September 6, 2008

Redeeming Qualities of Violence?

Totally off topic, but what the hell - I'm entitled to indulge every once in awhile. Regular readers may remember that I'm a bit of a horror film fan. I finally got around to watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning last night. I'd been avoiding it because I figured it would be bad and I'm a fan of the original. It wasn't great but managed to be at least somewhat better than I thought it would be. So here is my question: can the depiction of graphic violence for the sake of violence have any real merit?

I'll admit that I found the film entertaining. I wouldn't recommend it, and I have no need to see it again, but it wasn't a terrible way to waste an evening. Is this enough to redeem what was a brutal and nasty film?

I could try to argue artistic merit and claim that the film needs no social merit because it functions as art. This seems a bit week in this particular case. I have seen many films which were far more violent and disturbing but that genuinely worked as art. This wasn't really up to the standard where it could be considered art.

Did it have any cathartic value? No, not really. The violence was sufficiently predictable and over-the-top that it didn't really accomplish anything emotional. Or maybe I'm just thoroughly desensitized by now.

Maybe movies like this do not need to have any social merit, any redeeming qualities. Maybe the fact that someone finds them entertaining is enough. I don't know. I do not mind graphic violence when I feel that there is some point to it. In the absence of any such point, it seems to accomplish little more than desensitization. I'm not sure this is a good thing.

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