actually any good I might add, but because at the end it flashed up in the credits that the two girls had never been found and their killer never brought to justice. Immediately I thought: their poor families had to put up with not only a badly-written film being made about their missing daughters, there was this hideous speculation as to what had actually happened to them - ie. they had been murdered in guresome fashion by this mysterious Crocodile Dundee character - which of course we couldn't possibly know, since the only "survivor" was completely omitted from the whole of Act 2 and not present when either of those two girls were killed!

But of course that survivor was not real, a Google search this morning reveals - and neither were those two girls. We're just supposed to think it was real so as to add to its visceral, cinema-verite angle. In short, it was cheating. Yet every single review you'll see is "based on actual events". What events were these, then? I'm thinking Peter Falconio's murder seems the most obvious, yet other than the fact he was murdered in The Outback (his girlfriend got away), there bears little other resemblance.

In any case, in order to utilise that "based on actual events" tag, surely there has to be a little responsibility employed here: if you're going to make a movie about real people, facing real hardhsip and/or suffering, you need your movie to have some kind of point? Wolf Creek had some nice scenery and some gory bits including the torture of one girl and the paralysis of another, culminating with the male character waking to find himself nailed to a cross. None of the characters worked together or learned anything about themselves, let alone vanquished the beast. What was this film trying to say? That nasty, terrible things can happen? We know this already from watching and reading the news - though Peter Falconio's family have it etched on their hearts forever, as do any other family who has suffered a loss as shocking as that. So why was Wolf Creek a movie? I have no idea, but I daresay there will be some fans out there in re-educate me!


Anya said...

I hate films with torture in - when that girl is pleading with the Aussie not to kill her I found it really unpleasant. Relieved it's not a true-true story though, thanks for that.

Lucy said...

Yes I was surprised, they're SO insistent it's true, etc etc I should have known it was a load of guff. What troubled me most was the fact that I had absoilutely no idea who was the protagonist in that film. It looked as if it was going to be the boy, then the thin girl, then boy again, then she took over for a good chunk, got killed, it switched to the other girl, she got killed, boy wakes up, staggers out into the desert - gets rescued.

Have to say - for an evil murderer, he really doesn't plan very well that Bush guy: all his victims escaped at some point. Since he's already killed loads of people, you'd have thought he be a bit better at keeping hold of them?

Anonymous said...

It's a horror film so it's supposed to be unpleasant and unsettling. It's also sucessfull precisely because it breaks lots of 'rules'. Nothing really happens for 60 minutes and the story focus switches between the three travellers. And why not? There's more ways than Syd Field's surely.

In fact there is very little actual violence (compare it to Hostel for example) but a lot of implied threats.In fact it's quite subtle and if unsettling I suspect its because it is possibly closer to what could happen if you were caught in the hands of a maniac.

Lucy said...

Of course horror is supposed to be unpleasant and unsettling - that's why I watch it. But this was unpleasant and unsettling on the basis I worried about those girls' (as it turns out, fake) families, not actually 'cos of the content which was rather familiar and as you say, tame. And a movie where "nothing really happens for 60 mins" is not the most shining of recommendations to my mind.

Elinor said...

In view of the fake nature of the film would it not be viewed as an exploitation movie? In this case an exploitation of audience concern? For what its worth, I thought the film missed opportunities in its rambling point of view, the supposedly mystical nature of the killer etc.
For a turly horrific evocation of rape and its effects look out for 'Warchild' which I saw at EIFF. The 'victim' never refers directly to her experience in a rape camp, nor is it depicted yet we are left in no doubt as to the gravity of that experience for the central character.

Lucy said...

That's it Elinor - you've found a word for my feelings on the matter! I DO feel exploited. Last night I lay awake worrying about what those girls' (fake) families must think of that film and the depiction of their daughters' supposed demises. That's not entertainment, that's taking advantage in my view.

I will look out for War Child - another that's very good is THE GENERAL'S DAUGHTER. Though you "see" the rape, you actually see nothing as the psychiatrist relates what happened to his patient. A good compromise perhaps.

Jason Arnopp said...

Blimey O'Reilley, madam: talk about different strokes for different folks. Wolf Creek was one of my favourite films of 2005! I love a good cold-hearted, disturbing horror flick see, and it fitted my bill wonderfully. I also loved it for a few of the reasons you disliked it - the uncertainty of who the protagonist was, especially. In horror movies - especially ones which seem to follow the slasher formula - it's great to occasionally be uncertain who will survive. Wolf Creek pulled this off brilliantly, and I loved the slow build-up which allowed us to like the characters more than we otherwise might with a 'hit the ground running' approach. I also felt it had a pretty well-defined two-act structure, even going to the lengths of turning the screen black between them, like a play. Anyway, I reviewed the film on my horror site Slasherama at

The allegedly true-life aspect initially sat uneasily with me too. So I quizzed director Greg Mclean about it around the time of the film's release, and you can see his answers here:

As for film-makers' and writers' responsibilites, my feeling is that we have none, apart from to deliver great stories. I don't see films as socio-political manifestos, which is why it really bugs me when a film itself is branded 'misogynist' or any other '-ist'. See, if we start thinking 'responsible' while writing, then we may as well stick to kids' soaps, where every negative/illegal/non-PC action has to be seen to be punished in some way...

Lucy said...

I'm a fan of "build up" to stories too, you don't always have to go MTV on everybody's ass - but if Wolf Creek was going to do this, then why not invest in character more so I actually gave a shit when people died? Instead I'm all caught up in the ins and outs OUTSIDE of the story which I find out anyway is just a load of bullshit. WTF?

I think it was Hitchcock who said "An audience asking questions is an audience not emoting" or words to that effect. Whatever, anyway. You like it, I don't, life's rich tapestry blah blah blah. Sarah pretty much sums up my feelings about this film.

"See, if we start thinking 'responsible' while writing, then we may as well stick to kids' soaps, where every negative/illegal/non-PC action has to be seen to be punished in some way..."

Soz, but that is positively WARPED as far as I'm concerned... I'm not sanctioning the censorship of everything in the world. That would be ridiculous, especially since I like to write lots of violence and sex. I believe absolutely in free speech.

But philosophically, there has to be a place for responsibility, for saying, to ourselves: is there a line that I SHOULDN'T cross and where is that, exactly? That doesn't actually have to be within the storyline itself but the actual NATURE of the film. What I object to most about Wolf Creek is the fact there's little point to it as far as I can see: backpackers get butchered in the desert, nothing to see here, move along now! YAWN!

Seriously though, as unpopular a notion as it is, media images have to have some effect on us, our actions and/or thinking. Advertising works, this is never disputed - yet the same intelligent people will say there is no such thing as copycat murder or a misogynist film.

