I didn't admire the skill and energy of Pulp Fiction, and in fact, I was so
disturbed that I had to walk out in the middle (and I do have a degree in
Cinema Studies). To me filmmakers like Tarrantino (whether his art imitated
his reality or not) invite a reality that imitates his art. And that is a
very dangerous place.
The artistic "ante has been upped" as Jeff Apfel pointed out, and so has the
real life ante. In the 1950's, for example, film culture represented the
fear of "other" in the age of blacklisting, HUAC, and the atomic bomb. As
scary as that was then, it *is* mild compared to the terrorist and nuclear
threats of today. And as we are exposed to a grittier reality than apple
pie and the American Dream, the public embraces films that depict this as
opposed to gloss. Though the reverse can certainly be argued -- does life
imitate art or vice versa.
We are also technologically more competent. To me, scarily so. And we seem
to have replaced the representation of the fear of technology (The
(original) Fly, etc.) with using it for its shock value toward gruesome and
scary ends. (I realize that this is a generalization and not across the
I'd like to believe there will be a shift back in the other direction (less
violence), as happens politically when things swing too far left or right.
Film is still relatively new (as compared to written art forms). It seems
each decade has been an experiment of its own kind, representing
technological and societal shifts. I too have more to say, but will end
here (without a conclusion) and see what everyone else thinks...
Thanks for the original comment,
the escalation of just about everything in film (and for that matter, in
>music, TV and most cultural products).
Take violence. Peckinpah was
>considered the dean of violence in the sixties but one realizes, comparing his
>Getaway to the more recent version, how much we have become addicted to a
>octane level in the present day. The early version now seems tame,
now that the ante has
>been upped: what, if anything, is lost in this process?
>In the recent book Dumbing Down, Philip Lopate has an essay which picks up on
>some of these themes. He, like me, admires the skill and energy with which,
>say, Pulp Fiction is put together, while at the same time questioning the
>impulses of a culture which demands that specific form of entertainment.
>Rather than run on with this thought, I'll just stop here and invite comments.
>That is to say, I'd finish with a conclusion if I had one.
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