Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why I Make Violent Movies

A great Japanese cinematic philosopher who understood man's duality.

One of the very most common criticisms I receive from criticists is "Your movies are morally perverse and too violent". Many of these people are young women who I insulted in the past because I was a troubled young man who modeled his relationships with ladies off Streetfighter-era Sonny Chiba's, but it is an interesting question I thought deserves a through look and an earnest answer.

Deep down, I do not wish or desire to will violence upon any human being, though at some moments of strong emotion I entertain the concept of beating up a few people whose neurosis gets on my nerves or taking a baseball bat to the head of a callous sociopath here and there, but all human beings have moments where they feel like this. Need proof? Read a history book or watch Fox News tonight. I detest human violence thoroughly but am fascinated by it and am repulsed by death but also acknowledge it as a necessary part of our existence. All species must inherently destroy to continue their existence, humans are no exception to this rule even though we are the first to notice and question it. As my cat tears the head off a cute mouse or rabbit, I don't think he questions the morality of what he's done afterward. If you want to get really technical, even vegans are inherent "murderers". The world is balance. Life begets death and death begets life. Just as when all creatures die, they fertilize the soil that allows plants to grow.

A great American philosopher who dared see through society's inherent ridiculousness.

However, humans have taken violence, callousness and selfishness to the next level. We are a walking duality and hypocrisy, a species caught toward the end of a millennial-long adolescence, just as teen-hood for many consists of heart wrenching moments and incredible emotional highs, no species has created so much wondrous culture or thought so deeply of the universe they live in, but no species has also inflicted so much horror, death and destruction upon itself, other species and its environment. We, as a species, are essentially committing mass suicide like Lemmings off a cliff if we keep up behavior like this. We will all die but we can choose to save ourselves and live in peace with ourselves and our environment. It is NOT impossible. This is the human condition and our great duality, we have a choice to make: either choose harmony or destruction.

When I made Little Red Riding Hood and Dream House (and yes, especially The Magic Forest), I was in a particularly troubled time in my life, a quarter-life crisis of sorts, but even then I understood the human duality even if I didn't believe in "the good" enough. Is it really surprising that they are "dark films" anyways with what was going on? Even films that are "violent and nihilistic" even if they don't offer solutions, are at least helpful in pointing out society's problems, they are cinematic "wake up calls" and some are subtle cautions like Dog Day Afternoon whereas others are blunt, stern warnings like Cannibal Holocaust. A bleak PG-13 or R-rated Hollywood film versus an outrageously cruel and nihilistic video nasty is like "your work needs much improvement" versus "your work fucking blows". In most cases, both mean the exact same thing, but one is simply a more polite and socially acceptable way of saying it. Many directors and screenwriters are actually philosophers, even many horror directors. I find George Romero's films, if not exactly upbeat, to be some of the most brilliant philosophy I've ever seen, on par with anything Voltaire, Nietzsche or Sartre ever penned. Perhaps, he'll be looked upon like that in a century or two.

Long before Hostel and Saw, there was Perseus and Medusa.

Dream House
, in particular, was a horror film about something I care about and am frightened by: the subjugation of women to men in society. Perhaps, it was a bit of harsh warning, but it was not a porn flick for people with a bondage and rape fetish. All humans have the capacity for good and bad. If someone came into your house and did heinous things to your family but you survived and had a chance to meet them face to face a short time later, would you not hurt or kill them even though all moral teachings for most of man's history forbids killing other human beings under any circumstances? People, particularly the "religious" justify war and atrocities very easily, but even the Ten Commandments says "Thou Shall Not Kill" and doesn't throw in "under certain circumstances outlined in article A through C, parts 6-8". However, even the kindest people would often strike back at someone shortly after the murder of their child or support an armed conflict if their leaders sweet talk them into it in just the right ways. While many refuse to admit it, some people loathe themselves when they realize that they have a Vader-like "dark side" to their Anakin Skywalker, myself included, but don't. You are not human if you don't have it.

So I don't make violent films because I want to run around on a raping and killing spree like a few have accused me of. I make them because I understand the human duality and am fascinated by it. In real life, some humans are cruel to other humans. Go to the library and read a holocaust book and you'll find things mentioned that cinema could never depict, even in these alleged "violent and Godless" days. Even many of the great myths, particularly the Greek ones like Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, are violent as fuck. If someone filmed the stories in the Old Testament completely "uncensored" the resulting 60 hour film would get an NC-17 without question if the board was even awake by the end of it. If death is inherently a part of life on Earth and violence is still a large part of our history and current state, why the hell SHOULDN'T we be upfront about it and makes films that explore and criticize it? My next film, Alison in Wonderland, will have many moments of violence and nastiness, but also tender moments of joy and sincere sorrow. That is the human condition and depicting that is what storytelling should be about.

1 comment:

Crocodile said...

You really should consider doing some vlogs or something regarding your thoughts on cinema, I think there would be an audience for it.