Monday, July 14, 2008

enough, already


I am thoroughly sick of flicking though the channels on tv, to be accosted again and again with dramatic images of murder, torture and violence. In the cinema too - choosing what you want to see isn't enough, you're still bombarded with graphic trailers, sometimes even ads, while you're held captive in your seat, assaulted by sound and sight. I'm sick of it.


I'm sitting here tonight, finding something to watch, and every second station is playing some variation of CSI or some other completely graphic film, so we have to see gore, death and serial murder, and all the emotions of terror and misery that go with it. There seems to be a rash of torture movies out at the moment, so you get hit with hideous, manipulative, worst nightmare scenes with the flick of a remote - it's fine to advertise with a shot of a terrified human covered in blood and screaming in terror, yeah, that's grand, it won't affect the kids as long as they don't witness any actual violence. Bullshit.


And why is this waste material so popular, so prevalent, that it's being churned out in such quantity? People making their money out of images of blood, guts, terror - so the consumer can go, 'ah, that's gross, that's deadly'. If you're one of those people, shame on you. At best, it may give you a thrill, but what does that say about humanity? Sure, we've always done it, sure Roman circuses, blah blah. Can anyone really argue for the good of that? And anyway, I think this is just cynical money making strategy everyone's buying into.


I don't need this shit in my head. If you think you're unaffected by it, think again. If it's all in your head but you've normalised it into something acceptable, well, rather you than me. I don't need it, I don't want it, and I deeply resent being bombarded with it in my sitting room!


Gah! I'm disgusted.

33 comments:

Nick McGivney said...

Unplug. The thing is dying anyway. TV euthanasia is the only decent option anymore. Bruce sang about 57 channels and nothing on: now it's 1,057 and just screaming harpies baring their effervescent souls for fifteen seconds of fame. Unplug. We'll figger out how we tackle the TV licence guys together.

K8 the Gr8 said...

It's because it lets our adrenaline levels kick in like we're really there, it gives us a taste of what the ultimate challenge looks like. The fact that we can look at these horrible situations and let go of them is healthy. To watch Saw III and laugh because it's all just ketchup and fancy acting is healthy. Nick's right. Let go. Unplug.

jothemama said...

I know that's the argument, ketchup, it's not real - but if it's not real, what's the point? What's the point in spending milions on ways to track the passage of bullets through flesh get the spurting blood just right, create exactly the right conditions for tension and horror?

For me, the whole point of tv is suspension of disbelief - it works because you believe it's real, or at least you buy into the scene, while you watch it. OTherwise, what's the point? And if you can still accept that it's not real, but you get a rush from it, what's the difference? Your body and brain are reacting as if it is.

And what's healthy about that sort of adrenaline rush? How is it good for you? Surely acceptance of that sort of violence normalises it in real life too? Look at Jack Bauer with 24s pro torture stance, and the US' acceptance of Bush's pro torture policies. It might be happening to real people far away, but it's as unreal as the people on the sceen.

As for turning it off, well maybe. But I really like tv. I like the comedy, the drama, I like film. I like the information. It's the intrusion and lack of choice I resent.

Nick McGivney said...

Basically I suppose I agree with you. I've been inured to the overcooked violence down the years. Tom and Jerry-level violence doesn't actually happen in kids' cartoons any more, had you noticed? It's been ramped up considerably on teenagers' intake however, and don't even get me started on the irresponsibility of the Grand Theft Auto designers. I think that probably, as ever it was and will be, the answer to the global issues happens at a personal level. Live your life the way you want it to be in as much as you can. It acts as an inspiration to others. I'm already heartened by your rant about TV. Honestly. I'm actively thinking about it more right now, rather than just not watching it. Also, technology will probably start to assist you now if you really want to zonk out in front of the tube. Sky Digital allows you to be much more choosy and programm-y about your personal viewing schedule, doesn't it? (Does it? I dunno much about these things really.) Either way, at least you're not being a couch potato about it. Where's the popcorn?

jothemama said...

Yeah, I think we all accept a lot more than we might otherwise because it's being fed to us through the screen and we're passive recipients.

Me included. Part of it's laziness, part of it's a feeling of uncoolness, I think, hokey as that sounds. It's really sold to us, and people buy into it, everything from advertising to slasher horror. Even if we argue with it, we stll sit and absorb.

I think the biggest casualties are the kids. I let my kids watch FAR more tv than I ever should, it's one of my greater parental failings. When we got sattellite it was great as my daughter stopped watching all the fighty 8 year old stuff and watches the far more innocuous Disney Playhouse. I know it's Disney, but there's no princesses and no violence - and there's Bunnytown! :)

Thriftcriminal said...

I agree, I have no time for the recent slew of "horror" movies like the various Saw flicks or their ilk. Now I did enjoy 28 days later, but that's less gore, it's scare the shit out of you stuff mixed in with a bit of lord of the flies. But gore for the sake of gore? No. Do ot want. I enjoyed Braindead and the Evil Dead movies because of their humour and essential crapness. I guess I just like either a good old fashioned zombie flick or a more B movie horror that takes the piss out of itself at heart.

morgor said...

