Wondering

You’ll find a better title.

Some time ago, I was talking with my mum about Shutter Island and the conversation went approximately this way:

Mom: “Your Brother watched Shutter Island and said it was good”
Elsa: “Oh I watched it too, it is good”
Mom:” Your dad was quite shocked to read it was quite violent and scary but both of you enjoyed it so much”
Elsa: “*weak argument about why it’s not shocking or that violent or scary*”
Mom: ” Nowadays you guys are becoming numb toward these kind of thing it’s scary”.

I felt angry because I react this way every time my mum (or anyone for that matters but since I look up to her opinions, I feel more affected with this kind of comments than if it’s coming from a total stranger), lumps me with ‘my generation’, I feel deeply annoyed. It’s like we are all similar, a whole, a giant puppet making the same mistake and never learning from them. Maybe I’m over simplifying her point but I can’t believe I’m becoming that much insensible to violence. Plus I found Shutter Island quite interesting despite the fact that I got spoiled before so i knew most of the twist at the end, still I did not find it violent at all.

In Japanese Poetry Class, we discussed an abstract of the work of Lady Ukyo Daibu whose most famous account, The Journal of Lady Ukyo Daibu , is divided into two distinctive parts. In part one, she is reporting some part of her life as a lady-in-waiting during the end of the “Golden Days” of the Heian period, talking about her lover, court life and composing what seems to be conventional poetry. Our Professor presented us with  an article by Richard  Borrowing who underlined the conventional and almost boring aspect of the first part of the Journal. The second part, in the other hand, (the part we studied) deals with her life after the beginning of the war during which she lost numerous friends and her lover. Here, she is forced to bend the conventional poetry she has been using so far to fit the horror of her experiences.

Our Professor commented that nowadays, we are really used to see these kind of things on TV and therefore we are not thrown in the same state of despair that affected this author. She refered to Haiti and Chile and how it is easy for us to see these kind of disasters on TV, on printed Press or on the Internet. It’s interesting to see how the poet we studied was forced to create something relatively new because of the situation she was faced with and how novel it may had appeared at the time but how normal it is nowadays.

When I was still living in Gage Residence at UBC, I stepped into our kitchen/dinning room/tv room (it’s small in case you wonder) and my roommate was watching a TV program where a very offended journalist was saying something along the line :” I’m asking all of you to stop watching violent or slashers movies” while images of slasher/violent movies rolled on the screen. It sounded quite weird so I stayed for a bit and learnt that a magazine specialized in very under-dressed ladies published pictures of a girl who recently go raped (killed ?). In order to comment on the case, the journalist invited the parents of a girl who died in a car crash and who’s pictures are apparently really easily findable on the Web. I did not stay more not because it’s was shockingly disturbing but the way the journalist treated the subject was utterly insensible. I had the feeling she was trying to sell exactly what she was condemning.

The day before yesterday, I read a large number of articles about the movie Kick Ass I wanted to go see. Two things actually stopped me.(Edit: Saw it. We were 6 in the theatre and I enjoyed most of it very much despite some rather violent scenes that made me turn away for a while. Bought the comic after too…) One was my own laziness and the second one was because of all the comments claiming it was really violent. It was interesting to read different opinion on the topic and how some people were really mad at the violence of the movie while other thought it was nothing. I guess we all have different standards but sometimes I read synopsis of movies and I wonder how far people are ready to go, how much money everyone is ready to pay to see violent stuffs happening. And I find it quite scary even though it always seems to be the same debate every time new movies come out, how far is too far and where should we set the boundaries (is it even possible to set boundaries now ?).

The first time I saw a part of Kill Bill, I was really mad at my brother and my dad for actually enjoying it. And I was mad at myself for reacting so badly. And then, I watched it again and I liked it much better. Somehow I saw through it and enjoy watching it even though I still don’t like the beginning at all and tend to avoid it.

There are some movies whose parts were judged too violent or inappropriate by our parents so we always skipped when we were kids (this include one scene from Die Hard 2 and one from The Name of the Rose for example) that I will still naturally decide to skip when I watch movies nowadays. It’s probably conditioning.

SD told me we could update her blogs both of us and I agreed. However, I cheated because I used an old draft a turned into something new. It’s hard to write on command or so it seems.

