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Monday, July 26, 2004

Someway Between Thrillers, Psychopaths, and Those Gruesome Pictures

What is thriller actually? What is with this genre? Or is it a genre after all? Horror? Blood? Death? Terror? Mysticism? Psychopath?

Let's just say that this post is about violence, mortality, and cold-blooded murderer—no matter what the categorization is. My little brother (a 12-grader, by the way) is a massive fan of such movies. So am I. With an exception that he likes them in a much higher degree than I do. To make it short, he's able to see any sadistic movie available—while eating, if necessary (well, Faust is not included).

Does that mean he's cold, rude, and even twisted?

For more than 16 years of living under the same roof, I have never seen him caught in criminal problems whatsoever. He seldom uses coercive approach either. And I proudly say that he’s worth the nomination of The Nicest Brother in Indonesian Little Bro Competition (if any).

Do bloodshed-oriented shows have the so-called catharsis function? The channeling of desires and fantasies?

The afore-mentioned statement, I believe, needs to be scientifically proven further. I only agree that everyone has so many sides inside of him. The childlike side. The adult side. And the psychopathy. Whereas behavioral psychology suggests that human mind is initially empty and can be loaded with any conditioning system, I tend to think that we were readily born with complete variations of characters. It is only a matter of personal choices and external influences that some advance than the others.

Then again, let us leave this endless debate to psychologists (and perhaps philosophers). One thing for sure, whether a movie is "educating" or merely exposing cruelty can be judged from the plot of the story. Silence of the Lambs, The Watcher (although Keanu Reeves is somehow too "sweet" to be a psycho), The Bone Collector, Phone Booth, are more intellectually stimulating than Jason X, Halloween, or Freddy vs. Jason. Yes, they all slaughter. However, brainy movies does not rely on blood-splattered-scenes or human mutilation as the center of the story. It is about cunning efforts of revealing the criminal, enforcing justice, and survival spirit. This means, we ought to outsmart the bad guys.

These kinds of movies are not always lead to aggressive messages. Stephen King's Dreamcatcher, for example. Some gore sights are there but the friendship touch is easily found. Even Hannibal occasionally depicts Lecter's "human" side. Natural Born Killers is of the extremes—at least, it employs a different stance which comes from the point of view of the executioner.

It is a pity that some still put brutality and terror in front. Texas Chainsaw Massacre could be a success without detail visualization of distasteful torturing scenes. American Psycho fails to bring in fear, unless some of the illogical settings were removed. Swimfan too, would be much better to enjoy if only the editors paid more attention to their job.

Lastly, seeing movies on people butchery does not always entertain. Going to movies is an entertainment, but we don't necessarily take the obligation to smile, giggle, or laugh afterwards. And fierce movies are probably not attended to on account of their maliciousness. Valentine, Scream, and I Know What You Did Last Summer are more like babes and hunks line-ups than movies about killing or being killed. Perhaps my little brother fancies Kill Bill as a result of his devotion to Uma Thurman?


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