--- In email@example.com, Kevin Burton Smith <kvnsmith@...> wrote:
> Oh, you old farts! Tip your hat to the new noir revolution, and smile
> and grin at the change all around. The less empathy for actual human
> beings, the better.
> Yeah, right....
> Actually, I think this is the great divide between classic noir lit
> (and film) and neo-noir or or whatever it's called this week.
> When we stopped getting drawn into the protagonists' plights and
> realized only a falling beam separated them from us and started
> putting ourselves above these characters, laughing at how much they
> were being hurt and fucked.
> It used to be more about the human condition; now it's too often the
> equivalent of kids poking a dead dog with a stick behind the
> schoolyard to see the maggots dance. The humour isn't so much black as
> just mean.It used to be we were supposed to feel for the dog; now
> we're supposed to laugh like the kids.
> Anyway, in this case, I think Fred (whose COCAINE & BLUE EYES
> definitely falls into the classic category) was more bemused by the
> windbag politico's comments than by people actually being hurt. At
> least I hope so.
People have become progressively more scared (of _everything_). The nervous laughter and the sneering can be seen as cruel, but they are a sign of weakness. Probably comes from growing up with a false idea that certain things are assured, that there is any kind of certainty. As to portraying cruelty, I think nobody cares about cruelty unless the person suffering it is someone close to them (or themselves). Even whole classes of people have been considered non-persons and subject to tremendous cruelty, unremarkably so for those outside those classes.
So what is new, Kevin? When was this compassionate time that you long for? Even in fiction, if you read Hammett, there wasn't much compassion to be found. Dickens? You could go further and further back and what you find, in any novel that tries to portray street reality, is people trying to hurt and destroy other people. Since violence has gone down steadily for several centuries, it's easy to forget what things were like. But they are documented.
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