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April 1994


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Bob Stewart <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 16 Apr 1994 17:49:16 -0400
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    Jordan Stein wrote:
>         In response to Tom Byers's posting from Friday 4/ 15/ 93, I would
> say that viewing violent films is one of the methods by which we deal with
> deep seated cultural fears.  I wouldn't want to imagine a society where
> topics that are deemed as deviant, such as violence, are beyond the realm
> of cultural expression.
        This to me seems a somewhat tired defense of violence in
films, ie. that any criticism of a film's reliance on violence is mere
bourgeois uncomfortableness with a "deviant" art style. Though the
violence that Blue Velvet or Bad Lieutenant may be deviant from
normal, socially accepted behavior, as a topic for a film it is
anything but deviant.
>         Given that violent images are an important form of our cultural
> expression, it seems that the problem isn't the images themselves, but the
> fact that so many people are ill equipt to interpret these images as part
> of a symbolic framework.  For someone who is media literate seeing Blue
> Velvet probably won't have a more negative impact than reading Edgar Allen
> Poe would.
        I wonder if a more accurate phrase would be "media immersed".
Although I agree that violence does have an expressive value, it's the
very over saturation of film violence that deadens it's expressive
power. As was said of the Holocaust, it is the creation of the
banality of violence that makes it acceptable.
        It is a very narrow view of the potential of film
expression to see the superabundance of violence as merely making use
of film language.
        Bob Stewart  [log in to unmask]