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A Social Conscience

April 28th, 2010 by btrachtenberg100

The idea that part of the thrill from watching a film, particularly one which exploits the body, of vicariously experiencing a kind of pleasure is something that is very fetishistic and potentially jarring when one analyzes these triggers. Linda Williams’ article delves into interesting points regarding a spectrum of body genres that are chastised for their sensationalist nature without taking into account the various conflicting components that trigger the psychological effect which continues to draw in an audience. She creates a spectrum upon she rates the audience appeal as well as participation. Pornography being appealing to the active male, weepies appeal to the passive female. Most interesting is the horror film that plays with gender creating a sort of androgyny that appeals to both groups and reflects a target audience still struggling to formulate a personal identity. Films that deal with the body and manipulation of emotional states due to the body in the grips of an intense sensation characterize perverse sadomasochism. While I agree to a certain extent that the act of submitting oneself to experience fear, or lust, or sadness is what society would construe as perversity, the root of it’s appeal is in it’s cathartic function. Society puts so much pressure on people to follow the rules and costumes that people become conflicted when their minds propose a thought to consciousness that conflicts with societies beliefs. The safety of the cinema is reflected in the fantasy element that combines the presupposition of these mental states with the possibility of what will happen. The human component of the audience is a contemporary one. The variation of formulas within genres over the years is a response to changes in society. The cinema reacts to the world, just as the world reacts to the cinema, its part of the social consciousness. Moreover I find the cinema represents the unconscious part of society. A part that when it becomes too prominent and direct in its message which violates what’s acceptable, is immediately tried and repressed. The horror cinema allows us to indulge in the sex depicted while objectively pleasuring from the knowledge of the conventions of the genre that they will die and it is fun because you are really safe.
On a side note I feel that may have been a sub-textual message in “AVATAR”, in terms of trying of trying to the technology of the film that puts one safely in the body of a superior being. If so would we be able to make a new category out of the excessive in terms of exploiting complex computer technology in developing new ways to manipulate the body onscreen? They are already considering using the same technology to resurrect dead stars such as Bruce Lee, Humphrey Bogart, Marilyn Monroe, or even make another Indiana Jones film with Harrison Ford looking 35.

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6 Responses to ' A Social Conscience '

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  1.   Kam said,

    on May 4th, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I wonder if Linda Williams considers thrillers when she talks about body genres. It’s an entirely different kind of perversion when certain films ask the audience to relate to psychotic killers. It’s a question of whether watching something like “Peeping Tom” makes you somehow complicit in the actions of the murderer even as they leave you recoiling in disgust and horror. And what about revenge movies? They too can be deeply involving and slightly sinister as they ask you to root for someone’s life to end. I know I felt pretty sick to my stomach watching “Old Boy,” especially after the big reveal at the end.


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