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Movie Violence

March 10, 2007

As someone who has studied martial arts for more than five years, I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about – and practicing – some pretty violent things. You might think it odd, therefore, that I’ve so profoundly lost my taste for movie violence, but I definitely have.

I rented a horror movie called Wolf Creek, for example, and I had to get up and turn it off. It had simply ceased to be entertainment, unless the entertainment was supposed to be observing one’s own sickened reaction as the line delineating good taste disappeared rapidly in the films rearview mirror. It reminded me somewhat of watching Hanibal years ago. It wasn’t so much the graphic nature of what I was seeing, but rather the ideas represented.

On the other hand, I recognize The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and all of George Romero’s zombie movies as classics. Did I change or did movies change? I think they did, but I’m not sure. The only horror movies I can really enjoy these days are ones like The Ring: they scare the bejebers out of me, but I do not leave feeling exploited.

This newfound discovery about me and movie violence has left me a little gun shy. Should I go see 300? Should I see Zodiac? Hm. Maybe I should go for Pan’s Labyrinth instead.

It could be that the appreciation of certain types of movie violence simply drains out of a person at a certain age. Kind of like heavy metal music: I’m just not angry enough anymore to stand where it stands emotionally. And that’s no bad thing. It could be that whatever psychological catharsis one gets from movie violence is decreasingly necessary as one matures; maybe I’ve just outgrown the need for it.

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  1. I am a huge wimp when it comes to movie violence, and especially torture. (Nobody warned me about Syriana; thank goodness I had it on DVD and could fast forward past that.) Having said that, I highly recommend Pan’s Labyrinth, even though there is indeed at least one hide-behind-your-hands scene.


  2. Pan’s Labyrinth is quite violent. I’d say there are several hide-behind your hands scenes. I’m not even sure I’d say it’s less violent than 300. But it’s the better kind of violence in that it’s more realistic.


  3. Most of what passes for horror movies is really finding more creative and repulsively violent ways to kill characters. I’m not sure when that started.

    Contrast that, say, with the original Psycho. Now that was real terror.



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