And btw - clearly U don't watch much kids' TV Jase - have you not watched MY PARENTS ARE ALIENS? The Dad has homosexual leanings towards his foster son's friends so obvious that my cat could notice them. What's more, it's an actual feature and not apologised for in the slightest.

Anonymous said...

I liked Wolf Creek. But a quick look here and on the internet reveals a gender divide, don't ya think?

Luv Mike

Lucy said...

That's one way of looking at it Mike... Or maybe you've just lost your mind?! ; P

Jason Arnopp said...

"What I object to most about Wolf Creek is the fact there's little point to it as far as I can see: backpackers get butchered in the desert, nothing to see here, move along now! YAWN!"

See, that's the thing. You either enjoy watching fictional characters being sliced, diced and generally inconvenienced, or you don't. Slasher movies are a tad like Motorhead: they've only got one song, but if you like that song, you're sorted.

My Parents Are Aliens? Nope, haven't had the pleasure, madam. And coming from you, I'll take 'warped' as a compliment. :-D

Good Dog said...

I was going to comment about this but it would mean using the phrase "demented sick fuckos" and I'm not sure if it's impolite to say that here.

Good Dog said...

Okay, so it looks like I've done it...

Maybe it's an age thing, but to me horror films meant scary films: ones that creeped me out or gave me the odd shock.

I don't get how people can be entertained by extended torture sccenes. I don't why writers and directors would want to make this sort of sick shit.

What is the merit to it? People being mutilate, women being abused... folk who make this sort of stuff have serious issues that need to be addressed.

They're serious DSFs and deserved a massive great cockpunch.

Jon Peacey said...

I would agree with your gist Lucy and I’m afraid this will get long.

The ‘based on’ tag is quite a staple and often a lie (Blair Witch, Chainsaw Massacre and Fargo) and is often used ‘to add verisimilitude to an otherwise bold and unconvincing narrative’.

Wolf Creek was banned in Australia’s Northern Territory so as not to prejudice the Falconio trial. I didn’t have many problems with this particular film: the shifting protagonist allowed for each teen to lose a degree of anonymity and thereby retain a little humanity.

I would assert that nearly every film is at some level a socio-political manifesto being both a reflection and reflector on society. What we produce, accept and/or enjoy as a society is surely telling. If we accept enjoyment of, albeit fictitious, torture, misogyny or racism (looking further back) is this not condoning it to an extent? (Consider the changed attitude to Birth Of A Nation where the Klansmen are heroes.)

Is so-called ‘torture porn’ a reflection of an Abu-Ghraib inspiring age or a softening up for further abuses and the eventual legitimization of real torture? ‘Torture porn’ has seemed specific to the US. A major element of demonizing a group is dehumanization, to harm someone they have to be seen as less than human: is showing ALL other people as mere objects to be destroyed in various inventive ways actually wise?

It surely must be accepted that people are influenced by what they see. Didn’t Jew Suss and Triumph Of The Will serve the Nazis well? Didn’t In Which We Serve and This Happy Breed affect British morale? What about the News Of The World’s paedophile naming and shaming? Was it The Sun ‘wot won it’ in 1997? Are the billions poured into advertizing and product placements merely charitable donations to TV and film companies? Hasn’t Friends’ speaking mannerisms and AQI become all pervasive? Isn’t promoting something as enjoyable, whether it’s shampoo or killing, an advert? Do films exist in a vacuum?

In British law there is an offence of Incitement which doesn't just include asking someone to commit an offence but also of ‘counselling’ them to commit one. Such an incitement can be implied rather than express. How long will it be before it’s used to prosecute a film-maker or distributor? It'll probably come down to context but isn’t context everything?

The big question has to be what kind of person actually wants to watch the torture part? Surely the only reason for watching is enjoyment or revulsion: if you’re revulsed why are you continuing to watch? Is it a new form of self-harm? If you’re enjoying it, well…?

There is surely as much responsibility when engaging with an audience as there is when engaging with the ‘person in the street’.

Jon Peacey said...

I should mention I love horror films and really don’t want to go back to the days of heavy-handed censorship or the Lord Chamberlain’s Office. I don't watch them to see people being sliced and diced, I watch them for the tension... they used to be called 'chiller' or 'horror THRILLERS' after all.

And Lucy, you’re also right about My Parents Are Aliens: it's quite disturbing when you think about the ages and ramifications involved.

Anonymous said...

Lost my mind?! Lol, cheeky. But don't expect nowt less from you m'lady.

Men must have more basic tastes than women though, right? I mean, I like kebabs and my girlie likes cordon bleu and all that. Or is it that we're just more basic, full stop and don't empathise with characters that get tortured etc in the same way? But of course now this train of thought is shagged 'cos Good Dog and Jon agree with you Lucy. I'll shut up now.

Luv Mike

Eat My Shorts said...

I told you NOT to watch it bro, not 'cos of the torture but 'cos of the fact it was shit if you remember. I said it was the most boring film I had seen in bloody years. Those characters were totally flat, with little backstory and no interesting/redeeming features as far as I could see. Plus when she's looking through the window watching that girl being tortured -- how old is that?!? And where did that Ben character go? Do we care? Um--no (or at least I didn't). And then he just walks away, just like that when the other girls couldn't EVEN WITH A TRUCK cos a cliff is in the way. Convenient! I like slasher movies btw but that sucked ass big style.

Lucy said...

smMike and ESM - Whoa boys, don't start a family feud on my blog! ; ) With you two always on here and Anya and her husband usually disagreeing too, I'm beginning to worry that this might blog might get cited in court someday!

Jon - all good points, eloquently put but I don't know if I agree that the homosexuality aspect of MY PARENTS ARE ALIENS is "disturbing" so much as annoying. At the end of the day, I want to educate my children about peoplem and preference, yet TV and film sets itself up as this authority all the time when I think it's a poor substitute for proper parenting. Of course, many parents out there suck, etc etc, but that's not the point for me.

Good Dog - I don't think it's age, I actually agree with you. Torture porn does nothing for me in terms of shock except piss me off. I had previously avoided Wolf Creek because of this, only to have someone recommend it to me, hence the late viewing. Someone said to me the other day that that "type" of film was "adolescent". I couldn't agree more.