I guess its about testing the boundaries of what we can watch.

I don't really watch much TV, too many ads and too much chaff.

If I do watch it, it's usually the discovery channel or paramount.

Nick, for the record, Grand Theft Auto is an excellent game and it's designed for over 18's not kids.

The percentage of people who chose Video Games as their entertainment rather than films or tv is growing, older people don't seem to realise that some games are very adult indeed.

jothemama said...

Ok, so give me some arguments - how is Grand Theft Auto positive for adults - points for random shootings and hit and runs?

Especially as it WILL of course get into the hands of kids, they always do - and it won't be the together, monitored kids from stable backgrounds, it'll more likely be the little scummer kids who have far more chance of actually emulating it in their lifestyles, with no guidance as to the fact that it's fantasy, not real life.

Lottie said...

I used to be a horror-whore once upon a time. I loved scary gruesome movies and all that terror.

Maybe it's my old age - but the two films that turned me off this kind of viewing were the Ring (scared the bejeesus out of me) and Saw.

I finally went back to watching the more teeny bop horror a few years ago and can handle that now but I watched (albeit through my jumper) Saw 3 last year and it totally did me in.

I just can't stand torture movies. Is there any need for them. They just give sickos ideas. My problem is that I worry these things will happen to people I care about. While "taking a phone call" (aka avoiding a particularly nasty scene) in Saw 3 a full grown man ran out of the cinema and threw up. It's just too much.

jothemama said...

See, I'd see that as an ordeal, not entertainment.

I agree about friends - since having children especially, I tend ot see everyone as someone's child. I did used ot love Patricia Cornwell, but I've lost the stomach for that too.

Lottie said...

@Jo - I haven't become that delicate just yet and still love a good crime novel. However, I can certainly see where you are coming from.

morgor said...

Ok, so give me some arguments - how is Grand Theft Auto positive for adults - points for random shootings and hit and runs?

Hey, i never said it was good for anyone, i just said it was fun.

But if pressed perhaps I could think of something.

It's good for your reflexes and your brain. Lots of puzzles shooting flying chasing racing and fighting.

Interesting storylines with developing characters and attractive scenery.

Satisfying explosive gameplay, lots of customisable bits and bobs from your car to your character.

Darragh said...

I can't add too much constructive to this discussion, save that I gave up watching TV and DVDs for the most part to enjoy books instead, and now I read voraciously.

I'm drawn back though - I'm partial to the "non-thinking" ones, like Britain's Got Talent or the Top 50 ever... However I must confess a liking for series like 24, Heroes, Lost and House, which is explicit enough (injections into eyeballs) but all in the name of medicine, don't cha know!

The answer to your question about "why is this waste material so popular, so prevalent, that it's being churned out in such quantity?"

Lowest common denominator unfortunately!

jothemama said...

Oo, House, that's what it was - we flicked across the eyeball, and turned off, rapidly!

I don't know about the lowest common denominator though. I know a lot of intelligent, cultured people who would argue for the worth of violent entertainment - maybe not Saw, certainly anything mafioso...

Tinman18 said...

It's the mafia stuff that really annoys me - make a film or TV series about the mafia, and it's automatically brilliant. Why did everyone think the Sopranos was so brill? Killers with a heart of gold? If they re-made the series word for word but set it in Belfast with Tony as a member of the UVF, would it have been as popular?

And Goodfellas - Jesus, I've never been as bored in my life. When the Joe Pesci character got bumped off they played this really dramatic music and I realised we were meant to be sorry this lunatic was dead.

jothemama said...

I must agree, Tinman. Hey, where've you been?

Tinman18 said...

Sorry, just really, really busy at work coz I'm off to France on Friday. I look in at Twenty's site about twice a day & then think, no, don't have time...

jothemama said...

Good man, stay strong, keep your resolve harndened! And have a great holiday :)

Rechru said...

Thanks for this post Jo. It has been refreshing for me to see that someone else feels as strongly about this as I do. I don't want it either. Any sort of violence on the telly makes me feel ill. I'm considered a wimp but I don't know why I SHOULD endure it!

morgor said...

yeah i wasn't that impressed by the sopranos.

The thing that struck me was how stupid every character in it was.

Nick McGivney said...

I'm accepting now that I can legitimately say 'When I was young it was different' etc, but I try to be economical with it.
What I do see is slippage. Slippage in how acceptable it is to call someone a bitch without analysing the perjorative aspect of the word. It's irrelevant if you the user are using it in a chummy, ironic or post-ironic fashion. It still contributes to the slippage. And when my upstanding neighbour's upstanding eight year old gets his PS3 and a free copy of GTA4, the content of that game contributes to slippage in the formation of his mind, morals and expectations of those around him. I'm not on a pedestal here, Morgor. I'm simply observing. No, he shouldn't have it as an eight year old, yes it is beautifully designed and yes of course the designers are responsible people observing every legal aspect correctly as they do their highly skilled jobs. But when the anti-hero controls are put in the hands of formative-years youngsters, slippage is what happens. Unfortunately the rate of acceleration of tech change is ever-increasing, and the younger generation is the one that's ahead of the bell curve. Me and my lot? We're grappling with the fucking microwave controls. But like it or not, me and my lot are the ones with the guardianship duties, and I'm baffled as to how to proceed. Increasingly baffled.

