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April 01, 1993 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-04-01

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The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - April 1, 1993- Page 7 u
Blood, syrup and silicone: Violence in movies

by Alison J. Levy
Not since the advent of Hayes
code have moral fanatics tico making
such a fuss over the so-called wave of
"ultra-violence" in recent films. "Bad
Lieutenant" receives the dreaded NC-
17 for its graphic scenes, while hordes
of people reportedly walk out on "Res-
ervoir Dogs" in total horror, leading to
broadcast warnings by the Archbish.op
of Los Angeles. Be afraid. At the same
*time, Lawrence Kasdan's sugar-rich
dessert, "TheBodyguard,"draws flocks
of mindless viewers, and is well on it's
way to becoming one of the top gross-.
ing films of all time. Be very afraid. It
seems the main reasons people are in
such a bunch are 1)a lot of the violence
is in real time and 2) there is a viewer
relationship to the victims. But,with the
status quo in Hollywood, there are a lot
Omore scarythings going on than a few
bullets and red Caro syrup. What we
should really be paying attention to is
the exploitive manner in which women
and minorities are treated in the average
major motion picture.
But first, the issue of so-called ultra-
violence. Witness the case of the ever-
popular "Reservoir Dogs" (warning: if
you haven't seen it and want to, don't
read on). There are a few gunshots, a
couple punches and, yes, a small slash-
ing of the ear. But the problem that
viewers have is that it all takesplace in
real time. In fact, the whole film occurs
in the hour and a half that it takes
dreamy Tun Roth to bleed to death on
the warehouse floor. And in the time it
takes for us to listen to the infectious

rhythm of "Stuck In The Middle With
You," Michael Madsen can cut off
someone's ear and perform a prize-
winning Solid Gold dance. It's not fan-
tasy or science-fiction, it's real.
This brings us to the next problem,
the audience's relationship to the film's
characters. In most films like "Rambo"
etal., Sly runs through the jungle chuck-
ing spears through people, blowing off
their heads and eating their raw hearts
for an appetizer, all in less than 30
seconds. In "Terminator 2" Robert
Patrick sticks his machete /hand through
Witness the case of the
ever-popular 'Reservoir
Dogs.' ... There are a
few gunshots, a couple
punches and, yes, a
small slashing of the
ear. But the problem
that viewers have is
that it all takes place in
real time.
the neck of Edward Furlong's mom
while she drinks milk. Is that violent?
Does anyone say anything about that?
No. Because it all takes place in less
than a minute and a few seconds later
it'sbeenforgottenbecause we've moved
on to the next batch of victims. But,
what would happen if instead of leav-
ing, we stayed with the dying Mom,
gurgling up blood and writhing on the
kitchen floor? All the victims are throw-
away characters.

However, this is not the case with
the new "ultra-violent" films. When
you first see Tim Roth's character dying
in "Reservoir Dogs," there's little sym-
pathy. He's just Mr. Orange, a poor
schmuck who got tagged doing some-
thing illegal. But by the end of the film,
you're on his side because he's Freddy
Moondykeandhe got shot doing some-
thing he really didn't want to do and
now he's your friend. There's even a
small tinge of regret mixed in with all
the glee when Michael Madsen's de-
ranged, yetsensitiveMr. Blondeis taken
out. And even in the last scene, cop
Marvin Ash's severed ear is still visible
on the floor, a reminder of the previous
horror. By the end, the warehouse is
littered with corpses. But, unlike Mr.
Pink, we are unable to grab the dia-
monds and run; we are forced to sit
uncomfortably in the room with six
very dead and somewhat mutilated
corpses.Films like "BonnieandClyde,"
and "Goodfellas" fit the same example.
The most ironic thing about this film is
these characters pay for their sins. All
the violence is justifiable. They aren't
innocent victims like so many other of
the slasher films. Even the Hayes code
agrees with that-
Everyone who's stayed home alone
and had thoughts of Freddy Kruger just
beforehitting the sackknows thefright-
ening powerofthe imagination. Windis
turned into breaking glass and creaks
become the menacing footsteps of a
serial killer. A lot of the violence is left
to our own sickening imagination. For
those who can't watch the "Resevoir

Dogs" ear scene and spend it with their
hands over their eyes, they miss the fact
that the ear slashing is never seen; the
camera pans over to a lighting fixture.
That's it. But it makes you wonder.
Maybe he's hacking out his eyes and
eating them or maybe he's cutting the
poor guy's nose into shreds. The silence
of the screams provided by the duct tape
But what we really
should be taking note
of in Hollywood is the
continuing stereotyping
of women and
minorities in films.
make it even more menacing. During
the second viewing you still wonder:
did he just hack it off or was there a lot
of see-sawing? It's all left up to the
viewer to decide. Perhaps that says
something about the people who find it
unwatchablysick.However, with people
like our good friend Freddy Krueger,
you get to see him plunge his fingers
through his victim's stomach and the
scenes are graphically comforting. You
know which organs are mutilated, and
which ones left in tact. At least it wasn't
his spleen, you know. That wouldreally
But this is the least of the horror
happening in Hollywood. What scares
me is the mass of studio executives who
linetheirwalls with theirHarvardMB A's
and whose film vocabulary consists
solely of the words budget, gross, high-
concept, commercial and points. They
think Montage of Attraction is the new
Sharon Stone film and don't care how
artistically brilliant Martin Scorsese is
as long as his next film is on time, under
budget and contains several sex scenes.
Another annoyance is the millions of
individuals who think that acceptance
toNYU'sTisch School of the Arts alone
will make them thenext Scorsese. They
have no clue about their artistic ances-
tors from Eisenstein to Fellini to Allen.
But not Marty. He has always studied
film, he loves film ,and he preserves
film. These people should be forced to
watch "The Battleship Potemkin" until
they can feel and understand the beauty
of The Odessa Step sequence for them-
But what we really should be taking

note of in Hollywood is the continuing
stereotyping of both women and mi-
norities in films. There's a lot of talk
about the increasing equality but talk is
cheap. If you're Black, you might as
well study the buddy roles and practice
your comedy routine. And if you're a
woman you better have big tits or be
prepared to obtain them somehow: your
choice of silicone or saline. Not to
mention the blatant misogyny of films
like "Carrie." The whole opening se-
quence is pure male fantasy. It's bio-
logically impossible to get your period
in the shower. And, I don't recall frol-
icking around my high-school locker
room, butt-naked and in slow motion.
No one even took showers in my locker

room and we changed into bathing suits
in the bathroom stalls.
The happy-go-lucky slasher films
of the late seventies and early eighties
all had sequential names like "Friday
the Thirteenth 1-13" or "Halloween 7:
The New, New Beginning." Why didn't
anyone call them by their true name,
"Let's KillAllthe Sluts"? In the end, the
Virgin is triumphant for retaining her
purity. You go, girl! I'm nauseous. And
how about the bounty of parts offered to
women? Just look at this year's Acad
emy Awards. They talk aboutthepeople
being crowded out for the Best Actor
category but had to search all over the
world and bad films just to find some-
one to nominate for Best Actress.

tew at



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Sensitive souls Steve Buscemi and Harvey Keitel bonding in the violent yet romantic "Reservior Dogs."


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