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September 2001, Week 3


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Lang Thompson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 15 Sep 2001 19:42:04 -0400
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>but it occurs to me that we as a culture were able
>to stomach such images of destruction, dismemberment,
>and death because we had not in recent memory seen
>very much of the real thing up close . . . i supect the
>last generation to register images of violence as
>repellant was the viet nam war generation for members

But the Vietnam war is often given as a main cause of the increase in
explicit violence of American movies from the late 60s forward.  Whether
that's true or not explicit violence did become more marketable; in the
early Sixties it was kept in exploitation films (Herschell Gordon Lewis
most notoriously) but Hollywood soon was competing in some of the same
ground, though it would still be 30 or so years before a studio film
matched Lewis standards (for better or worse).  Far from being repellant
films like Bonnie & Clyde, The Godfather, MASH, Catch-22 and The Dirty
Dozen were big hits.

Also from the 60s to the 80s Italy consistently produced far more
explicitly violent films than the US even though many Italians were seeing
political and criminal violence first hand (perhaps some Italian list
member can correct me if I've overstated that).

Most of us probably know somebody who was the victim of a violent crime or
was in a severe car wreck but how often does that affect the way we
approach images of such events?  The US has one of the highest crime rates
of any industrialized country and it's roughly triple the rate of the 60s
so certainly more Americans see real violence now than did at that time.
Again these are things that might have a direct if unconscious bearing on
the types of movies produced or might mean very little (Japan, for
instance, has a significantly lower crime rate than the US but much more
explicitly violent films).

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