film and society

Don’t blame Old Boy.

Posted on April 19, 2007. Filed under: film and society, My Musings |

I should have known better than to try to avoid any additional coverage of v-tech this week.

During a break, I hopped onto one of my favorite blogs, LA Weekly’s – Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily, hoping that I could find some early box office predictions on Spiderman 3. I found that, but I also found a post reporting on all the movie comparisons being made to Cho’s manifesto. I’m not going to bother to link to any of it because… well, I don’t want to.

Finke (and many other journalists/bloggers) have identified and chosen to crucify one of my favorite Korean films, Old Boy. Several sources are claiming that one of Cho’s images directly mimics a still from the movie.

Fine. So What?

Finke says,

“I just don’t understand how critics with even a shred of humanity keep supporting films that celebrate violence in all its awfulness. Makes me nauseous.”

…So now, if you have good taste in films, your humanity is called into question? Finke is not the only blogger hopping on the frequently visited violent-movies-are-to-blame bandwagon this week and that is one aspect of tragedy in general that bothers me – The sudden urge to suppress anything in society that can’t be sanitized. We are suddenly uncomfortable with anything that reminds us, in pictures or in words, of what inexplicable acts we are capable of.

Are we forgetting that one of first (and most groundbreaking) films The Birth of a Nation – was incredibly violent and racist? Am I a racist warmonger because I can appreciate the artistic merit of this film?

Why is suddenly considering Old Boy to be a well made film a sign of questionable values?

Films, for me, serve as society’s ultimate therapeutic device. Through films, people can escape reality. We can drive a car in the sky. Ride a bike with an alien across the moon. Save the world. Through films, we can explore aspects of our own personality that we do not understand. We can examine the darker parts of humanity – to ingest, and then exit the theater, having experienced a pleasurable release that is unique to living vicariously through an imagined world. Books work in the same way, as does music, and most of the arts. So does religion.

But every person who goes to church and listens to a sermon doesn’t head off to start the next Inquisition.

So what a fantastic idea – every time something horrific happens, let’s blame the Arts. Let’s morph into a communist state where artistic expression is tightly controlled through family value committees. Will people still kill? Yes. But at least some false sense of security will have been established and we can all walk around, nodding to each other with an unspoken understanding that as long as no one is allowed to write or film a story about violence, somehow everything will be fine.

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