Sunday, October 08, 2006

Tarantino's Licensed Depravity

I just watched HOSTEL, which I found disgusting. I am not one to take moral stances, much less on movies. But in this case I am sorely tempted. Tarantino should have his head examined for supporting something as grotesque as this. That said, it does have some powerful imagery, once the barbarism begins (the first hour was just crap), and obviously it evoked a strong emotional response in me. But how hard is it to get an emotional response from scenes of graphic torture? (I felt the same about Tarantino’s ear-slicing scene in Dogs, which was just exploitation cinema done up in new, postmodern rags). The film was disturbing, sure, but at a visceral rather than psychological level. Footage of animal experimentation would also be disturbing. Big deal.

What I admire about movies like Blue Velvet and Casualties of War (also M), and even Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is the way they get to the psychological roots of sadism, (by) creating empathy not just for the victims (easy enough, obviously), but for the perpetrators also. Tarantino seems devoid of empathy as a filmmaker. It’s hard to imagine a greater defect (I think Kubrick suffered from it too, however, so I guess there are ways around it!). He delights in depicting scenes of pain and dismemberment with all the sadistic relish of a Goebbels.

They say a society gets the heroes it deserves. Tarantino’s success strikes me as (like everything) symptomatic of just how “depraved” (removed from basic human qualities like compassion, introspection, kindness) audiences have become, that they would take pleasure in what amount to sadistic orgies of violence with no leavening “moral” (i.e. artistic) intent behind them.

In the end, there can be no credible argument made for censorship of any kind. But if there was, Hostel would be exhibit A.


Robbizzle said...

Art comes in many fashion, and Morals are everywhere if you know how to look. Do not be fooled. Hostel was a lousy movie. The gore was well done, I thought, but the hour of bland partying fell short of what the movie was trying to accomplish.

While the movie was well made, and it was as far as all the technical stuff is concerned, the story simply left you(and anybody else who has seen a real horror movie, like texas chainsaw massacre) slightly insulted. As you have stated, we don't really care about any of the charecters enough to invest ourselves into the film.

The gore comes right out, and it is meant to disgust you. It is meant to be a thrill you've never encountered and it hit its mark, did it not?

Don't blame the over the top gore for the movies lack of heart, when there is so much else to whine over.

Oh, and for moral, don't look too deep into the film because the moral is painful and obvious like the worst of all urban legends.

Beware of beautiful women who are interested in you.

gabriela said...

I have turned forty too, and wouldn´t watch Hostel after having heard what it is about. Not my kind of movie - not the kind
of "food" I choose to digest, being overly-sensitive to violence and not needing more examples of human atrocities to know how dark human nature can be. What really shocked me was to hear comments in class from two 13-year-old girls, who had seen the dvd and didn´t seem disturbed at all by it. Their parents´oblivion of what their kids watch is also striking (or maybe I prefer to think it´s oblivion and not consent)
On a different note, Matrix is one of the best movies ever -nowhere have I found a more intelligent composite of the greatest philosophical/occult mysteries. Your book is simply...awesome.

jake horsley said...