Jason - whilst slasher movies are not my fave genre of horror (I prefer vampires, monsters/aliens, werewolves, devils, angels - the "fantastic marvellous" as philosopher Todorov puts it), I have enjoyed such films with homicidal maniacs in. HALLOWEEN is one example, SEVERANCE another. What I like about the latter and not about Wolf Creek is the fact that Halloween and Severance employ the notion of what film books call "The Monstrous Other" - the antagonist/s is a bogeyman of a kind, preying on those thoughts of monsters you had as a child. Plus there was a motivation for each of the killers in those films - a fear/revulsion of sex in Michael Myers' case and a hatred of Palisade by the Severance Killers. The point was there was no point with this Bush guy in Wolf Creek and it's all very post modern, but ultimately does not do it for me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jason that writers shouldn't feel that they can't tell certain stories. But the censorship debate runs into trouble when writers and filmmakers take 'we shouldn't be censored' to mean 'I'm going to do what the hell I like, and screw you if you don't like it. And if it has an adverse effect on individuals or society then tough because I won't have my right to free expression curtailed.'

Personally I hate 'cautionary' tales, especially given how many of them I've had to write while working on soaps. That to one side the casual use of rape to entertain angers me.

There were some very smart torture horror films in the first wave. Not to my personal taste but I absolutely see the artistic merit in a genre re-defining film like Saw. A lot of what's come after though aint that so much clever as gratutious.


Chip Smith said...

I'm not so sure that people who make so-called 'torture porn' movies have any serious psychological problems that they need to address: to a certain degree, they are responding to the basic economic issue of supply and demand. If a movie like Saw can get bums on seats, then's who's to say that Hostel won't either? A factor borne out by the release of Hostel II. And doesn't Severance contain its own little 'torture porn' sequence as well?

I saw Wolf Creek a little while back and felt the same way as Lucy - i.e., what is the point of this exactly? However, I tend to like films that play with the notion of exactly who the protagonist is - The Prestige anyone?

Lucy said...

Chip - the notion of "supply and Demand" isn't a big enough justification for me. On this basis the deluge of crappy moronic Reality TV in the vein of Big Brother is justified solely on the basis that people want it. But what you want is not always what you need, as I say in the article. As for torture porn in SEVERANCE, that really didn't feature on my radar at all - are you talking about Gordon's demise? His death was shocking for the very reason it wasn't "extended" as GD says. I think that's basically my problem with these scenes - they go on for too long and how does it push the story forward? It doesn't in my view.

DD - good points there. I think my view on censorship is not so much that certain stories shouldn't be told, but we should take greater care in how they are presented sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Don't think Chip's argument stands up unless you're more the most extreme kind of libertarian.

There's clearly demand for all sorts of things that society deems beyond the pale - heroin, child pornography, snuff movies.

No one's saying that filmmakers or writers should censor what they do, just that they need to consider the potential impact on wider society.

Good Dog said...

Oh, and Hostel II absolutely tanked in the US at least, which is a very good thing.

I wrote something a while back about brief torture scenes within a film/TV drama and just full on, extended, from opening titles to end credits, one give torture.

The latter is witless. The later is for rancid little twerps made by rancid little twerps. These are the guys who couldn't get a girlfriend when they were in school or college or become part of a social crowd.

If you want to read about n absolutely horrific torture sequence, go get Dennis Lehane's Darkness Take My Hand. It is brutal and thoroughly unpleasant. But in the context of the whole story it is understandable, and the consequences of that action are equally brutal.

Or you could just sit and watch 90 minutes of Chop the Bitch Up 2: Die, Die, Die, You Whore!

You could argue that allowing these cock-knockers to vent whatever obvious frustrations they have on film is better than waiting until they eventually snap and climb up the water tower with a bolt action rifle. But most of their are probably way too pussy to do that.

Remake of Halloween opened in the US with $26.5m, by the way.

Chip Smith said...

I was responding to a comment that GD made, and wasn't suggesting that supply and demand is a 'justification' for movies of this type, just that there is a demand for them. Film is a business after all.

Regardless of the fact that I can't stand the latest round of torture porn flicks (Hostel for example is pure and utter tosh), there are plenty of people who do like them - which makes them legitimate 'products' from a purely economic point of view.

Oli said...


I assume everyone's already read this, but just in case, Joss Whedon has a good old rant about misogyny in horror movies here.

I liked the first half of Wolf Creek, and had to fast forward through the second half as I found it all too unpleasant. The girls in particular put in very good performances, but I can't watch a)torture in horror movies b)rape or c)films where bad stuff happens and nothing is achieved.

I'm fine with torture in action/thrillers, probably because in those films you know it's going to end with the hero getting out and kicking the torturer's ass rather than just dying - compare Lethal Weapon to Hostel, for example.

As for the bad things happening but nothing being achieved... I'm okay with everybody dying if they do something great in the process, see Sunshine. The crew all die but the world is saved. Bonza. On the other hand, it doesn't have to be about death... Closer, for example, was one of the most horrible films I've ever seen. People do really shitty things to each other for two hours, then it ends. See also Kids. Nothing is achieved in either of these films.

And then onto the R word... I don't think any writer has the right to go anywhere near this. My exception would be rape victims themselves, who are the only qualified people to even consider it; see The Lovely Bones. Making it a point of entertainment, along the lines of Teeth is out of the question, doubly so for male writers.

Chip Smith said...

I found this quote from Cronenberg which is quite illuminating:

“Having children has assured me that there is a built-in resistance to exposure to things which might actually be damaging... I’ve found with my own kids that they literally put their hands over their eyes in order not to see something they can’t take. At the same time, they do have a definite desire to test themselves, to take themselves to the limit in terms of what’s scary or disturbing.”

I don’t like films such as Hostel, et al, but rather than condemning them, is it not better to try and understand what makes them popular (the tanking of Hostel II notwithstanding)? The fact that extended torture sequences do not take the story forward is perhaps a little redundant in light of the fact that horror can be a genre where you can test your susceptibility to scary or disturbing images. In addition, could we be talking about a generational thing here? What I find scary or disturbing is not necessarily the same as what an 18 year old would (I have a nephew this age and he loves Hostel – I can’t stand it, and maybe that’s something that’s worthwhile exploring).

Lucy said...

I don't think that a good parent lets their kid (and we're talking 16 and under here) self regulate. Why? 'Cos kids don't know when to stop. Ever. They'd eat sweets (or if they're older, drink/smoke etc) until they throw up, why not watch horror movies until they're unable to sleep?? (That being the least of our problems of course, The Columbine Boys loved their scary movies apparently).

In my view, the reason these torture porn movies are popular is because we don't know when to stop. We're like those little kids, wanting more and more and more. It's more illuminating for me that something like ALIEN VS PREDATOR that has ten times the gore of the original is a 15 in the UK, when the first was an 18. We can take more, so we demand more - but the real question for me is, should we have it?

Chip Smith said...

I left an important part of the Cronenberg quote out! As follows: "The only problem is when adults drag a kid to a movie and the kid can't get away and doesn't want to be exposed."

