Selah March

March 28, 2007

There She Goes Again

Filed under: Uncategorized — Selah March @ 7:30 am

Today, for a change of pace, I’m going to be political. I see you there, rolling your eyes. Cut that shit out. This is important. You might even find yourself agreeing with lil’ ole bleeding-heart-liberal me. And if you don’t, I’m happy to listen to a different point of view on the subject.

This is the thing: I’ve read and listened to the discussion and debate about why the new spate of movies like HOSTEL, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, and the SAW series — otherwise known as “torture porn” — are an important comment on the level of inhumanity in our society. About how they’re a satirical swipe at our violence-obsessed culture. How they’re a commentary on the excesses of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo, and an indictment of our willingness, as a country, to apply electrodes to testicles first and ask questions later. (All while The Powers That Be insist that we’re a Christian nation chock-full of life-affirming values, of course. But I digress. Except, not really.)

I’ve been skeptical. Mostly because I have a sinking suspicion that most of the folks reveling in these kinds of films aren’t reading the same articles I am. I’m afraid they’re mostly doing it because it’s fun to watch some chick in shorts and a wife-beater be forced to jump into a pit full of dirty hypodermic needles as part of a life-or-death game.

Okay, fine. The members of that particular audience are wired a little differently from me, but I can respect their movie-going preferences on a “live and let live” level. I’m the last person to suggest that because I find a piece of art offensive, it shouldn’t exist. Live free or die, baby, and that includes free expression.

And in the interest of full disclosure and because I try very hard not to be a stinkin’ hypocrite, I should mention that I’m currently finishing a novella that features torture fairly prominently as a plot point. Most of it happens “off-stage” and by implication, but not all. So, clearly, I’m not against torture as a theme or a plot device. I just have no desire to experience it in Technicolor and Surroundsound, and your mileage may vary.

BUT — and you knew that was coming, because you’re smarter than the average bear — I think there’s a limit to what constitutes reasonable “free expression” in a public place. You don’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre. We no longer allow cigarette companies to advertise on TV in order to protect our children from an addiction that killed 435,000 people nationally in the year 2000. And chances are excellent you won’t see a bigger-than-life billboard any time soon for the new disposable, vibrating cock ring invented by Trojan to complement their line of safe-sex products.

Yet the company that’s producing the upcoming release CAPTIVITY — a film in the SAW/HOSTEL/HILLS HAVE EYES sub-genre — has a new ad campaign. Go and read about it here, and read about one woman’s counter-campaign. Read about the MPAA’s reaction and how it plans to handle the situation. Also read BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER/ANGEL: THE SERIES/FIREFLY/SERENITY creator Joss Whedon’s letter in support of this counter-campaign.

There are those who’ll say these folks are blowing this out of proportion. That they’re impinging on the First Amendment. That they’re making it possible for the neo-fascist elements behind the current administration (whoops, wasn’t gonna go there, too late now, better luck next time) to use this as an excuse to put the screws to the film industry as a whole.

I say bullshit. I say a society that can’t police itself with honest dissent against something it finds reprehensible isn’t free in the first place. I say the neo-fascists LIKE this shit, because it desensitizes the public to torture, misogyny and general inhumanity, which is exactly where we need to be in order for them to take over. *adjusts tinfoil hat to jaunty angle*

Furthermore? Until the MPAA is willing to allow the graphic depiction of a young woman in the throes of ecstasy from the peak sexual experience of her lifetime to be presented as a movie advertisement visible from the child safety-seat in the back of your minivan, it has a responsibility to make sure that the graphic depiction of the capture, imprisonment, torture and murder of a young woman is likewise not coming to a billboard near you.

Because I think the MPAA should try at least as hard as I do not to be a stinkin’ hypocrite. – Romance of Dubious Virtue


  1. Wow. I had NO idea this was going on.

    Comment by Hannah — March 28, 2007 @ 9:56 am | Reply

  2. OK, both those were me. Sorry.

    Comment by Eva Gale — March 28, 2007 @ 9:59 am | Reply

  3. torture porn — hits it on the head … i’ve had a problem putting my finger on what bothers me about a lot of these movies. I like horror, I like sex, I sometimes like watching, reading or writing, a combination of the two — it depends — but the Devil’s Reject, for example, I found a complete turn-off and couldn’t get past the first 15 minutes or so. Hostel was a will not watch because the ads were essentially saying “come see just how far we’re willing to go”.

    Great post, Selah!

    Comment by Ann Vremont — March 28, 2007 @ 1:07 pm | Reply

  4. Ann – exactly on the ads for Hostel. “Come watch torture for the sake of torture, no plot required, and see how hard an R rating can get before it tips over into NC-17.”

    Didn’t the Romans indulge in much the same form of entertainment right before the fall of the empire?

    Eva, it’s okay. I know you’re up to your lovely eyebrows in Steampunky smut. :p

    Comment by Selah March — March 28, 2007 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  5. *snerk* yeah, OK. That MUST be it. Or, it could be that I’m just a bit stunad today.

    Comment by Eva Gale — March 28, 2007 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  6. Here via Eva Gale’s blog who visits us at The Spcied Tea Party, where we’re not shy about sex either.

    Anyway, I looked at the billboard. How on earth are you able to tell who it is? I guess someone must’ve looked up the cast listing and made an educated guess.

    I can’t believe they put that billboard within sight of schools…

    But the real reason I’m here is — how do you make your links go all sparkly when I mouse over them?

    Comment by Celia May Hart — March 30, 2007 @ 12:33 am | Reply

  7. Heh. I have no idea how to make the links sparkly, Celia. Someone else designed this blog nearly two years ago, but she’s out of the business now. I imagine it’s a line of code in the template somewhere, but I wouldn’t know where to start to look.

    I’ve contracted with another designer to move this blog and the rest of my site to WordPress sometime in the next few months, so I think the sparklies might be going bye-bye. I do love them, though. 🙂

    Comment by Selah March — March 30, 2007 @ 6:48 am | Reply

  8. Joss Whedon is a god walking amongst us. LOVE that man.

    Comment by Zeek — March 30, 2007 @ 12:28 pm | Reply

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