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 Posted:   Dec 12, 2013 - 9:47 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Comedy by its nature is edgy and exploring taboos is one of the ways it works. No subject matter is off limits; how it is handled determines whether it is funny or not.

 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 2:16 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

What about stylised violence in such films as 'Mr and Mrs Smith' with Anje and Brad? Or 'Wars of the Roses?'

In such films violence is an exaggerated METAPHOR for certain more competitive and combative elements that lie under EVERY marriage? That's clever.


The fact is that Hollywood, the Babylon that it is, thrives on cheap sensationalism, and many forms of violence are heightened up. Is the violence in 'Where Eagles Dare' more acceptable than that in 'Schindler's List'? Is the violence in 'Passion of the Christ' somehow sanctified? The whole damned lot of it is of course open to abuse in the individual psyches of some viewers. People who'd sniff at James Bond's comic-book Walter Mitty violence would accept the killings in 'Macbeth' or Richard III' as exalted. The opening of 'Saving Private Ryan' is a worthy tribute to a generation to some people, and vicarious obscenity and exploitation to others. And some use the former as an excuse to revel in the macabre S&M of the latter. People aren't pure. The truth is, it's both.

Domestic violence is no more or less questionable than any other kind. And in comedy, no more or less funny.

But the impression I get about the US is that although there exist the highest practitioners of irony there, like Woody Allen, there's also a vast multitude who polarise comedy and tragedy and can't mix them. In Europe, there are many more people in the mid-band who aren't quite so polarising about it.

It depends how it's handled. And nobody's mentioned the over-the-top absurd satire of violence like Monty Python's doctor's waiting room sketch or the late Peter Cook as a serial killer in that Comic Book sketch etc.. It depends what you're SAYING, and what it's REPRESENTING.

Every young professional couple recognises the psychology in 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith', it's every marriage really, and they realise the violence is just metaphor. Hopefully.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 2:27 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

You've made some excellent points here, but you mostly discuss drama and the effects of violence in drama. Think of Shakespeare's "Coriolanus"!

And psychologists are drawing ever closer links between social violence and popular culture. My husband's cousin was a leading London adolescent psychiatrist until he retired, and he'd written books. He stayed with us on holiday and we discussed this issue and he said, for him, there was absolutely no question about the link between violent behaviour and popular culture. He said it was a no-brainer to refuse to see the connection.

Given that, it's not a huge leap to see that people might view comic violence in the same way. After all, to discern the 'messages' you suggest about Mr. and Mrs. Smith requires a better than average understanding of metaphor and psychological connection to marriage. There are vast numbers of people for whom that ability is impossible and they only perceive things on a visceral and basic level. That's one of the problems. And the elephant in the room.

Never before in human history have so many people consumed the same kind of material in the same way, irrespective of background or culture.

 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 6:54 AM   
 By:   Jehannum   (Member)

You've made some excellent points here, but you mostly discuss drama and the effects of violence in drama. Think of Shakespeare's "Coriolanus"!

And psychologists are drawing ever closer links between social violence and popular culture. My husband's cousin was a leading London adolescent psychiatrist until he retired, and he'd written books. He stayed with us on holiday and we discussed this issue and he said, for him, there was absolutely no question about the link between violent behaviour and popular culture. He said it was a no-brainer to refuse to see the connection.

Given that, it's not a huge leap to see that people might view comic violence in the same way. After all, to discern the 'messages' you suggest about Mr. and Mrs. Smith requires a better than average understanding of metaphor and psychological connection to marriage. There are vast numbers of people for whom that ability is impossible and they only perceive things on a visceral and basic level. That's one of the problems. And the elephant in the room.

Never before in human history have so many people consumed the same kind of material in the same way, irrespective of background or culture.


Yep. In the past, before TV, there was no violence or misogyny. My wife's uncle's brother's daughter's cousin's husband told me so. And he's written internet posts on the subject.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 7:06 AM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

I'm not sure whether hitting a woman with a quasi professional punch can "teach" or "enlighten" us about anything, except perhaps that domestic violence was and is still somehow 'sanctioned' as a form of social control. Yep, it would be in some middle eastern countries, as Joan suggested.


