Hollywood’s Insatiable Appetite for Torture Porn

Chainsaws, butcher knives, machetes, axes. Such were the
commonly used utensils of horror in slasher films of yesteryear.
Now, with movies like Hostel, Wolf Creek, and
Grindhouse raking it in at the box office, killing off
characters with shiny sharp objects isn’t enough to satisfy
moviemakers’ and moviegoers’ bloodlust. A faux trailer running
between Quentin Tarantino’s and Roberto Rodriguez’s
Grindhouse double-feature shows a cheerleader being
vaginally impaled while jumping on a trampoline. Saw III
has a scene in which a young woman dangles naked from a meat hook.
Ads for the upcoming film Captivity show a scantily clad
Elisha Cuthbert with tubes in her nostrils, slowly being drained of
blood. Dubbed ‘torture porn,’ this new breed of cinema has horror
movie stars — especially women — being killed off in more
gruesome, highly sexualized ways than ever.

‘Sex sells, violence sells. We like to watch. I get it,’ writes
Huffington Post contributor Stacy
Parker Aab, one of many speaking out against the ad campaign for
Captivity. ‘There is just a point though where the
level of sickness is so acute, the pendulum swing[s] so hard in
the wrong direction, that we need a moment of stillness to
witness.’

Joss Whedon, creator of cult TV shows Buffy the Vampire
Slayer
and Firefly, concurs. According to the
Australian, Whedon wrote a letter to
the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rallying
against Captivity‘s promotional material. ‘The advent
of torture-porn and the total dehumanizing not just of women
(though they always come first) but of all human beings has made
horror a largely unpalatable genre.’

The Australian‘s Lynden Barber reports that in response
to the outcry, Captivity‘s production company, After Dark
Films, withdrew the ads. Nevertheless, ticket sales will likely
increase, fueled by the controversy surrounding the distasteful
marketing. ‘Unless the state starts issuing fines for this sort of
thing,’ Josh Tyler writes for
Cinema Blend, ‘expect to see the same
tactic used again on whatever the next torture porn flick
is.’

And expect people to continue filling movie seats. Barber offers
an explanation for viewers’ insatiable appetites for excessive
violence: ‘Clearly some audiences, jaded by graphic violence, are
looking for more extreme thrills… Torture prolongs the suffering
and, for some viewers, the adrenalin.’

Christopher Goodwin writes for the
Times Online about yet another
disturbing aspect of the spate of torture-porn films: many of
the genre’s biggest fans are young adults and teenagers. While
Goodwin notes that even the ‘normally complacent MPAA’ was
stirred to action against Captivity‘s ad campaign, the
group hasn’t used its most feared tactic to keep kids from
seeing such films: the dreaded NC-17 label. ‘An NC-17 rating
would mean that, technically, nobody under 17 could see the
films in a cinema — which is why studios edit to avoid them and
gain R ratings,’ he explains. ‘These allow even young children
to see them as long as they’re accompanied by somebody over 21,
ideally a parent. God help us.’

Regardless of age, experts believe that watching disturbing
footage has psychological repercussions. Goodwin quotes Joanne
Cantor, an internationally recognized specialist on children and
the mass media: ‘A heavy diet of media violence has a tendency to
increase chronic levels of hostility,’ she says, ‘and to lead
people to interpret the world around them as a more hostile and
dangerous place.’

Go there >>
Please Stop Killing Elisha On That Billboard,
Thanks

Go there, too >>
Atrocity Entertainment

And there >>
Public Outcry Kills Torture Porn Marketing
Campaign

And there >>
Sitting Comfortably?

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