And weren't the Columbine boys big Matrix fans as well?!

Jon Peacey said...

Lucy- It wasn't the homosexuality in My Parents Are Aliens that's perturbing but the ages involved: the Dad is in his 30's and the foster son starts off played by a 13 year old so presumably his friends are of similar ages. I'd find it just as perturbing if it was a 35 year old man eyeing up 13 year old girls!

The Columbine Boys also loved first-person shoot-em-ups: taught them how to shoot properly. Now, some military organizations use the same games to train their troops…

DD- I agree that the creative artist shouldn't self-censor a story. Muslim being replaced by animal rights activist as suicide bomber in Casualty is an invidious case in point. The Theo Van Gogh murder has muddied the water as well: ‘give me freedom or give me death’ is great in abstract but how many of us actually have the courage? The right to free expression is important but misunderstood: the freedom to receive and impart ideas was surely enshrined to protect political opinion (the ECHR being drafted in 1950). This is Article 10. (Article 2 is the Right to Life; Article 3 is Prohibition of Torture.) The big irony is that while it has become easier to show extreme decontextualized violence reading a list of names at the cenotaph will get you a criminal record and holding a placard in Parliament Square will get you stopped, searched, fingerprinted and cautioned. Funny old world!

Chip- Surely the major problem is not the single image or scene of torture or extreme violence but the continued/ continual exposure to such scenes. I don’t think any film should be held responsible for the actions of one deluded psychopath but a diet of something can harden the heart of anyone, adult or child. (‘Treat people like scum, they’ll start acting like scum’- Cracker)

The makers want to make money: it’s possibly the audience motivation that should be looked at more. Just look at the taglines and images used to advertize some of the recent movies: bound naked girl hanging upside down (Hostel 2 poster), 'Suffering? You haven't seen anything yet.' (Saw 3 tagline), attractive girl being buried alive (Captivity poster), the most used publicity promo for Hostel 2 was a lingerie-clad pretty blonde terrorized, bound and gagged with mascara running down her face. What does this say about the audience the makers want or expect? Horror used to be advertized as a journey for either the audience or the characters (even up to Saw with its ‘Dare you see Saw’) but didn’t solely hook people with the lure of violence, particularly against women. Is movie torture a means to an end or an end by any means?

Cases of animal cruelty are now rising at unprecedented rates, some of the worst tortures recorded to ‘enjoy’ later- the cat thrown 4 times from a high-rise that runs and hides only to be dragged out and thrown again is the one that has never left me since they showed the (edited) footage on the regional news prog- it dies.

When a vicious fight breaks out do people get out their mobiles to call the police or do they get them out to record the incident to share with other aficionados on the net later? I can’t believe these new attitudes just came out of nowhere.

We don’t expect kids to know where to stop. We should expect it from adults. Kids learn their values by copying ours.

Chip Smith said...

Jon - there is a brilliant book by Tom Dewe Matthews entitled Censored that addresses some of the points you raise here. What the BBFC did to The Evil Dead (a film I love) is a case in point. If you haven't read it, I can definitely recommend it.

Jon Peacey said...

Censored's a great overview of the BBFC's role but I haven't read it for a long time. (The Evil Dead debacle managed to mirror the Straw Dogs one a decade before.) I forgot some (all?) of the 'video nasties' were advertized for the joy of violence even if the film itself didn't focus on it (the atrocious Driller Killer!).

The funniest censorship has to be the film of bacteria in cheese that was banned. The most important fact mentioned is that the BBFC was and is to protect cinema exhibitors from prosecution for Obscenity and latterly relevant animal and child protection laws but has no statutary role (unlike for video) which is why local councils can overrule. I do wonder if this was more widely known whether there might not be mutterings in the Shires.

I never 'got' Evil Dead and preferred the second. I first saw the second when I was younger when it was broadcast over the stage-side screens at a Guns N' Roses' concert between acts. I never quite understood why they got away with that (kids in the audience, 18 cert, etc.) when the council had got very upset by the potential use of the word 'fuck'!

Chip Smith said...

Some of the stuff that Stephen Woolley said about the BBFC's decision to cut Evil Dead is quite interesting (i.e., to cut prolonged violent sequences makes them more horrific, not less).

Right, I'm off now to watch SS Experiment Camp! ;-)

Jon Peacey said...

To try and make Straw Dogs more acceptable they managed the self-same thing.

Over the years I've seen many descriptions of films on the BBFC website and found some pretty scary explanations for bans and cuts (I wish I'd kept a list) but this one really takes the biscuit:

Makes you wonder what the distributor was smoking/ drinking/ drilling into their head to think it might stand any possible chance to get a certificate!!!

Lucy said...

I think anyone who makes a film called LOVE CAMP is probably a little optimistic, so perhaps that was the problem?

Jon Peacey said...

The distributor was Nigel Wingrove's Salvation Films outfit. But you'd have thought after all the brouhaha (lovely word) they'd been through with Bare Behind Bars, Visions Of Ecstasy and so on that they wouldn't throw money away trying to get a cert for this sort of pointless nastiness!

I just think the BBFC's reasoning for declining the cert is so brilliantly damning. Leaves absolutely no room gainsaying.

Piers said...

Also: Those Columbine boys loved to go bowling.

Y'know. While we're blaming random points of popular culture for what two idiotic sociopaths do, I feel it would be irresponsible not to mention it.

Lucy said...

Aaah: I love the smell of sarcasm in the morning. It really serves an argument well.

Jason Arnopp said...

Go Piers! :)

And if the Crazy Frog ringtone had been around back then, I'll wager it would've driven 'em even more bonkers...

James Moran said...

Okay, quickly as I can, cause I have to leave the house:

Like someone in the comments here (can't find it now) says, the only responsibility we have is to the story, and to make a good movie. That's it. If some nutcase decides to copy something in your movie, that's not your fault, they were clearly disturbed to begin with.

The point of horror, for me, is to scare, or horrify, or disgust, and so on. Wolf Creek failed to do that for you, fair enough. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have a point. It simply wanted to scare you and horrify you. Sure, it failed. It failed for me because of some massive plot contrivances (not killing the killer when you have a chance, the killer magically knowing what car you're about to get into and hiding in the back seat, etc). But it did occasionally scare me, partly because John Jarratt was terrifying, partly because of the head on a stick moment, which I'll never forget. So it succeeded in that regard. But it's a badly flawed movie.

