Violent movies. : LUSENET : Xeney : One Thread

Do you avoid graphic violence in movies? What about scary movies in general? Does violence in movies affect you, or are you pretty immune to it?

I'm not sure I buy the desensitization idea, because it certainly hasn't worked that way with me. What do you think?

And what relationship, if any, do you think violence in movies has to violence in real life?

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001


God, yes. I avoid scary movies as much as I possibly can (though my roommate just adores them and will sit in jaw-dropped shock for ten minutes upon hearing that I haven't seen X flick). I attempted to watch Psycho when she wanted to so I wouldn't come out as the big wuss I am, but after awhile she went to bed and I turned it off. Enough carnage already. I've found there are a few horror flicks I can get through (IT turned out to be one of them- another roommate fave), and tacky silly movies can be managed if they're REALLY campy and unrealistic, but otherwise, bleech. (Can't imagine why I can read Laurell K. Hamilton which gets even gorier, but at least I'm not looking at it.)

I don't even want to think about violence in the movies versus real life. They can both get really bad, but one you don't pay money to see, while the may be the recipient OF that violence.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

I don't actively seek out violence in movies, but when it does happen, I cover my eyes and whimper a bit. But then, I also do that when I know someone's going to do something dumb - like if they're sneaking around and spying on someone, and the someone they're spying on comes back home and is about to catch them, I hide my eyes.

I am split on the violence in movies / violence in real life type of thing. My major issue is that parents have to teach their kids that killing is bad, trying to kill is bad, and that violent things are bad. I watched hundreds of horror movies growing up, and I've only been in one fight (where someone else started it, I swear!) and to this date have not killed anyone (although today has been a pain... someone's gotta go down).

But then, when I see things on tv like that MTV show where they do really dumb things (like set themselves on fire) and then I see the news when kids in my state actually do that to themselves, it really does make me wonder.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

I have no problem with violence in movies. I find it cathartic. Cruelty in movies, however, bothers me a lot. I have limited patience for the scenes in which one guy, usually the one with the gun, makes the other one beg for mercy or kills him slowly or scares the life out of him. I walked out of Pulp Fiction the first time I saw it, though the second time I got the satire.

I don't think violence in entertainment is either a reflection of or a cause of violence in real life. It's like a fantasy projection or something.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

I don't normally care for violent movies. I remember when I rented Silence of the Lambs. I got so drunk while it was, I laughed at Anthony Hopkins thru the whole damn thing. I wasn't scared in the least. I guess I should try to watch it sober.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

But then, when I see things on tv like that MTV show where they do really dumb things (like set themselves on fire) and then I see the news when kids in my state actually do that to themselves, it really does make me wonder.

See, I have no sympathy for that kid, and not much for his parents. If you raise a kid dumb enough to think that setting himself on fire is a good idea just because he saw it on TV (and on a show that is full of "don't try this at home, idiot" disclaimers), then I don't think you can go blaming the TV show.

I'm very skeptical of the argument that violent media results in a violent society. However, I do know that violent media results in ugly nightmares for me, which is why I mostly avoid violent films.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

I can watch fairly violent movies without freaking out (although I do remember barely making it through Alien the first time...). This confuses my wife greatly, because I don't like to watch the X-files. Weekly graphic depictions of potentially violent stuff freaks me out. Going out once every few months and renting half a dozen violent movies is fine. Go figure.

I think a certain amount of the violence in real life is helped along by violent movies, not so much because people think it's okay, but because they wonder what it would feel like to do those things.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

I went to Wal-Marts the other day, (and yes it is, as most southerners will tell you, pronounced Wal-Marts), and found a fancy edition of Rosemary's Baby on sale for $5.99. I'd never seen it before but I remembered my mom saying how scary it was so I bought it.

Scary? Hardly. I kept waiting for the extremely frightening part - never happened. I felt cheated. Maybe it was the terror of the seventies, but in 2001 it holds all the horror inducing power of a 'satanic' Ozzy video.

Fight Club, now that was a graphically cringe inducing somewhat scary movie. But, even that, I suspect will not bear the same entertainment value generations down the road as it did for me. I think it is a combination of enhanced cinematic technology and desenitization, but I won't say that desensitization alone is the cause only because a book that was thought to be scary seventy years ago can still raise the hairs on the back of my neck.

I do think movies peddal a certain degree of behavioral influence. Why would companies pay thousands of dollars for their thirty second mini cousins if they didn't?

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

Beth, you exactly describe why I avoid horror - it's like the images become imprinted on my brain and then start mutating and having babies of their own -- they multiply and morph and I get no sleep until days later when total exhaustion finally sets in. I'm to the point where graphic descriptions of horror trigger the same visual reactions.

