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March 1994


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louis schwartz <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 4 Mar 1994 13:11:55 -0600
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It seems to me that one of the many important differences between
Reservoir Dogs and Naked is that Naked makes the audience complicit in the
violence by establishing sympathy for Johnny. The characters in Dogs are
presented as it were in quotation marks and the violence in the film is
tagged in various ways as a filmic effect (the "watch your head" sign that
we see while the famous ear is being severed works this way). I'm not
suggesting that Naked gives us real people and real violence, but that it
breaks down the irony that Dogs insists on. Dogs works like the Godard
films of the mid 60s, a period when Godard was saying things like "its not
blood, its red." The violence in Naked, and indeed the film itself, does
not want to tarry at the level of the signifier but aims at signifieds
and even referents. Its power, and the power of DT's performance, is that
we come to see a vicious sociopath's suffering and we come to like him.
His violence is not so different in kind from our own. In dogs the
violence is anothers, the signifiers of societies, but it is never related
to our own violence. Thus we can see Dogs and feel gleeful after, as after
a bull fight, where as Naked provokes an affect that is far harder to
endure, but finally much more important.