Also, can we lay the whole "torture porn" thing to rest? You're not supposed to enjoy the torture - you're supposed to want the victim to get away. That's the whole point. And yes, some movies that do have extended torture sequences are just boring. Like someone else (can't find it again) here says, the scares come from worrying if someone's going to get caught or not. When they do, you can last about 5 minutes before the torture ceases to be scary. But if someone wants to make a 2 hour torture fest, that's fine, if they think it makes for a scary movie, go for it. I'll give it a miss, but that's my choice. People like horror, different types of horror, and there's nothing wrong with any of it. Unless it isn't scary.

Personally, I think people who make bad romantic comedies should be strung up and dismembered. And yet, if I actually did that, *I* would be the monster. Where's the justice in that, eh? Eh? Nowhere, that's where.

Oli said...

I count both the Evil Dead and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre amongst my favourite films. I was until recently rabidly anti-censorship. However...

I politely disagree with James. In the recent torture-porn movies, you are supposed to enjoy the torture. That's their entire point. It's usually directed at pretty young women, written and directed by men.

Yes, this has always been an element of the horror genre, "the big breasted girl running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door", but it's more pronounced than it ever was before, like it's been distilled. Even as recently as the first Saw movie, which I liked in spite of its obvious daftness, it wasn't as bad as it is now. It wasn't about torture, it was a twisty horror-thriller with some torture in it.

I also think the 'porn' tag is accurate, because they're without artistic merit, which for me is the difference between traditional porn and a real movie with sex in it.

I don't follow the concept that someone who fills their movies with racist or misogynist characters is themselves necessarily racist or misogynistic, much in the same way that a genius can write a stupid character. I never assumed Wes Craven was a child-murderer because he wrote a Nightmare on Elm Street. But Wes Craven had range, albeit range within the horror genre. If you keep coming back to the same offensive themes again and again for the sake of them being offensive/getting you off, and that's all you have to offer, I have to assume you're an unpleasant person. No one assumed Neil LaBute was as nasty as the characters in In the Company of Men, but as time and his films go on and on with the theme of "women are evil/to be toyed with", you have to wonder.

Oh, and if Eli Roth ever offers you a drink, I wouldn't take it.

Lucy said...

Jason - making fun of an event that can only be described as *true* horror is beneath all of us. But that's just my opinion.

James, I agree with Oli: you are supposed to enjoy the torture, it's one of these films' main features, a spectacle in its own right. Whatever we think of these movies, what I'm arguing with ref to responsibility is not so much "is it a good film?" in terms of artistic merit as "if we are making these torture films and people want them and we make more, is this actually the best thing we could be doing philosophically-speaking at this moment in time?"

My answer is no.

Jason Arnopp said...

Lucy, I wasn't making fun of the Columbine tragedy itself, and I'm disappointed you thought so.

I was making fun of the Big Stupid Search For Blame, which led to artists like Marilyn Manson being demonised post-Columbine - and all this talk about writerly responsibility, which drives me so mad I've practically bitten my own tongue off as this thread progressed.

Writers can write about whatever they like, that's the bottom line. The torture-porn sub-genre is a welcome shot in the arm for horror, which like most sub-genres, won't last long. So relax, folks, that naughty, offensive t-porn will be gone before you know it. Probably to be replaced by the nun-decapitation genre, or something.

Lucy said...

Apologies if you're disappointed Jason but just as the notion of writerly responsibility angers you, flippant remarks get my veritable goat in the context of stuff like that.

We can't know what affects people and what doesn't though. For that very reason, I believe it is wise to exercise *some* caution. That's not to say I think stuff like Marilyn Manson etc should be banned - that's just knee jerk reaction crap, just as it was for Child's Play in the Bulger case and even as far back as the Penny Dreadfuls of Victorian Times and the behaviour of young boys. I'm not talking about that. That's tabloid-style attachment of blame and that serves no one.

What I'm talking about is, actually, re/presentation as I've gone into on this blog before: if we think about what makes US, how we SHOW STUFF (oo er) which not only says something about us, it sends a message to the outside world - in the same way we do constantly every day through our verbal and non-verbal communication. Which is most likely why Oli, having reviewed several films by Eli Roth is suspicious enough about his motivations to say he wouldn't accept a drink from him if I am interpreting his comment correctly... Oli?

Jason Arnopp said...

Taking Hostel as an example (and there really aren't many examples in this alleged 'wave' of t-porn flicks... Saw movies at a push, Hostel I & II, Captivity, Live Feed... um...), I'd imagine Eli Roth wanted to express two things.

(1) A look into the darkest heart of man. I find Hostel pretty damn scary on a psychological level - it's a fantastic, frightening concept, that human beings would actually pay to torture others in dingy Eastern European hideouts.

(2) His love of splashy gore and nasty horror.

When those two combined, it was bound to not be everyone's cup of tea. But no-one's forcing anyone to watch a Hostel movie. And artistic merit is in the eye of the beholder.

Oli said...

I in no way think that horror films, controversial art, heavy metal music or Dungeons and Dragons contribute to any person's decisions in life, beyond wearing a bit more black than most people find acceptable. I will defend this to the death. I am very fond of three of the above, and have a passing and pleasant acquaintance with the other, which extends to thinking 'Master of Puppets' is quite good.

I do have a problem encouraging people who are genuinely already 'not right'. Eli Roth is a hateful man, in much the same way as Bernard Manning was. Bernard Manning and Jimmy Carr both make jokes that push the boundaries of taste. One of them meant it, the other was playing with what you can and cannot say for shock value.

I love horror movies, but here's my thing, and I've never met either of them, so forgive my lazy conjecture: I don't believe John Carpenter wouldn't watch a snuff movie. Eli would, and if such a thing exists, probably has. Eli Roth is that creepy kid who hung out in the IT suite giggling to himself whilst looking at Jpegs of crushed kittens. He did, after all, get the idea for Hostel after searching for 'the sickest thing he could find', which cumulated in a Vietnamese website where you could shoot terminally ill people in the head for a donation to their family. I would not be surprised if Eli Roth was arrested for sexual offences, both on the basis of his films and his interviews.

I may have taken this too far. The last 'shoot 'em in the head' website may have been no more than every PR BS that accompanies the release of a new horror film ("of course, the location we were filming at was the site of several murders, and was terribly haunted...")

I agree that artistic merit is in the eye of the beholder. I find none in Hostel I or II, Captivity, etc. Others may. Personally, I think they fail as stories, regardless of the gore. Ultimately, you have no responsibility as a writer at all. It's a blank canvas. However, you do have a responsibility as a human to, for example, not think that rape is funny. The decision to exclude a 'comedy rape' scene from your movie is not a responsibility as a writer, but as a decent person. I wouldn't buy a Bernard Manning ticket (harder now, of course), nor an Eli Roth ticket. Because they mean it, man.

Lucy said...