What's weird is that violence in action movies (your traditional shoot'em'ups) don't bother me or trigger that same response. Maybe it's the difference between the personal in-your-face-ness of horror and the distance good-guy (cop type things)(they know what they're in for supposedly) / bad-guy movies. It's like if a good guy is chasing a bad guy and mayhem ensues, it's part of the chase (bargain) the good guy is in for when he made the choice to pursue. But the innocent victim... walking in their shoes so to speak and then seeing them mutilated? Clock me staying up for days after that.

-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

The appeal (such as it is) of Hannibal Lector is not that he's a cannibal psychopath. Otherwise Dahlmer would have a devoted following. Most serial murderers are excrutiatingly ordinary or boring otherwise.

It's his intelligence, the very duality of his existence---he's a respected psychiatrist, who still writes articles for learned psychiatric journals after he's caught....and he's a psychopath who will casually eat your liver if it amused him. It is the superintelligence mixed with utter amorality and sociopathy that makes him somewhat fascinating.

I saw SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, and the performance was good, and I was struck. Then, just recently I read the book, about his maroon eyes, in which the reflections were red. His six-fingered hand.

It's not easy to make a really good villain, and almost none of them are realistic. The most famous villain of all, Fu Manchu, had a brow like Shakespeare and a face like Satan, could speak all the civilized languages and half of the barbarous, and always kept his word and was true to his own values---that of reviving China to its glory. When I was eighteen, I read a Fu Manchu novel, and found it to be amazing fun, if one can get back the racism of the time, and collected the others. When I read Hannibal Lector, I had the same feeling---he's not supposed to be realistic. He's supposed to be an urbane Satan (didn't C.S. Lewis say in the SCREWTAPE LETTERS that demons fed on our souls?) admirable for his intellect and abominable for his amorality.


-- Anonymous, February 09, 2001

I saw Hannibal last night. I shouldn't have.

Like Beth was saying in her entry, it hit a little too close to home. I'm a forensic anthropology major. I've seen hundreds of vivid photos of incredibly gruesome deaths. The image of a 22 year old girl who was bound with electrical tape and raped with a plugged in curling iron is never leaving my brain. I've been to autopsies and seen the naked corpse of a 78 year old woman whose schizophrenic son blew her brains out. I've boiled down a spinal column and bent down close to examine the bugs on a year-old corpse.

Gross you out? Then so will that movie, times a thousand. I'm definitely not desensitized after all I've seen. It's made me alot calmer in medical situations, i.e. taking my 10 year old cousin to the ER when he split his knee to the bone. Real life grossness is easier to deal with now. But if anything, horror movies are that much worse to watch having seen the real thing.

That said, I have no problem with scary movies in general. I like to be scared, it's fun.

-- Anonymous, February 10, 2001

Oh god yes.

It affects me terribly. I've gotten bit more resistance to it as I've gotten older, but the fact remains, that moves STAY with me for a long time after I see them.

Hence, scary ones, the fear, the ugliness, all that, also stays with me for a very long time, if I wind up screwing up the nerve to watch one.

Most recently I think, "Seven" was the one that got me bad.

That movie left me shaking and in shock as I left the theater and Sabs had to take me for a walk in the woods to get over the icky feeling the film left me with.

I've never seen Silence of the Lambs in its entirety -- just the very end of it, several times.

I always knew that it wasn't a film I'd probably be able to stand.

And by all accounts I was right.

I still avoid scary movies, though I did manage to make it through Halloween H2O intact, by virtue of it being a rather silly film.

"What Lies Beneath" had me grabbing the arms of my seat on the plane back from Germany just 2 weeks ago, and there are still scenes from that, that hav stayed with me and I don't like to think about.

As for the relationship between violence on screen and violence in real life ... I think that it can have both positive and negative effects.

For some folks like me, it brings home the fact that violence is nasty and horrible and makes me run screaming for the hills away from any sort of violent action.

At the same time, it also does have an inuring effect -- the more you see it, the less impactful it can become with subsequent viewings.

It all depends, I think, on how your brain was patterned out in the first place.

-- Anonymous, February 12, 2001

The whole living alone thing has me avoiding all kinds of movies. I too, had a hard time sleeping after seeing "What Lies Beneath".

I just get way too worked up. I have a way over active imagination. I'm the girl in the theatre that jumps ten feet out of her seat and makes everyone else giggle.

I had a hard time sleeping for months after watching "The Blair Witch Project". I know many people were able to watch it with a cynical, this is stupid attitude. Not me. The sounds and the screaming. Shit, I freaked out taking the dog out alone for months.

After watching "The Gift", I started setting the alarm, every night. And that movie wasn't even that scary. See? I can't see Hannibal. I don't need those visuals to push me right over the edge.

-- Anonymous, February 12, 2001

"That movie left me shaking and in shock as I left the theater and Sabs had to take me for a walk in the woods to get over the icky feeling the film left me with. "

Hell, no. If I was freaked out, there is no way you would get me near the woods. No.