What I'm referring to is all of the mistakes that exist in mankind's real life history--that we can now perceive as mistakes--being used as a teaching tool. Otherwise, we can never learn what to avoid.

On a related note...
I think it's important to keep the comments on track by keeping them confined to domestic violence as it pertains to entertainment (as opposed to real life domestic violence). Talking about the former is probably okay, while the latter would probably lead to eventual threadlock. It's not my thread, of course, but I would like to see the discussion continue--even if only in principle.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 7:21 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TO JEHANNUM-Cute, your sarcasm is very true. Someone of dubious thought always have a scapegoat for something. I know I said something like this before on another thread. What we create and what we watch in a creative sense often will have something to do with ourselves. In my life on both sides I know it does and that's why I am happy to say I love the ending of THE DEVIL'S BRIDE-68-, CURSE OF THE DEMON-58 and so many others and do not like the ending of ROSEMARY'S BABY-68.There is no sin in anything into itself only what you do with it. So for that reason I do not condemn the art of filmmaking or music as a whole.There is good and bad in everything.Do the right thing.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 7:42 AM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

I can't think that anything I wrote would get this thread locked, but Octoberman, you are correct about this topic. I am one of the posters who deviated from the "funny or entertainment" factor which was the main point of this topic.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 7:54 AM   
 By:   Octoberman   (Member)

I can't think that anything I wrote would get this thread locked, but Octoberman, you are correct about this topic. I am one of the posters who deviated from the "funny or entertainment" factor which was the main point of this topic.


I hold your comments in quite high esteem, Joan. And even if they stray, they are measured and intelligent--always of value.
It is for posts such as yours that I don't want this baby to be thrown out with the bathwater should others start to misbehave and raise the ire of our Mod.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 8:22 AM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Thanks Octoberman. For Christmas, I'm going to adopt you and put you in my will.

 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 9:51 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

One could ask then, is domestic violence ever entertaining? What I mean is violence and rape is often presented as a "dramatic" narrative for a fictional story. Education and enlightenment is often not the reason for it's inclusion.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 13, 2013 - 6:44 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Yes I believe anything can be entertaining if it is done in a proper moral manner.Both SCHINDLER'S LIST AND HENRY were very depressing morbid films but that is what made then acceptable in a moral sense.It's the lighthearted ones I wonder sometimes because nothing is more destructive then a fatal attraction vibe.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 14, 2013 - 3:22 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

I'm not sure whether hitting a woman with a quasi professional punch can "teach" or "enlighten" us about anything, except perhaps that domestic violence was and is still somehow 'sanctioned' as a form of social control. Yep, it would be in some middle eastern countries, as Joan suggested.


What I'm referring to is all of the mistakes that exist in mankind's real life history--that we can now perceive as mistakes--being used as a teaching tool. Otherwise, we can never learn what to avoid.

On a related note...
I think it's important to keep the comments on track by keeping them confined to domestic violence as it pertains to entertainment (as opposed to real life domestic violence). Talking about the former is probably okay, while the latter would probably lead to eventual threadlock. It's not my thread, of course, but I would like to see the discussion continue--even if only in principle.



Once we've decided whether domestic violence can be funny or entertaining, of course, we'll have to move on to workplace violence, bullying in schools, violence on the sports field and other situations. Each of these can involve a sudden, out of the blue, betrayal of trust resulting in injury or death. Whatever one feels about domestic violence should replicate elsewhere, and I'm not sure why this one aspect should be highlighted.

My own response is inconsistent and depends on too many factors to be able to say: this is acceptable but this isn't. It's simply a feeling I might or might not get at the time. Is it always funny or entertaining? No. Is it possible to be? Yes, of course. What's the difference between the two? That's too slippery to pin down.

What I am pretty sure about is that it shouldn't have special treatment from the arbiters of what is acceptable in entertainment compared with the other situations that I mentioned at the start of my post.

