Re: glorifying violence (was Re: RARA-AVIS: Elmore Leonard)

From: Gerald W Page (
Date: 22 Jul 2008

  • Next message: Stephen Burridge: "Re: glorifying violence (was Re: RARA-AVIS: Elmore Leonard)"

    This is a difficult topic to pin down for a number of reasons, one of which is obvious from the postings we've seen on it. Everyone has different ideas, reactions and responses regarding it.

    Another is that only a proportion of filmmakers who make excessively violent films -- and it might not be a very large proportion -- have anything to contribute on the subject. A big reason such films are made is that they sell tickets and DVDs. Does anyone really think anything as vapid and nihilistic as most slasher films are could get made if a profit wasn't almost guaranteed? And a lot of films are made these days because the filmmakers know more about special effects or make-up than they ever will about story or character. If it's possible to blow a hole through someone in a film and then shoot the face of the killer through it, what director fresh out of film school can resist that?

    And maybe, to find answers to the questions we're raising, we should be paying as much attention to the audiences as the auteurs.

    A few -- well, more than a few -- years ago I decided to write a horror story from the viewpoint of a completely despicable character -- a man who callously murdered, tortured and so on to achieve his own aims. When I was finished with it, I found myself drained emotionally. I haven't tried that again, and I don't have a particular desire to try it again. But if I did, I would do it the second time with more thought, and more care, and I would be very, very cautious. It isn't just that these monsters are out there -- these monsters are in us, all of us, as well.

    That's why it's important to write about them.

    The best writers who have explored violence -- writers like Jim Thompson and Joseph Wambaugh -- have staunchly explored the emotional and psychological impact of violence. They have shown the effect of it less on the victims than on the perpetrators and (certainly in Wambaugh's case) those who are charged with dealing with such violence. Though the problem of violence doesn't seem to have been lessened by their efforts, it is possible because of them to understand it better.

    And understanding -- for themselves and their readers -- is why good writers write.

    Sorry this is so pretentious. But I'm just not a good enough writer to say it any better.

    Jerry Page

    ----- Original Message ----- From: Stephen Burridge To: Sent: Tuesday, July 22, 2008 8:15 AM Subject: Re: glorifying violence (was Re: RARA-AVIS: Elmore Leonard)

    I think lots of action movies "glorify" or perhaps more accurately glamourize violence, by making it look interesting, even fun, and by showing cool, good-looking movie stars engaging in it.

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