Besides libel ("due care", anyone?) are you not being as "wrong" on the opposite end of the scale as you accuse these guys? There's one school of thought that says opposite ends of the scale actually come full circle and join up side by side: dunno if this is actually true, but I don't think extremism is helpful in philosophical debate personally.

We all form opinions about people because of their work. That doesn't mean it's actually true. Re/presentation only goes so far - what if Eli Roth was only going, "show me the money"? He might have a family, lots of ex-wives or cats and dogs to feed. And given the fact that so many people want these films, he may be like any one of us who may be tempted to think, "Why not... What difference does one tiny film make?" Doesn't mean we have to like it, but not everything has to have an ulterior motive.

Oli said...

I'm sure I'm not the first person to suggest Eli Roth's repugnant. Hoping I don't get sued now that you bring it up, though...

Also not suggesting that watching the films he makes makes you a de facto creep, but the man himself? Genuinely creepy and unpleasant.

Most features written about him, which are in the business of kissing his ass, say something like "You may think he's creepy and repugnant, but don't" and then never justify it. So still I say, creepy.

This has gone off the rails a bit, hasn't it?

Oli said...

Also, reading back I don't think this is necessarily clear enough: I was comparing and contrasting Jimmy Carr to Bernard Manning. I quite like Jimmy Carr.

English Dave said...

Rape for tittilation is clearly a bad thing. Catering to the worst sections of society.

But rape happens. And in my view should never be a taboo subject. Nor should anything. It is the handling of the subject that seperates exploitative from insightful drama.

Is that a ''responsibility'' of a writer?

In my view ''responsibility'' shouldn't factor that highly in a writer's mentality. Actually having something worth saying should. That should cancel out the exploitative element.

Eli Roth said...

That's it. Now I know who my enemies are, I will hunt you all down* - especially Oli.


*Except Piers, James and Jason, they can be my buddies.

Oli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oli said...

So I get to be in a movie? Hooray!

Jon Peacey said...

One minor thing, two separate issues havee at times been conflated in these comments: artistic merit and a work's consequences.

Triumph Of The Will and Olympia are both artistic triumphs and both use this artistry to espouse support for the Nazi regime.

I'm sure it is theoretically possible to produce a snuff film with artistic merit (if the maker were deranged enough) but would that be enough to excuse the content, message or possible consequences of viewing?

(BTW: just want to make it clear this is not a criticism of ED's coment which I, by and large agree with, but a general thought... please don't shout at me ED! ;-)

Jason Arnopp said...

The funniest dialogue I ever saw in a porn movie is as follows...

An older woman is auditioning a younger woman who wants to be a porn star.

Older Woman: Do you do anal?

Younger Woman: If the script justifies it...

Jon Peacey said...

Sounds like an exchange that was in Boogie Nights or some other thing which featured porn and/or interviews. I don't know, can't remember anything these days!

English Dave said...


Lenni Rhiefensthal or whatever her name was, obviously had talent. Morally, in hindsight she was misguided.

One of the dangers a writer faces is that they mistake popularity by those in power for having something meaningful to say.

Lenni was the Queen of Nazi propoganda. I'd say at the time she was just doing the best job she could given the material.

But in my book that's still a sell out.

Lucy said...

"One of the dangers a writer faces is that they mistake popularity by those in power for having something meaningful to say."

Couldn't agree more ED - anyone remember "Cool Britannia" circa 1997? Yikes.

Sarah of the Dead said...


I just noticed someone visited my Teeth review through this post, and I wanted to e-mail you but couldn't find an address.

THANK YOU. Thank you for criticising Wolf Creek. Thank you for damning rape in film. Thank you for watching that film and thinking intelligently about it afterwards, and writing about it so well.

After Teeth, I couldn't find anyone else who was as affected by it as I was. I literally came out of that cinema shaking with rage - both at the content of the film and the audience who laughed heartily as a young girl got raped over and over again. I cried when I got home, and I am utterly depressed that so many people just think it's an innocent comedy. I know you've not seen it, but ... I'm so angry, I can barely keep quiet. And yet I think I have to, because everyone else thought it was "funny."

I'm not sure what my point is, but thanks for not making me feel so alone in speaking out about films like Wolf Creek. I've already been silenced on a forum for pointing out that one director is a misogynist bully (who's made physical threats against me as a result of my review of his dreadful film, at that) and I'm just sick of being told to shut up because I'm just a woman and films aren't made for me.

Sarah Dobbs said...

Reading some of the other comments here, I've got myself into a bit of a lather. I do not understand for the life of me why it is that seemingly intelligent, rational men - men who would not stand for racist or homophobic comments to be made in their presence; men who purport to believe in equal rights for all human beings - will happily watch misogynist films. In fact, they'll argue that to oppose sexism is akin to censorship. What is that about? It doesn't make sense to me. But a lot of men seem to instantly bristle whenever you criticise something like Wolf Creek or Knocked Up for being misogynist; because, I suspect, they enjoyed it. Because sexism doesn't matter to them? I don't know.

English Dave said...

I dont know what TEETH is. This is the first I've heard of it.

I might watch it now.
God bless the internet.

Lucy said...

Thanks Sarah, glad you appreciate the post. To be honest, I don't think it's that sexism doesn't matter to men, it's that they don't think about it. Probably because it doesn't happen to them much, if at all. In the same way a white man living in an area like Devon will find it hard to understand the concerns of people of differing ethnic backgrounds in big cities, perhaps. Empathy is a strong element in understanding, not to mention relating to, others' POVs.

ED - yes, the irony of this thread is that some people will now be intrigued enough to watch Hostel, Teeth, etc when they perhaps would have before. But who knows? Maybe they'll also carry some of the opinions of others on this thread in the backs of their minds too and when watching see what they actually mean?

the artiste said...

Men can be feminists too. We think of feminism as being radical feminism, but really it's about achieving real, equal rights. Which women still don't have, which (even as a man!) I think is outrageous.

For the record I hated Hostel.

Lucy said...

Obviously I don't mean ALL men don't think about it Artiste, sorry if it sounded that way. It's just that I don't think of sexism as massive conspiracy as such as more about society not encouraging men to see women's side of things as much in this regard, that's all.

Chip Smith said...

Bearing in mind Sarah's comments on Teeth (which I haven't seen), I'd be intrigued to know what she thinks of Irreversible, which features a very lengthy rape scene. It wasn't sold as a horror film, but personally speaking, I found that scene more horrific than anything that Hostel or Wolf Creek could summon up - I guess the argument being that if you have to show it at all, make sure that it's as stomach churningly awful as you can make it, which I think Gaspar Noe succeeds in doing. How anyone could derive pleasure from watching it is beyond me. That said, is there an argument that says a film like this shouldn't be made at all?

