Comments on

Who watches...

Original entry posted: Wed Jun 6 18:59:05 2007

Josh @ Wed Jun 6 14:33:53 2007 EST

I've been guilty of making the Watchmen connection. although I do think it is probably more of inspiration than Kring simply borrowing directly from. There are some pretty distinct similarities, but also wide ranging differences.

That said, the same conceit was used in V For Vendetta and rehashed in the movie to echo Buch era politics and their failures.

I've been meaning for a while to sit down and start drafting a lenghty post on the role of fear in current American cinema, television and games. Consider that "House On The Left" was a gruesome rape/torture horror story in reaction to the Vietnam War - and now start counting the number of torture themed horror movies are coming out every year, for instance.

Or that last week both Stargate and Atlantis featured civilian related bombings prominently in their plotline. Battlestar's use of the "other" and sabotage (or the whole insurgent angle).

And that's before even putting a military pornfest like 24 on the table. Heck, even 30 Rock made a 9/11 joke.

Thomas @ Wed Jun 6 15:12:59 2007 EST

I talk about Battlestar too much, so I tried not to make a comparison. But yeah. Pretty much. I just added a bunch to this post that could be seen as the difference between Ron Moore's show and Tim Kring's--the former is much more ethically slippery, and so (to me) more interesting, than the latter.

It's unsurprising that V and Watchmen shared similar themes, considering their common author. But the evolution between the two is notable, from outright anarchism to a more nuanced viewpoint.

The point of concern with the current rash of fear-based entertainment isn't that it's there or that it's morally ambiguous. It's that torture and other scenarios are being used without any particular consideration. To me it is less disturbing that 24 lets people watch torture on a regular basis, than that we have become so apathetic to its use. Those programs are using fear in one area (brown people with guns) to desensitize us to a whole host of national values.

Josh @ Wed Jun 6 16:46:45 2007 EST

Yeah - I mean, I think there is a subcontext of fear and torture working on two levels. One is how 24 wraps it up - fear is the plot device which explains torture as a mechanism. Many intelligent viewers can read this with their own moral compass and still acknowledge it isnt the most logical example for defending national policy. Sadly, the show's creator isn't one of those people.

Or you have shows like Heroes and Battlestar which toy with the concepts as reflections of current events.

Then, I think, there is just plain old fear. People are afraid but we don't air it. We don't admit it. Fear becomes a part of the culture, but it is as frequent subtext. Films like Hostel and Saw tap into a social realization that we arent safe, that we might not be prepared. Their popularity might be surprising to Hollywood - but they can count tickets with the best of them.

The latter clicked with me when I was reading a review of something like Wolf Creek as "yet another torture flick" and then later about why Craven wrote "House".

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