Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Torture Porn vs. Horror Films

Kim du Toit-one of the best bloggers out there-has been commenting about Torture Porn films such as the Saw or Hostel series. And, I fully agree with him-and the sad thing is that short of another serious act of censorship or blacklisting, torture porn is here to stay.

Okay, let's see...my last convention was SilCon 2007, where the theme was horror films. And, I do mean "horror". Some of the films shown in the hallways were films that were hideously not PG-13 trailer material. And, there was a deep love of "let's see how much blood and guts we can generate, just to see what we can generate."

Why do people make torture porn films? First of all, it's cheap-Hostel was made for about $5 million dollars and made $81 million in return-about a sixteen times return on the investment. Saw is an even better example-$1.5 million to make, $100 million in return, about ninety times as much. I'm willing to bet that at the convention, I could go onto the floor and offer to about eight or ten people there a contract for a small amount of money now and a portion of the profits for the next iteration of the series-and get them, easy.

Second, it's like watching a car wreck-some people actually like watching this. Does anybody remember that lovely comment "if it bleeds, it leads"? There are people out there that like watching crush porn-and torture porn can make most people think they're the guy doing the cutting or the building of the horrible gadgets of torture. They are the ones that will be the ones that watch as somebody is slowly, slowly killed-and they get to kill the next one.

Please, everybody's had at least one fantasy of taking apart somebody we really didn't like.

Third, and finally, it's empowering all your little monsters. There's no plot to worry about (mostly), there's no morality message involved (classic '70s and '80s horror film-premarital sex, yuppies, and being an idiot, bad!), there's no need to make the guy that's doing all the torture into a bad guy. There are no good or bad guys after all, just points of view (lovely post-modernist concept...). Oh, and you get to have such fun torturing people...

You can argue that there is a market, and if they don't fill the void, somebody else will. But...should it be filled? Should films like this be made, with people going home with those little monsters of their psyche fed? That films like this are just mainstream enough that people don't look too askew when they take their kids to the film (any parent that takes a kid under 12 to one of these films should be shot). The ones engaging in the torture have enough moral ambiguity that you can see being the one with the chainsaw.

This is not like horror films. Say what you will of it, Grindhouse was a perfect send-up of the Z-grade, cheap-ass budget film that go hideously towards the late-late-late-shouldn't you be asleep TV movies or on Showtime during the 3 am hours. I can't see a sendup of torture films like Army of Darkness did to horror films. Some horror films actually make a lot of sense and are sometimes so overdone that they're just hokey. And, the guys that torture in horror films tend to be the bad guys. The ones cutting up people with the chiansaws? You shoot them, please. The shooters aren't the guys that cut up girls for fun.

Horror films are intended to scare you and shock you. Torture porn are best watched with one hand on the popcorn...and one on your joystick. If you can't get any play with your joystick...well, enjoy watching a beautiful girl (that, in real life, somebody like her shot you down) get eaten alive by mutant cannibals. Get some good revenge in, for the boss that drove you mad, the girl that teased you in bed, the doctor that treated you like an idiot and a fool...all of them have to suffer.

This is a bad way to go. Add to that the fact that most kids would be better parented by wolves and there's some...social validation to being a successful torturing asshole pervert (Hostel has a club of very rich people that get to torture and torment people for fun, there are people that consider Jigsaw in Saw to be a folk hero) is expressed here. Add to that music media that most kids listen to tends to view women as objects at best, tissue paper at worse...I'm scared to see what the next school killing spree will be.

My advice? Don't watch it, don't spend money on people that sponsor it, make it known that you don't tolerate this kind of mess...I don't.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

My Official Endorsement

I used to be a huge political junkie. Couldn't get enough of politics, fun to read and almost always hilarious if you just ignored how much money was being spent to have all of that fun.

I started getting tired of it about 2006-2007 or so, just burnout in the form of getting tired of the morons on parade (on both sides of the political aisle) and just was content to watching the monkeys throw poo at each other.

But, the old political urges get pulled back up, especially looking at the clowns showing up on stage these days. Let's see...
  • Hillary Clinton- We had one Clinton and that was one too many. And she is much more...driven than her husband. And he was a statist Tranzi bastard.
  • Barack Obama- Does not impress me at all, and I'm convinced that he would be the Jimmy Carter candidate of this election. And I mean that in all of the bad ways possible...
  • John Edwards- At best, an ambulance chaser. At worse, a fool. And, a scary one, too.
  • Rudy Giuliani- If he would just come out of the (proverbial) closet and run as a Democrat, I wouldn't feel like I would have to hold my nose when I looked at the Democratic party. Probably a great law&order president, but not very good otherwise.
  • Ron Paul- This guy is probably drinking too much of the very special Kool-Aid, and he is the sort of candidate that gives "fringe" a bad name. His supporters are notorious for spamming polls to make Ron Paul look like he has actual appeal and a groundswell of support. At the very least, we now know where all of the Black Helicopter/ZOG/UN Conspiracy nuts are hanging out...
  • Mike Huckabee- He has this kind of swarmy/messy sort of look to him that reminds me oddly of either Mister Saxon or Tony Blair, in which he's very very much the consummate politician. Hideously greasy, and is using his Mormonism as a defense against criticism.
  • John McCain- Another long time, annoying politician that was the author of the damn near unconstituional McCain/Feingold Act and he just seems too...polished, as well.
So, now that we've reduced all the candidates down, and who's left?

I personally think that Fred Thompson is the best possible candidate for 2008. So far, nobody has been able to show me otherwise. On the big core issues-defense (a bigger and better military, more capable and more able to fight small and big wars), economic policy (keeping taxes low and encouraging people to invest and put money away), immigration (his full paper and proposal don't include things that I'd like to see-but, then again, what I'd like to see is "big catapult on the border to fling convicted criminals over to the other side of the Rio Grande"-and dealing the problem on both sides, coyotes and the people that hire illegal laborers), and other factors.

Not the perfect candidate, mind you...but he is a good choice, has a record of saying what he means, and is not a scrubbed, polished, shaped, and otherwise tweaked candidate that looks like he'd do anything to win and is waiting for the best price for his Mom.

So, Vote Fred 2008!