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  • theaptPORTFOLIO

    theaptSHOWS

    January 14, 2013

    oped-new7

    for a while i have been looking for some just and eloquent way to express my disconcerted opinion about the tenuous relationship between violence in art and violence in life that some people are trying to make the argument for in the aftermath, and continuing disasters, that are senseless shootings of innocent people. turns out, stanley kubrick had already perfectly articulated such feelings in an interview with noted french critic michel ciment at the time of the release of “a clockwork orange.” because of course. you can read the full interview here but i excerpted the relevant passage for your convenience:

    “There has always been vio­lence in art. There is vio­lence in the Bible, vio­lence in Homer, vio­lence in Shake­speare, and many psy­chi­a­trists believe that it serves as a cathar­sis rather than a model. I think the ques­tion of whether there has been an increase in screen vio­lence and, if so, what effect this has had, is to a very great extent a media-defined issue. I know there are well-intentioned peo­ple who sin­cere­ly believe that films and TV con­tribute to vio­lence, but almost all of the offi­cial stud­ies of this ques­tion have con­clud­ed that there is no evi­dence to sup­port this view. At the same time, I think the media tend to exploit the issue because it allows them to dis­play and dis­cuss the so-called harm­ful things from a lofty posi­tion of moral supe­ri­or­i­ty.

    But the peo­ple who com­mit vio­lent crime are not ordi­nary peo­ple who are trans­formed into vicious thugs by the wrong diet of films or TV. Rather, it is a fact that vio­lent crime is invari­ably com­mit­ted by peo­ple with a long record of anti-social behav­iour, or by the unex­pect­ed blos­som­ing of a psy­chopath who is described after­ward as hav­ing been ‘…such a nice, quiet boy,’ but whose entire life, it is later real­ized, has been lead­ing him inex­orably to the ter­ri­ble moment, and who would have found the final osten­si­ble rea­son for his action if not in one thing then in anoth­er. In both instances immense­ly com­pli­cat­ed social, eco­nom­ic and psy­cho­log­i­cal forces are involved in the indi­vid­ual’s crim­i­nal behav­iour.

    The sim­plis­tic notion that films and TV can trans­form an oth­er­wise inno­cent and good per­son into a crim­i­nal has strong over­tones of the Salem witch tri­als. This notion is fur­ther encour­aged by the crim­i­nals and their lawyers who hope for mit­i­ga­tion through this excuse. I am also sur­prised at the extreme­ly illog­i­cal dis­tinc­tion that is so often drawn between harm­ful vio­lence and the so-called harm­less vio­lence of, say, “Tom and Jerry” car­toons or James Bond movies, where often sadis­tic vio­lence is pre­sent­ed as unadul­ter­at­ed fun. I has­ten to say, I don’t think that they con­tribute to vio­lence either. Films and TV are also con­ve­nient whip­ping boys for politi­cians because they allow them to look away from the social and eco­nom­ic caus­es of crime, about which they are either unwill­ing or unable to do anything.”

    that last point about the difference between “harm­ful vio­lence and the so-called harm­less vio­lence” is what gets me the most as the line seems to me as thin as carpaccio. so used are we to “everyday violence” that we wouldn’t dream of blaming it, would we? only the new and improved violence should be considered for censorship, that of gaspard noé (nsfw) or the used (nsfw) fitting the bill nicely when that of volkswagen or disney are too common to be anything but accepted and acceptable. shall we then eliminate it all? keep it all albeit overseen by a select few who guard the rest of us from exposure to “the hard stuff?” and if so, who?… there are no satisfying answers to these questions, only the study of the past and opinions of the students of that past. per mr. kubrick, i conclude what they do, that the argument is mere distraction.

    have as peaceful a week as possible.