Music:

Okuribito theme songs (beautiful death and main theme)– Joe Hisaishi

Lula-Damien Saez

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6 thoughts on “You’ll find a better title.

  1. SD is pleased you updated your blog and would like to add that she also dislikes being put in the “Today’s generation” group.
    Question: Which is today’s generation? us or the people my sister’s age? Because I already feel the gap and great difference in our respective childhoods.

  2. I recently had two discussions I’d like to share with you.
    I hosted a Canadian friend, aged 55, nice, sensitive, kind, intelligent and educated. She is a medical doctor and she loves nature, animals, flowers and trees. Besides this she owns a farm with cattle and chickens and is thinking of having 2 donkeys. She enjoyed talking with my two dogs and cat, taking strolls with them, and was genuinely interested in them. Then she told me she had seen a corrida in Spain some years ago, and found it quite interesting, although “gross and cruel”. She wanted to make her own opinion about it, having never seen scenes of corridas on screen. She said the atmosphere was unique, people very enthusiastic and thrilled, and that one bull was spared thanks to its “bravery”. She also mentioned that she learned that the banderillas before the final fatal strike were meant to cut the tendons of the neck, so that the bull became gradually unable to lift its head. As I asked about her opinion on the horses of the picadors (who usually are old ones, and get gutted by the bull’s horns but who cares, they are no longer bankable…), knowing she is a rider and even has her own horse, a fine animal called Jester, she said she thought the horses were very well treated and protected by a kind of thick coat. I told her that these coats are here to hide the intestines flowing out of the wounded horse’s belly, and she was surprised. Then she said that although she would not see another corrida, she advised her 20yrs old son to get a ticket to go and see one in Spain “to make his own opinion”. I said that she thus encouraged this kind of show; she replied that a single ticket would not make any difference. OK then, but isn’t the reason why it’s important to vote, because every vote can make a difference?
    The second discussion was with a 13yrs old boy who explained to me that he had seen a lot of horror movies like Saw, Scream, Resident Evil, Freddy, although they are not allowed under 18yrs. He said his parents didn’t care, that he loved to see murder and blood on screen, that it’s only a movie, and he could understand forbidding them to a boy of 8 yrs but not to him because he didn’t get scared. He précised nonetheless that he preferred to see those films with a friend, because when alone, he was scared. Here I have to say that he is having a therapy because of obsessional disorder.
    Where are the limits you put to cruelty, murder, sadism, according to your own criteria? This boy has TV in his bedroom, which my friend never had. Are the thrills or cultural curiosity or just pleasure valid justifications to enjoy those gross shows? What a difference generational gap makes?
    And don’t be upset about the “people your age” thing. It doesn’t mean that all the persons of the same age are the same. But when you come to MY age, you’ll see that you have a community of cultural experiences with people of your generation. Today’s kids have stronger thumb muscles because of intensive use of Playstation. It doesn’t mean that they think all the same. But they get used to things unheard of in the previous generation.

  3. I understand that people of “our generations” are linked by some cultural experiences but I still don’t see more to it. When on TV they go like ” Teenagers today” or “Young adults today” I can’t help but feel annoyed because it seems they are talking about a whole as opposed to a much more poised, smart and unchangeable higher group of people who would all shake their heads from right to left when looking at these documentaries and other news reports. And when we think about it, “our generation” is supposedly the last generation of people who grew up without the presence of Internet and if I agree that shaped us in a certain way, our experiences and relations with this medium are all rather different. Plus, if you think about it, what we have/are/will discover in our generation is shared; it’s not abnormal to see people from all ages using computers and playing video games. It just seems that some people are better suited to use these things because it’s a normal part of our environment since we’re use to have them around us, it’s normal.

    In addition, as you pointed out, people have standards and often double standards. This lady you are talking about wishes she could save the polar bears but does not seem to see the cruelty and stupidity of bull fighting events. I don’t think people are getting less and less sensible to violence I just think violence is normalized and that’s what makes it seems like people are caring less about what’s right or wrong. When you think about it, movies likes “Mad max” or ” Scream” have been around for a while and we could even go even further down and see that this is not new. Maybe it’s just that now we have better technologies and everything seems much more realistic so much more unbearable. I was reading about this movie (“Un chien Andalou”) made by Dali and Luis Bunuel in which the opening sequence depicts one woman’s eye being slit by a razor blade. It was released in 1929 but I’m assuming that 1) the special effects at the time were not that great 2) Only a selected bunch of people were able to actually watch it and understand it (?) 3) Young boys did not have TV in their rooms and probably were not allowed inside the cinemas.

