Sunday, 23 May 2010

The art of blogging

The brew has been up and running a while now, and much to my surprise, people have started making requests/suggestions for content. One friend said she'd like it if the Brew included "random waffling- but it has to be funny", instead of just reviews; another felt I should update it more often; and another thought I should complete the personal profile. My first response to these requests was "Bugger off- this is MY blog" but then my essentially pleasant and reasonable nature reasserted itself and I thought, "Well, if they're actually taking the time to read it, maybe I should try to accommodate them. So I will attempt humorous waffling, and update more frequently (BTW, a heads up, I'm going to see Women Beware Women at the National Theatre on Weds so I'll be updating about that on Friday. Side bar- "Heads up" is a phrase I seem to have acquired recently, I think from US tv shows, but I quite like it and can't think of a Brit equivalent, what do other people think?) I may or may not do the profile thingy, not keen on those. They remind me of those awful questions you get asked sometimes in job interviews, where they say "tell me about yourself" which is supposed to make you relax and ease into interview mode, but actually just winds me up cos how am I supposed to convey the richness of my life in 30 seconds, and why does it matter anyway when what they really want to know is can I do the job?
I think I'm more in the mood for a rant than a waffle. I've been feeling really grumpy for several days, I blame Luther. Let me vent my spleen. I never thought I'd be turning into Mary Whitehouse, but really I was outraged by last Tuesday's episode of Luther on BBC1. I've been giving Luther a go, cos of Idris Elba, who is in The Wire. I've been having a love affair with The Wire on DVD, (Martin too, it's been a kind of menage a trois). But Luther has been a HUGE disappointment and a waste of the 3hrs I've invested in it so far. Not only has it got crappy storylines, and dreadful dialogue, but otherwise excellent actors (Paul McGann, Saskia Reeves) are miscast, and deliver their lines with an air of "How the hell did I end up in this shite?".
But this week, the show went too far. The crappy storyline was about an occultist bookseller/serial killer who abducted women and tortured them horribly. I can't remember the actor's name, but the serial killer was played by this Welsh guy, who always plays intellectual, creepy psychopaths (no, it isn't Anthony Hopkins). He played an ancient vampire in Being Human.
Anyhow, one particular scene focused on a bound and gagged women, alive and terrified inside a chest freezer, whilst alongside her the serial killer drinks a glass of what the viewer is meant to assume is her blood. Showing an image like this was so unnecessary to the story line, and could've been done in much subtler ways, and I had to wonder at the director's/writer's motivation at including this scene. Where they trying to appeal to the sensation starved and gore hungry among us? Are they trying to frighten women by saying look what monsters lurk in the shadows, waiting for you? Or do they themselves enjoy these images? Is violence against women so completely commonplace and acceptable nowadays that it can appear unquestionned on prime time tv? Imagine the furore if it had featured an animal undergoing such abuse.

Since I was little, and ran out of a cinema in tears when a horse got hurt in a scene in a Herbie film, people have tried to console me by saying "Don't get upset, it's not real". But the problem is, it is real. Ok, they're actors, it's synthetic blood and the woman in the chest freezer probably climbed out and went home for her tea, feeling like she'd done a good day's work. But the image is real, and now indelibly drawn in my mind. Plus there are real women out there who are kept imprisoned and tortured by psychopaths, whose suffering is trivialised by programmes like this. Years ago, I read this book called Less than Zero, by Brett Easton Ellis, and I HATED it. The people in it were so numbed by wealth and privilege, and by having it all at a young age, that they could only get their kicks by causing extreme pain and violence to others. When I look around and see the routine violence and cruelty that feature so strongly in what passes for culture these days, I feel like I'm living in the world of Less than Zero, and I don't like it one bloody bit.


clobags said...

Hey! I didn't see the scene you're referring to but have too invested 3 hours of my life in Luther and am also thinking there's something a bit not right about it. Sub-plots, crazy characters and trendy greenish colouring to the film could add up to some better quality Tuesday night viewing- instead it all just seems a bit sensationalist. I think maybe the people who made Spooks had something to do with it? That might account for the high level of bridges and other landmarks in London scenes... At least with Spooks you were fully aware it was riveting nonsense you were watching. Hmm. Will give it another this week though.

(ps I have no idea how to 'select a profile' to post my comment so have no idea if you'll know who posted this!!)

mia said...

The largest and healthiest proportion of the book industry, the thriller and crime dept, relies on the torture and abuse of (most often) women to sell books. The serial torturer has become a commodity.

It really disturbs me that rape and torture are being more and more "sensationialsed" and used to sell "product". As you said it's usually against women: there'd be outcry if it was towards an animal, and it would never get aired in the first place if it was a child.

It's an easy route for an author to get their hardened woman character: the angry revengeful women who's purpose in life is to cleverly exact excruiatingly well-planned revenge start on their career path of cruelty by being raped and/or tortured themselves. Women have to be given a reason to maim, whereas to men it comes naturally... People are more shocked when cruelty is carried out by a woman so they make good characters.

And how many films are there out there where torture is central to the plot? I can't understand why people go and watch films like the Saw series where the basis is watching people being tortured. Cinemagoers have always got their kicks from being scared, but now they're being sold torture, and considering Saw 5 was just released (and Thorpe park has a fucking Sawride!) they're loving it. How can anyone be so flippant in attitude to torture?

Maybe the common hobby for many readers/cinemagoers of fictional torture as a leisure activity horrifies me so much as I'm aware of how it's happening in the real world. Now. I'm a member of Amnesty International and support various other charities (MAP, KHRP, and Tibetan and Burmese charities) that are involved in human rights. But it's not large breasted women in their knickers at the receiving end, so the vast majority of the viewing and reading public don't give a shit.

What I'd like is for all the people who go to the cinema to view shite like Saw to be made to watch Fire Under the Snow ( instead.

An adjustment of attitude to torture is needed for all those who are happy to use it, and view it, as a plot device.

And shame on all the decisionmakers employing it as a ratings aid.