Dr. James McInerney said...

I thought it was just me.

What is really getting me is that i channel surf and one after another they just jangle my nerves.

i am now mostly just watching the news and slapstick comedy.

jothemama said...

Hi Dr James :)

We should be allowed to channel surf in safety, shouldn't we? Without fear of sudden ick? It's so hazardous as well, with kids around - what passes the censor for advertising amazes me.

morgor said...

Any of you ever look at the MTV channels. Most videos are just soft porn nowadays.

Soft porn for kids.

jothemama said...

True! All that ass wiggling.

This generation will think dancing is all just pelvis pumping.

Lottie said...

Mmmm - soft porn! ;)

PĂ©itseoga said...

i hate 'criminal minds' it really freaks me out

Darren said...

Crap! I know I'm going to regret giving my two pence worth on this issue.

I love TV. I love movies. I love the theatre and I love books and music too. I am an entertainment fanatic.

When it comes to films, I like all genres. I am happy to embrace comedy, drama, musical, crime, mystery, film noir and, yes, horror. I watch mysteries for the suspence, I watch action blockbusters for the sheer fun factor, I watch comedies to have a good laugh. So, is it so wrong that I watch horror to be thrilled, to feel some 'safe fear'. The adrenalin flows and it's hilarious to look back at my reactions to a piece of celluloid. No other genre (save a really good musical) can instill such emotive responses in me. Is that wrong?

When I was younger I was exposed to horror at an early age and while Psycho once terrified me, I now appreciate it as a masterpiece in suspense. Where I was once frightened by Chucky, I now look back and see it as a comedy.

Today's horrors are really pushing the boundaries - the torture/horror movies such as Saw and Hostel are creating a genre all of their own. I'll admit to watching Saw 4 through my fingers, cringing at the bone crunching and hiding my head during the autopsy, but as soon as it was over I wanted to watch it again. It's escapist fun and nothing more and I do believe that these movies will be seen as classics in their field in years to come.

As I said above, I watch every genre - it's those people who watch these movies and ONLY these movies that have problems, but I suspect those problems would exist with or without Saw.

"...so the consumer can go, 'ah, that's gross, that's deadly'. If you're one of those people, shame on you."

I'm that guy. So, shame on me? I'm a grown adult and I enjoy a bit of gore. I do not feel ashamed and I am quite proud of my movie experience - I'd consider myself a decent critic on all genres. Perhaps film producers, distributors and advertisers should be somewhat more responsible when it comes to how they market their movies. Many of them are obviously geared at kids. But equally, should you not adjust your opinion slightly to take into account people like me - well adjusted, entertainment buffs who enjoy the silly thrills these movies can provide.

(Awaits onslaught)

Lottie said...

@Darrren - "(Awaits onslaught) " Your phrase of the day?

Darren said...

@Lottie Maybe! I'm generally try to avoid confrontation and yet today I've written a few replies that seem to go against everyone else.

jothemama said...

No onslaught, Darren, your point is well argued, and I take it!

I can't really feel it though. The escapist thing. For me good film is about having a reaction based on the fact that you accept the story, you accept the action as real. So the if the images make me believe them, they're real... and I don't want to derive enjoyment from someone being held down and having thier fingers cut off, and screaming, or whatever. I just feel like it's all based on some reality, and that's the horror I imagine. Plus, the stuff sticks with me...

Ach, I shouldn't be telling anyone to be ashamed, that's a bit too 'think of the children', sorry. And I do undestand the whole thrill of the horror genre.

I just think these films are so dehumanising, I don't want them to be acceptable entertainment. I don't like the way people are reduced to meat so we can oo and ah. If it gave me a thrill instead of making me want to cry and puke, I suppose I'd be able to process it better!

I"m no saying there should be no CSI or anything either, I just don't like the way that's all there seems to be...

morgor said...

this might be a bit of a longshot and it only occured to be now but i'll give it a shot . . . .

perhaps horror films are also good for immunising or preparing people for fear.

If you've seen all these terrible things in films then when you wouldn't be frozen and unable to react if something like that happened in real life.

Maybe.

or maybe they'll just drive your imagination to fear things they don't need to . . . hmmm

jothemama said...

Well, they might prepare us not to buy the creepy house, or if you're the only black/fat guy or woman to run away instead of investigating...

We've always had horror, from German fairy tales onwards. People need to process their fears, alright. But, in terms of the glut of torture horror serial killer stuff, I think it's the latter concept. I think it has created a new worst fear scenario alright. And then it exploits that. I just think it's a cheap way of producing a reaction. Knee-jerk enotional stimulation - abduction, torture basements, looneys, children, helplessness, desperation... any of us could write it in a second. If we chose to.