    That’s another thing that made me mad when I went and worked with Children during the Olympic break: what the heck are the parents thinking when they just leave their kids alone with a connexion internet or a TV in their rooms without monitoring what they see/do? And what makes me even more mad/sad is to think that my own children later on will be going to school and will ask me “why can’t I have a TV in my room? Why can’t I have a computer?” and will probably be stigmatized for not taking part in all of this. I guess it’s easier to write it than to actually do it but why don’t people take responsibility for their actions? I agree that sometimes regulations for movies are quite over the top but if it’s forbidden for viewers under 18 why do you let your child watch it? What do you expect him/her to understand?

  4. Also, I finally went ahead and saw “Kick-ass” last Saturday and I must say I enjoyed some of it and had trouble keeping my eyes open at some other moment. But something I liked about the movie is how it engages the viewer in actually realizing what it means to be dead or kill. In all the James Bond movies I saw, people die by thousands! And it does not matter at all! They are just killed and disposed of in a very artistic fashion and we don’t care about them after. In “Kick-ass”, the hero realizes that being a super hero does not mean you can just jump and ask people to stop fighting/stealing a car. You can get hurt in the process quite badly (he got stabbed and run over by a car just after). I don’t think the filmmaker (or the original group of scenarists for the Comic) were really keen into showing that “people died when they are killed” but none of the characters are depicted as unbeatable or immortal, they are tortured, attacked and killed. And it made me really sad when I went out of the theatre to think that this is the world we are now living in. I guess movies make people forget how vulnerable and mortal we are, we are just afraid to face the very fact that we are all going to pass away sooner or later.

    It’s quite strange because I was reading this article just recently about this movie that went out and which plot is completely messed up in my standards but very well executed for others. And on the comment section of the film review, some people wrote things like “the filmmaker should be sterilized” and so-on. It’s strange how people are going out of their ways to actually post these kind of comments. If you don’t like a movie, don’t watch it, don’t support it, don’t talk about it, make it disappeared. What’s the essence of a movie is that it shows things that are not really happening right ? This is what makes the Bull Fight story you told first much more frightening to me: “let’s go see them die and get tortured live ! great ! don’t forget to bring the kid !”That’s sickening. Maybe we should just realize that we are a sick species who enjoy seeing things die and suffer. Or are we ?

  5. You know, the nazis in the concentration camps were torturing and killing people during days and nights , but they were usualy fathers with beloved children, enjoyed to play with their shepperd dogs (see hiltler at berghof) and loved to play or hear classical music mainly Wagner but for some of them Schubert or Mozart. The same people were able to have completely different behavior with a constant feeling doing the right thing for the best achievement either for their nation(ein reich) or for their family(famille patrie) Terorists are another example of people with a false potential good reason, will kill innocents without any bad feeling. God with us or for the people well being are usual leitmotives used by fanatic individuals. It is a long way for them to understand the reality of their actions. Violence is not a good way to entertain for me. We should consider it, as a failure of human beings ” back to the trees”. We should protect our children from being exposed to violence in reality and fictions; We can explain and speak about it but we should show that it is a negative way to solve conflictual situations. The fictional violence shown on any screen today scared me about the translation to reality when little frustrations will arise in normal life. I strongly believe that we should ban violence from the screens and that we should point to young children that education, respect and discussion will lead to a more livable society.

  6. All right, it’s been a while but I thought about all of this again and I’ll try to reply.
    I don’t think supressing all violence of all possible media would be the solution. Imagine your favorite books or movies without any violence. “Lords of the Rings” without a fight ? Let’s just hike to Mordor…. “The seven samourais” without a fight ?
    And if you think about it violence itself is a very vague term. We should also consider psychological violence and other types. It’s there everywhere and it’s necessary to understand it. Plus it’s part of what we are isn’t it (Look at the news) so we should not ban anything but maybe discuss it and make it less assecible to those who should not be exposed to it too early (that’s why they have these criterias of selections on movies and video games PG 13 and etc…).
    And +1 Godwin Point coming this way…

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