The Master Shot–What is Gratuitous Film Violence?

In this episode of The Master Shot, I ask what people mean when they say a movie is gratuitously violent.

Is it the blood? The act itself? What is the context for film violence, and when can it be acceptable?

This video lecture, and the contents within, are protected by Fair Use for Educational Purposes.

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  • Terry Barr

    Excellent analysis, esp. on Tarantino and Gibson. Torture-Porn, exactly!

  • Terry Barr

    Excellent analysis, esp. on Tarantino and Gibson. Torture-Porn, exactly!

  • http://culturemass.com/tech-science Nate Humphries

    Hmm…Very, very interesting.

    Since I’d watched “The Passion of the Christ” as a Christian, I never really thought about what it would look like for others. I analyzed it based on my own knowledge and beliefs, which obviously had a very different effect. I always saw it as the most realistic depiction of what Jesus went through, adding at least that uniqueness to the cornucopia of media about Him. But you’re right – if you don’t have a more extensive backstory or knowledge about Jesus (“The Passion” does give some backstory, but not very much), the focus invariably comes to rest on the violence itself, and perhaps injustice as well.

    I’ve always been a fan of well-done violence, because I’d rather know the truth about something than a cleverly-disguised falsity. That’s why I enjoyed “Saving Private Ryan” – from what I read and heard, it’s one of the most realistic depictions of World War II (at least certain parts of it). I’d rather see a good depiction of what soldiers had to go through (as least as good a depiction as could be done) than simply imagine some kind of reality in my own head.

    But I think you bring up a good point about artists’ context and intentions as well. That makes the discussion even more complicated, but it does go in the right direction.

    Great stuff!

  • http://culturemass.com/tech-science Nate Humphries

    Hmm…Very, very interesting.

    Since I’d watched “The Passion of the Christ” as a Christian, I never really thought about what it would look like for others. I analyzed it based on my own knowledge and beliefs, which obviously had a very different effect. I always saw it as the most realistic depiction of what Jesus went through, adding at least that uniqueness to the cornucopia of media about Him. But you’re right – if you don’t have a more extensive backstory or knowledge about Jesus (“The Passion” does give some backstory, but not very much), the focus invariably comes to rest on the violence itself, and perhaps injustice as well.

    I’ve always been a fan of well-done violence, because I’d rather know the truth about something than a cleverly-disguised falsity. That’s why I enjoyed “Saving Private Ryan” – from what I read and heard, it’s one of the most realistic depictions of World War II (at least certain parts of it). I’d rather see a good depiction of what soldiers had to go through (as least as good a depiction as could be done) than simply imagine some kind of reality in my own head.

    But I think you bring up a good point about artists’ context and intentions as well. That makes the discussion even more complicated, but it does go in the right direction.

    Great stuff!