That's one thing about living in NC. Woods everywhere. My friend is house shopping. She told her real estate agent that she wasn't interested in a certain house because I said it was a little too "Kiss the Girls". And it was, and that movie freaked me out too. No woods, no thanks.

-- Anonymous, February 12, 2001

I wouldn't avoid a movie, knowing it contained graphic violence, if I was interested in seeing that movie. I love scary movies and very few have had any lasting affect on me with one exception. I saw The Exorcist in it's original release when I was 9 years old and it stays with me to this day. But I still watch it. I still love it. I wish Hollywood were able to make more truly frightening films.

Desensitized ? Depends. I know if it's something "fresh" to my eyes then it horrifies me. I went to see Saving Private Ryan in the theater. The first 20 minutes of that movie really shook me up. I have a tendency to project myself into the on-screen situation. Now I can watch the movie and it doesn't affect me the same way as the first time I viewed it.

Movie violence must have some relationship to violence in real life. I think (meaning my opinion) kids respond to it the same way they respond to any other presence in their lives. What they learn from it and how they relate to it is directly related to what they know in their real world experiences. Take two extremes so I can quickly illustrate my point - If they are being raised in poverty by a violent drug dealing and/or taking parent then it's very real to them and they are very likely to emulate it. If they live in a two parent suburban home where one of the parents is able to stay at home and that childs enjoys a healthy parent/child relationship with both those parents then violence is scary and unreal to them. They don't live in the presence of it. Most of us fall somewhere in between.

-- Anonymous, February 12, 2001

I avoid movies with graphic violence, if that sounds like the main thing about them. It's just boring, ultimately. The movies I like best have interesting people and stories and so many violent movies just don't. There are exceptions, of course.

I like scary movies if they're well done. I loved The Sixth Sense. It gave me the willies even though I knew before I saw it what was going on. I don't really like scary movies that are scary just because someone jumps out of a closet with a knife and startles you. I mean, I'll jump, but it's a cheap way to get a reaction. Do it by creating a scary situation and building it up, like The Haunting (original version) or The Innocents or even The Sopranos.

Violence in movies doesn't affect me a lot. I'm really creeped out by scenes involving knives but I'm nervous around blades of every kind in real life, too. If a movie has really over the top violence it starts to look stupid to me, or I get aware that it's an effect. Some makeup guy had a lot of fun rigging up that flying blood.

I liked Silence of the Lambs, the book and the movie. Al is right, Hannibal Lector is an interesting character because of his intelligence. He's a psychiatrist who's insane - now that's intriguing - and there's the weird stuff between him and Clarice. Does she understand him because she's crazy too, or because she's a good detective? The ambiguity is interesting. I also liked Red Dragon, a earlier book by the same author in which Hannibal makes a brief appearance. However, I heard the book Hannibal was bad from its first reviews, so I never had an intention of seeing the movie.

I think for some people there is a certain desensitization to violence. Also I think it works the other way - some people watch and think it looks cool to blow people away with a gun or something, and they don't realize how messy the reality actually is.

-- Anonymous, February 12, 2001

I avoid violent movies. I avoid movies and TV shows that have violence against women. I just think there's enough of that kind of crap in the real world, such that I have no need to see it.

I mean what about the guy who killed and possibly raped those two little girls. I am about insane because Fox news sees fit to interview this guy who is apparently toying with the family about that he did it. I've seen the previews and I've made a point of NOT watching their program as a result.

How disgusting is it that they're interviewing a child killer? So it's probably not a surprise that I will not watch other violent stuff, particularly something I have to pay for and declare as "entertainment." I don't find it entertaining.

I think that people are influenced greatly by what they see on TV and in the movies. I know I am. The few things I've ever watched, I find myself very caught up in things and jumping out of my skin during intense periods. I had a roommate who said I spent scary movies flipping around like a fish in my seat.

I am probably a big wimp, but yuck!

-- Anonymous, February 13, 2001

Like Beth, I also have the violent movie nightmares. In fact, I had one (waking up screaming) Thursday night in which Hannibal was after me... (among other things.)

I've never been able to watch movies with any sort of violence in them.

And about the kids who reinact things they've seen on TV... I'd like to chalk that one up to lack of parental supervision and availability. Parents are just as culpable as the media on that one, of not more so. You run into those type problems, again, in my opinion, when you let a TV be a child's babysitter/caregiver instead of the guidance of a concerned parent.

-- Anonymous, February 13, 2001

There really is a fine line here. I considered 'Silence' an incredibly well made thriller, and the characterizations and drive of the plot enabled me to stomach the gore and the violence, because all through the movie everything is put into perspective. But in most cases, and 'Seven' is the worst example I've ever sat through, the characters are shallow and the plots are generic and predictable at best. And all you're left with then is a disgusting gorefest. Unfortunately, a lot of these gorefests have jumped the 'Silence' bandwagon for the past decade. So much so that I've decided to blacklist directors such as David Fincher and actors such as Brad Pitt and Kevin Spacey a long time ago. No matter what kind of movies they do, the fact that they are prone to picking their projects because of the shock value is just too disgusting for me to bear.

