RARA-AVIS: Torture Porn

From: Nathan Cain ( IndieCrime@gmail.com)
Date: 30 Jun 2007

Wouldn't you know it, I turn my back for a minute, and somebody posts something interesting. Kevin Burton Smith's recent comments on Neo-Noir, seem to have sparked some interesting comments, and I'll throw in my two cents.

It's all about context. In movies there has been an upsurge in the popularity of "Torture Porn," over the last few years. Movies like Hostel and Saw have shown people suffering at the hands of sadists to provide the audience with vicarious thrills and little else. I was worried, quite frankly that Allan Guthrie's latest novel was going to end up being the same sort of thing. While the violence in Hard Man was, I think, way over the top, the book didn't end up being a print version of Hostel. Guthrie's crazy character, Wallace, had a motive for what he was doing beyond mere sadism, although his actions were sadistic. (I think Wallace's motivations could have been explained a little better, but that's beside the point.)
 Charlie Huston's Been Caught Stealing has also been mentioned. It does have a pretty ugly scene near the beginning, but the actions are entirely in character for the bad guys, and the scene also helps to show how Hank Thompson ends up on the road to becoming the sort of person he turns into. So, the violence has a purpose. It moves the story along, and has consequences. It doesn't then fall to the level of torture porn.
   The problem often isn't violence, it's the lack of story or engaging (though not necessarily likeable) characters that make violence seem unseemly, at least to me.

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