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July 1994


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Gerald Forshey <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 19 Jul 1994 23:39:57 -0400
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            when you stand back and look at
          the large number of violent action films that
          portray violence as heroic and women as inanimate
          objects, you realize these images must have some
          impact on the population, teenagers in particular,
          who want to be like these heroes.  I was not
          allowed to see any violent or horror films growing
          up and have to wonder what effect they would have
          had on me at a younger age.   You say we disdain
          the films that are destined to make millions.
          That is exactly what concerns me.  The violent
          action pictures ARE making a lot of money so I
          assume they affect a greater number of people.
The main change in recent years in the adventure series has been its
reliance on violence, a sign of white male anger.  Blasts, putdowns, mass
murder are all justified by stripping villains of any humanity.  That is
what made "Under Seige" with Tommy Lee Jones so notable, that it was not
angry enough to sustain the Steven Seagal bone-crunching anger.
    I think that differs from earlier adventure films, where the heroics
were the focus rather than the anger at terrorists or radicals or
psychotics. That kind of anger is very justifying, and tends to legitimate
the extremities of violence, which after all, are feelings of frustration
and impotence.
    In that sense, these white male dramas--the Bruce Willis,
Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal films-- (for that is who they are addressed to)
have a good deal of influence among certain segments of the audience, those
who are already most alienated.  It is the alienation from society that
makes them powerful to teenagers.
                Gerald Forshey  Professor of Humanities,
                                Daley College
                                City Colleges of Chicago