I went to see Watchmen today. This is not surprising, except maybe that it took so long for me to do so. It was a good movie, also not surprising. In fact, I'd call the movie almost perfect, the issues so tiny and minute they can hardly be said to have occurred at all.

The conversation that the usher had with the couple behind me wasn't surprising either. Apparently some people bring their kids to R rated movies (if you didn't know this, you missed the 80s and 90s), some people also leave movies halfway through due to explicit sex scenes, and if you make a Venn diagram the two have significant overlap.

The surprising moment came immediately after the very explicit sex scene in the movie, and bloomed fully once the movie ended. It's not the scene itself that was surprising or anything that came before it, but rather that parents waited until that moment to decide to leave.

It's not that there are sex scenes beforehand, but that there are scenes of such horrific violence I would pause before I let someone in college watch them. In fact, I can think of many college friends who would be shocked at and cross with me were I to subject them to such barbarity. Many of those moments were truly gruesome.

It is, I think, indicative of the state of our culture that a bloodstain on the ceiling including a dangling, half-exploded arm followed immediately by scenes of women showered in blood doesn't warrant a quick exit for the sake of the children, but a couple of people engaging in an activity practiced by offendees themselves (I mean, they do have kids) is somehow worthy of their ire. It's nonsense.

I'm not advocating Japanese-like acceptance of sexual deviancy, but I am saying that we have our priorities utterly backwards. Everyone should recoil violently when someone is brutally murdered, not just during sex.


360 Trooper said...

This is something peculiar to America. Europe, like Japan, is much more accepting of depicting sexuality than it is accepting of violence. As a society Americans maintain two, arguably mutually exclusive, identities. One is that of a Christian nation founded on an interpretation of Christian ethics (how Christian or biblical they are is a different debate). Another is the warrior mythos we've built around ourselves. The American icon of heroism is the cowboy, and not the real world ranch hand but the gunslinger.

Our warrior mythos makes violence acceptable, while our (pseudo-)Christian ethos makes sex deplorable. Our society is conditioned to support the violent option by the media. One could argue that this is a result of violence being the easiest conflict (and therefore, drama) to depict in media. But other countries and cultures don't lionize the violent solution the way we do. It is an uniquely American idea that any hero who chooses to think and talk his way out of trouble is weak instead of smart. I was going to say "clever" rather than "smart", but that has it's own baggage associated with this. There are heroes in American fiction who would talk their way out of something rather than busting heads, but they're always dishonest scoundrels. The only honest hero is the one willing to get bloody.

This is purely my own observations since I can't even begin to imagine how we got here. Other countries have more violent media and more violent histories, yet we as a people are more violent than all of them.

Phyvo said...

Insert parallels to Roman Empire here. The Colosseum itself continued even into the Christian emperors because of its extreme popularity.

Another thing I'd note is the simple prevalence of "hero" movies in general. That is, and flick (usually a guy flick) where by some combination of intelligence and/or violence one man manages to destroy the evil ones.

These tend to be really popular with at least one click of guys I know. V for Vendetta especially I think is overrated.

Maybe since reading Watchmen my suspension of disbelief for "hero" movies has simply been exploded.