Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sadism at the Movies

Quote of the Day: "Do you find me sadistic? You know, I bet I could fry an egg on your head right now, if I wanted to. You know, Kiddo, I'd like to believe that you're aware enough even now to know that there's nothing sadistic in my actions. Well, maybe towards those other... jokers, but not you. No Kiddo, at this moment, this is me at my most masochistic."
-Kill Bill
In Film Theory, we're discussing some fairly dense material about a spectator's participation when it comes to watching a movie. It real brain twisting stuff. For example, here's an excerpt from a paper I wrote in response to Kaja Silverman's essay "Suture":

"The shot/reverse shot helps us to find comfort by having our own being replaced by an element in the film. The shot/reverse shot allows us to 1) see something from the point of view of a character, 2) see something from the point of view of an object (she [Silverman] uses the envelope of money in Psycho as an example), or to 3) see something from the point of view of an 'absent other.' This form of gaining comfort is what is referred to as 'suture.' If we consider our perception and our own capabilities of forming a narrative as an extension of our body, it’s easy to see how the surgery analogy fits. I find myself mostly fascinated by the concept of the 'absent other.' One might think that if we are not in the point of view of a tangible character or object we must be in the point of view of the viewer—but this is totally wrong because then we would have total control. Instead, we are guided by this 'other'—'the speaking subject of the cinematic text, a subject which…finds its locus in a cluster of technological apparatuses.' The term I prefer to 'speaking subject' is 'narrator,' because this 'other' is a totally omniscient guide, taking us places that, due to our lack of knowledge of what’s outside the frame, we certainly crave to go, and even allowing us to step away from the view of this 'absent one' and into the shoes of a character of object."

So has your mind been blown? Probably not. Anyway, the whole discussion leads to sadism and masochism, and in the end I'm left wondering if I'll ever be able to enjoy a movie again without worrying about my own participation as a spectator.

It's mostly disconcerting when these readings discuss the ways we give up our own "being," or how our "being" is replaced by elements within the film to ensure our participation. I'm not a film major, I'm an English major, so this material is not as applicable as it is to others in the class (though it may come in handy in my scriptwriting). Still, being an English major, I can't help but notice the existential slant, the questions of our being, though in film theory the discussion is not only about the art form, but the spectator's own relationship to it, how it is a process that "castrates" the spectator by removing his being, and "sutures" it through the narrative process and the manipulation of the spectator's perception.

It gives me the willies.


At 4:58 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

I didn't much care for Kill Bill. I saw American Psycho with my boyfriend and he thought it was awesome, I felt dirty after watching it.


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