English Dave said...

Lucy -With all due respect. Fuck the opinion of others.

Write what is valid.

Piers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Piers said...

Sarah: "I do not understand for the life of me why it is that seemingly intelligent, rational men - men who would not stand for racist or homophobic comments to be made in their presence; men who purport to believe in equal rights for all human beings - will happily watch misogynist films."

For the record, I have also read the SCUM manifesto.

Lucy said...

Piers - you lost me there.

ED - you sound like my script mentor: "FUCK 'EM DARLING!" he always says. Tho whether he means ignore bad reviews or is offering actual career advice I'm unsure ; )

Anonymous said...

Lucy said...

Thanks Anonymous. Looked it up earlier.

Answering Misogynism with Misandyrism hardly helps matters in my view.

Jon Peacey said...

I rather like the philosophy that a person should be judged not by what they are but by what they say and do....

I know, very silly of me. Possibly naive. And there's probably some really huge flaws in it!

Jon Peacey said...

I'd just like to point out that I meant 'judge' in an entirely non-judgemental way of course! ;-)

Jason Arnopp said...

Yeah, *right*, Jon.

Judge Jon Peacey has a suspiciously good ring to it. ;-D

Piers said...

It raises some questions which I feel are very relevant to the debate in hand. To wit:

Does Valerie Solanis have the right to create the SCUM manifesto?

Does Valerie Solanis have the right to publish the SCUM manifesto where others can read it?

Does reading the SCUM manifesto make you a misandrist?

Does enjoying the SCUM manifesto, or feeling that it has interesting and/or useful things to say about the state of humanity make you a misandrist?

And finally, who, if anyone, should be condemned: The writer of the manifesto, the reader of the manifesto, neither, or both?

Lucy said...

We already know there is an opposite end to any scale. Just as there is love/hate, black/white, hot/cold, right/left, liberals/fascists, philosophical/non-philosophical, there is misogyny/misandryism.

I would posit instead:

Because there is misandryism, does this counteract misogyny and make it "okay" or at least "neutral"?

Neither is okay in my view. Nothing counterbalances prejudice as far as I'm concerned - whether it's against men, women or anything else. Prejudice sucks whomever and/or whatever it's against.

John Stuart Mill said, "I detest what you say, I defend to the death your right to say it." I believe in free speech... But I would not go as far as JS Mill.

Piers said...

Prejudice sucks indeed - but I'm with Mill on this one.

Lucy said...

Yes, but it isn't it easy to side with Mill when you're white and male? Not to say you haven't faced prejudice Piers at some point, I'm sure you have, but society does not feed implicit messages into its mores and values as standard about fellas like it does women. Or indeed any other group not "in charge" or part of the majority.

Another great philosopher said, "He won the lottery... By being born."
Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam - White Male American. Two outta three ain't bad, huh? ; )

James Moran said...

Not sure which comments are aimed at me, but just in case: I'm not defending Wolf Creek against misogynist charges, I was responding to the question of why it was made, what was the point - and the point was to scare, whether it succeeded or not. It is a badly flawed film, in many ways. And I'm quite happy for anyone to criticise it. Skipped Teeth cause it didn't sound good, but I went and had some nice food instead so I probably got the better deal there.

As for Hostel, you're really not supposed to enjoy the torture, nor is it directed at women (in the first one, anyway). The whole build up is supposed to make you dread the final result, look what's going to happen, it says, unless they get away. When it happens, there's a release, and then the torture part takes over - you're not supposed to enjoy it, it's more of an endurance test. Can you sit through the gore - it's just an extension of the 50s style advertising, "dare you watch the terrifying spectacle" etc etc. You're not supposed to be cheering when the victims get it, you want them to get away, you hope it stops soon. You can laugh at the gore the moment it arrives, because it's so extreme, and it's a release mechanism, because you're wincing at the nastiness of it at the same time. But you're only supposed to cheer when (spoilers! big spoilers for Hostel!) the intended victim finally gets away and wreaks vengeance on his former captors. Still haven't seen part 2 though, which I understand is a whole different kettle of fish.

Jason Arnopp said...

Has anyone directly called Wolf Creek misogynist yet? I thought the charges against it were restricted to 'unpleasant', 'exploitative' and 'pointless', thus far... :-)

I still think that to brand a film misogynist is presumptuous at best, and downright insulting at worst - unless you've personally sat at a bar table with the writer/director, perhaps, and heard him call all women "bitches" and declare that, "Their place is in the home" or some such nonsense.

And even then, I'd hesitate to call their actual FILM misogynist. To me, it's only one step away from calling, say, a chair misogynist. What does it actually mean? This film hates women? How do you KNOW?

Horror films, at their base level, are chock-full of fictional prejudice. After all, they're generally about people who want to visit extreme harm upon other people! Whether the wronged folk are white, black, male or female, etc, is utterly irrelevant, and in my view, there really shouldn't be so much read into it.

Unless, of course, you're a white male, in which case you just don't understand. ;-) Kidding, Luce! Kinda... Please, put the pinking shears away...

Lucy said...

Jason - you are so simplistic, I might kill you myself. And film it. And distribute it on the internet. Only then will you understand my friend!!!

James - dunno bowt others, I wasn't levvying anything "against" you, though I do disagree that you're not meant to enjoy extended horror films - for me it's not an endurance test but the visual equivalent of children burning ants with the magnifying glass. You are in control (since you have the remote). These girls are in your power (you can turn it off).

Jason Arnopp said...

Lucy, sometimes things really are just simple. And once you surrender yourself to that fact, life can actually be more fun.

Was that annoying enough? I'm looking forward to starring in Arnopp Apocalypse III: He Was Asking For It.

I'm going to stop posting on this undeniably fascinating thread now - and not just because you've descended into madness about remote controls. See, it's not as if the people on either side of the fence are about to say, "Sweet Jesus Christ, I was wrong all along! I'd best back down and change the entire way in which I see movies, life, gender politics and everything..."

Jon Peacey said...

"I detest what you say, I defend to the death your right to say it."
I would disagree with Mills too. The danger comes when that protection is given to those who would seek to remove that very freedom which protects their words. We would like to pretend that this can’t happen now but all too recent history should teach us otherwise.

A decade or so ago Algeria had a fledgling democracy then the people voted in an extreme Islamist party whose first desire was to remove democracy. The army overthrew the elected Government to protect democracy and, after a while, instigated new elections (see also Egypt and Turkey).

Freedom of speech must surely be defended only up to the point that it’s continuance would not endanger another’s rights or freedoms. I believe in free speech to that extant: then, of course, you have the problem of working out what constitutes harm and what causes it.

