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March 1995, Week 5


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
David Smith <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 30 Mar 1995 20:21:04 CST
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
David Trautman:
>Research to make the connection between entertainment and behavior is
>spurious at best.
Maybe. However, let us reach way, way down and try to find a little bit
of common sense.
>Okay, so David Smith wants to hear why his fellow Americans are so enamored
>with "action" in entertainment.
I did not pose such a question. I deemed Americans (and everyone else, I may
add) entranced by "action" films to be brain-dead schlubs addicted to vicarious
excitement. Not a question, a statement. Here again is a question I have posed:
"What has been the role of Hollywood in fomenting America's unslakeable thirst
for blood?"
I am intent on focussing the discussion around the function of the motion-
picture industry, which has a role that goes far beyond "entertainment"--ever
hear of Ronald Reagan? ...the Hollywood Blacklist?-- in stimulating the
catastrophic levels of violence both within American society, and
manifested in its foreign policy. When someone crosses America or one of
its totalitarian allies, the public is out for a major bloodbath, provided
of course that the un-Americans spill most of the blood. Americans are so
accustomed to this method of conflict resolution that the distinction between
"entertainment" and the nightly news gets a tad blurred and it all seems unreal
and of no consequence.
>The assault on America [...]
The *assault on America* ? By whom? Like all barbarian societies such as
Rome and the Third Reich (America falls neatly somewhere between the two
in both extremism and longevity), America is rotting from within. The kinds
of entertainment it provides its citizens are indeed both a symptom and a
catalyst of decay.
>[...] is more a product of a mass reluctance to
>investigate the inner self than it is a product of some conspiracy to subvert
>the Constitution.  Imagination and creativity are under attack.  Corporate
>steam roller strategies are devaluing the contribution that creative minds
>make to advancing civilization.
Welcome to the '50s. American politics is cyclical. As in a downward
>A population that believes that it is more important to be wealthy than to
>illuminate the soul will eventually resort to desperate means to acquire that
>goal.  Marshall McLuhan suggested a long time ago that there was a direct
>relationship between a sense of identity and aggression.  The less a person
>has an identity the more likely they will resort to violent means to assert
>their existence.
Great, so show 'em all the graphic violence they can stomach. That ought
to calm them down and give them some constructive ideas about how to
go about improving their lot. Right, Ulf? Wait, excuse me;
_it has no effect on them whatsoever_.
>When a young viewer has the unsettling perception that they are powerless in
>their own world they will respond.  That message may arrive through a film or
>it may arrive through their parent(s).  Their preference for entertainment
>which features people taking action is completely understandable as a
>consequence of that lack of identity; not the other way around.
People taking action. Very nicely put, but I think we are discussing the
cinematic presentation of sociopaths as role models.
David Smith
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