Anyone heard about the 'Fight Club' DVD? It's got this 'making of' documentary on it, in which Fincher and Pitt are snickering about how they tricked a stuntman into tumbling down a flight of concrete stairs twelve times in a row, when they intended to use one of the first takes all along. And they're snickering about it as if it's the best joke ever!

So is there a relationship between violence in movies and violence in real life? Yeah, absolutely. As long as the movie makers consider it OK, fun even, to torment their own staff during a shoot, I think it's safe to say that at least some sick movies are probably made by people with a very questionable morality. And all you have to do is look at Columbine, a massacre which was obviously intended to mirror violent movies and video games, to see the influence of such people.

I'm not saying everyone will be influenced by it - most of us have more than enough common sense and good will to prevent that from happening - but there are those.....

-- Anonymous, February 14, 2001

I keep thinking that I can deal with violence in movies because I can READ books with a huge amount of violence in them. I tried to watch "The Bone Collector" the other day and about 35 minutes into the film...the part where Angelina had to deal with the dead woman and what Mr. Denzel was asking her to do..... That was a few weeks ago and I'm still replaying that scene over and over in my head. I can't stomach it in any form on the television.

-- Anonymous, February 14, 2001

I think the violent or disturbing movie scene that affected me most was when I was nine years old or so and I saw "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," where the one guy pulled out the other guys heart. Actually, the ending to Raiders scared the hell out of me when I was little too, what with all the face melting and such.

Overall I didn't find Seven or Silence of the Lambs all that scary, but that's probably because they were so built up before I went to see them that they couldn't meet my expectations.

There's something that makes me uneasy about people who are fascinated with the evil genius archetype. These are the same people that usually watch a ton of documentaries on the Hitlery channel. I dunno. It's just a little creepy.

I think, as a few others have pointed out, there is a huge difference between violence a la Robocop or Two Mules for Sister Sarah (where Clint Eastwood mows down a trainfull of Frenchmen with a machine gun) and the violence of a stalker/serial killer movie. My personal preference is that my entertainment be really wacky or really violent, but drama and screechiness turn me off.

-- Anonymous, February 15, 2001

Y'know it's odd...I think for the vast majority of people, it is a cathartic release for whatever violent impulses they subconsciously have. Nine-tenths of the people I know who love elaborate murder mysteries or slasher movies are the most harmless people on Earth, and probably would turn the other cheek in a brawl.

Yet for a tiny minority, I believe, it instead reinforces it. I think, to a certain extent, it's a matter of how much imagination they have...and how many books or movies they've been exposed to. It's the fanatic that reads one book over and over and over again...the one who has read many different types of books doesn't go overboard on one. Nor have I known many really imaginative types who are violent. Yet if you have little imagination, and got hooked on say, MEIN KAMPF or HANNIBAL...look out.

Some books or movies are deadly to the reader or watcher's sense of right and wrong---but it's because of the viewer's own limitations.


-- Anonymous, February 15, 2001

Ugh. Bone Collector is just awful. I think I saw a less edited version of it (at school), and man, I was just freaking out. The guy I went with kept laughing at me. Jerk.

-- Anonymous, February 16, 2001

Yeah, guys who laugh at me when I am scared at movies are

A: not cute, funny, cool


B: getting laid

-- Anonymous, February 16, 2001

I'm not particularly for or against film violence per se. It depends entirely upon the nature and quantity of the violence in a given film. Gunplay and so forth is stuff I don't usually find violent because it's impersonal (except where it's done on a really huge scale like in The Killer). Stabbing and so forth, where the attacker has to make a personal effort to hurt or kill the attackee, is an altogether different matter. I freak out more at the scene in Dirty Harry when Clint Eastwood knifes the kidnapper than when he shoots him dead at the end. But it's something I take on a case-by- case basis, I don't have hard and fast rules about it.

As for film violence inspiring actual violence, it probably happens, but hardly to the extent that some wowsers would like us to think. I reckon you'll always get a certain percentage of people who will only ever be idiots incapable of determining the difference between truth and reality, but I still think the far bigger majority are responsible, rational and intelligent enough to realise this difference and know that killing people is bad, etc. Did I think the gangsters in Reservoir Dogs looked cool? Hell yes. Did I want to emulate that look myself? Absolutely. Did I want to kill and mutilate people as well? Absolutely not. I know where to draw the line, as I'm sure 99% of film viewers do. Just a pity about the other 1% who always threaten to spoil things for the rest of us...

-- Anonymous, April 18, 2001

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