(By the way, I think the quote may have been Voltaire.)

Extremists at each end of the scale usually end up mirroring each other such that you can look from one to the other and back and not see the difference.

“…society does not feed implicit messages into its mores and values as standard about fellas like it does women.”

My experience has tended to teach me otherwise and I think there are some pretty clear notions of what constitutes a male. I went to an all male Grammar school with a long and great tradition of sporting excellence and military service: I liked books, music, art and hated sport, was scrawny, thought sideways, had the ‘local accent’ and came from a not so rich background. I got bullied solidly for 7 years because I didn’t fit the standard male stereotype. Masculinity is still defiantly measured for men and more than adequately backed up on the pages of Loaded and Front. However, I was lucky: there were a couple of kids in my year who were smaller and weaker than me…

It is not enough to be white and male: you have to be well-off and have the ‘right’ background. But, yes, women, non-whites, etc. have had it far worse than my troubles.

“The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.” JS Mill.

Jon Peacey said...

A film, in itself, cannot be misogynist any more than the paper Mein Kampf is printed on can be called racist. The implications (message) of the work, on the other hand, can be. As can the effect. If a film is no more than the sum of its physical being then there can be no such thing as intellectual property rights!

I was at a screening of Natural Born Killers where the audience were urging Mickey and Mallory to ‘kill the bitch’ (as a couple of people near me were chanting). When they let some people go, there was an audible majority disappointment. Ten years later watching The Football Factory was even worse: the audience reaction was disturbing and palpably intimidating given the continual exhortations to ‘kill the *various racist epithets*’ and ‘slice his fucking face off’ and so on. I find it very hard to believe that these audiences were not being affected. They may have arrived with prejudices and hatreds but should they have been reinforced and pandered to so clearly?

Lucy said...

Jason, *nothing* in life is simple, there are multiple hues of varying colours, not even all grey. It's teens that see everything in black and white! ;P As for saying that you might as well not bother 'cos people will think what they think anyway... Well thank Christ Nelson Mandela, Emily Pankhurst, Martin Luther King, Ghandi et al didn't think that!!!!

Jon - dunno about Voltaire, never read his stuff, but Mills' work ON LIBERTY is a fascinating account of, amongst others, the implications of free speech. Sadly I feel too many people live in what he calls The Vale of Ignorance. Still, onwards...

Jason Arnopp said...

Oooh, Luce, look what you've done. You've brought me back, by saying something exasperating! :)

I somehow don't think my half-hearted mission to stop people taking horror quite so darn seriously is quite comparable to the shall-we-say *broader* objectives of Luther King, Pankhurst and Ghandhi, et al. :)

And besides, I have to stop debating you on this inflammatory topic, for the sake of our blog-marriage, which means a lot to me. I want us to at least reach our first anniversary... x

Jon Peacey said...

They may well have both said it: philosophers (like politicians) have a rapacious tendency to purloin phrases from each other.

Voltaire's quote was "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

I do sometimes wonder if these phrases would have ever been coined had Mills, Voltaire et al. had access to the internet!

Lucy said...

JON - I don't doubt it.

Jason - I'm not being inflammatory, I really would sooner DIE than abandon my principles... Within reason of course, like all people. Whilst I can die quite happily, I would no sooner sacrifice my children for my principles than I would cut off my own hand. For them, I would live in The Vale of Ignorance. But you know I love horror. LOVE IT. I write it FFS. But to say that people will "do what they do"? Cop out as far as I'm concerned!!!

We must go to marriage guidance my friend. It's the only way to make our blog lurve SURVIVE.

Jon Peacey said...

Mr Arnopp you must stick around: Judge Jon Peacey has spoken!

But if you fail to catch me here, I'm available at 9pm on the Beeb played by Martin Shaw.

Jason Arnopp said...

I didn't say that *you* were being inflammatory or indeed that people will "do what they do". But writers should write what they like, without fear of being lambasted by accusations of having produced a film which hates women, doesn't feature enough positive roles for Hungarians and/or will cut the tails off puppies and sell them to Nazis.

I'm not sure what the cyber equivalent of marriage guidance is. But I'm willing to go through with it if you are, darling one.

Lucy said...

"Darling one"???

That's it.

I need a blog divorce!

Jason Arnopp said...

Fine by me. You wanted Oli in the first place, anyway, before he so cruelly spurned you.

*Flounces off to write Hostel 4* :)

Jon Peacey said...

Writers should write what they like free from accusations of whatever but if they say the same thing often enough people might just suspect they actually believe it. And people might just start to believe in it. There must be some mediation at some point (even if it's not at the writerly bit).

Is that getting too serious again?

Do you need a presiding Judge for this blog-divorce? I charge reasonable rates to favour the 'right' side.

Jason Arnopp said...

Oh, but Judge Peacey, I don't know if blog-divorce is what I really want.

If only I'd just agreed with Lucy a little more. Indulged her babblings about remote controls and the Vale Of Ignorance... *sobs*

Jon Peacey said...

Ah, it all comes down to who gets possession of the remote control in the end...

Oli said...

Sorry to keep this thread going (it'd be nice to get it to 100 posts, though, wouldn't it?)

I was talking to my brother about this comments thread, and how it'd eventually got to be about the recent proliferation of misogyny in horror. He raised an eyebrow, and said "Recent?"

He's got a point. Horror films have been morally questionable in one form or another - black guy gets killed first, women take much longer to die than men so the film can drag it out - for a long, long time. But it's never really bothered me until now, and my view was much the same as Jason's - I haven't watched I Spit on Your Grave, but I defend its right to be made.

Which does make me wonder what separates the new wave of horror films from the old school. My brother reckons it's eighties fashion; no one thought Friday the 13th had any agenda because Kevin Bacon was wearing hotpants.

Oli said...

Sorry, to amend my previous comment, pulp horror films have been morally questionable for a long time.

Many very good horror films sidestep this altogether, even when they feature some of the same elements, and I think it's a matter of perspective:

Rosemary's baby doesn't (in my view) have a misogynist agenda despite featuring a rape and a superficially conservative ending. The 'mother stays at home' ending is the final scare.

Similarly, I don't think of the Shining as racist because the first character to die was black. That character was played sympathetically, and when he dies it's not only scary but sad. It's an 'Oh no!' moment.

English Dave said...

w''Which does make me wonder what separates the new wave of horror films from the old school.''

I think it's the graphic violence Oli. I thought SAW was ok for what it was. But why would I want to see Saw 3?

Or Hostel 2. Been there done that.

Nothing to see here except the diminishing cash register returns of the aesthetically bankrupt.