TG

 
 Posted:   Dec 14, 2013 - 9:14 PM   
 By:   Adm Naismith   (Member)

Jackie Gleason based nearly a whole career (or at least one hugely successful sitcom) on the threat of beating up his wife. A lot of people seemed to like that.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 14, 2013 - 10:16 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Tall Guy, many people on this thread have expressed antipathy towards domestic violence in comedy. You can call them "arbiters" of what is acceptable: I prefer to call them "audiences". And they'll vote with their feet.

I happen to think a lot of the Chaplin silent films aren't funny either, with their naive pratfalls and knock-about humour, but there is also a humanity in many of them which has stood the test of time. Chaplin didn't ever engage in gratuitous brutality like so much modern cinema, though his humour was quite cartoonish at times.

There is a famous George Cukor film, "Born Yesterday", from 1950, with Judy Holliday, William Holden and Broderick Crawford. The film is ostensibly a comedy but Crawford bashes Holliday and that scene still very greatly disturbs me and prevents me from watching the film more often than I would like. Holliday's character is "Billy" and she's a victim of domestic violence until Holden intervenes and shows her the path to freedom via education - Beethoven, books and ideas. Only then does she gain the strength to leave her violent partner.

The comedy and tragedy of the film never sit together comfortably with me.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 15, 2013 - 4:34 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Tall Guy, many people on this thread have expressed antipathy towards domestic violence in comedy. You can call them "arbiters" of what is acceptable: I prefer to call them "audiences". And they'll vote with their feet.

I happen to think a lot of the Chaplin silent films aren't funny either, with their naive pratfalls and knock-about humour, but there is also a humanity in many of them which has stood the test of time. Chaplin didn't ever engage in gratuitous brutality like so much modern cinema, though his humour was quite cartoonish at times.

There is a famous George Cukor film, "Born Yesterday", from 1950, with Judy Holliday, William Holden and Broderick Crawford. The film is ostensibly a comedy but Crawford bashes Holliday and that scene still very greatly disturbs me and prevents me from watching the film more often than I would like. Holliday's character is "Billy" and she's a victim of domestic violence until Holden intervenes and shows her the path to freedom via education - Beethoven, books and ideas. Only then does she gain the strength to leave her violent partner.

The comedy and tragedy of the film never sit together comfortably with me.


I didn't make myself terribly clear - we're the consumers of entertainment, and the arbiters that I meant are those who greenlight the comedy shows or films and make them available for consumption. Who decide what we can see and who therefore guide what we then sit in judgment upon.

Domestic violence in real life is never funny - it ruins lives and scars children. Making that funny in fiction is quite a task but it's achievable. What's more slippery is where to draw the line. Gallows humour is a real phenomenon and the line will be different for everyone, and will even shift according to circumstances. If the underlying question is: should it be banned? - then hell no. That's the thin end of a dangerous wedge. You're right about voting with the off button. if someone goes too far it'll turn people off and lead to an adjustment in future content. But that applies to every form of fictional violence and calamity. Domestic violence is but one slice of negativity and shouldn't in my opinion overshadow or be treated differently from equally damaging forms of trauma.

TG

 
 Posted:   Dec 15, 2013 - 7:50 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

It is a slippery slope regardless if I think something is funny or in bad taste.

When I saw Independence Day it was kinda cool seeing aliens blow up buildings. (for a special effects freak) After 9/11 I didn't find mass destruction even in a fictional sense so cool anymore. Kinda makes me feel awkward when I see it. Yet summer after summer we have major motion pictures where huge buildings or whole city blocks collapse. I can't imagine a 9/11 survivor finding this kind of exposition entertaining.

So "funny" (ie: Entertaining) is based on a persons unique perspective in life. If you can't relate to the real world consequences it could be funny. Many black comedies rely on people not having real life associations with the content they presented. (One of the big ones being hostage taking)

Getting back to domestic violence I was really disturbed with the kidnapping and physical abuse of the child in Ransom. I didn't find it entertaining what so ever, or the kind of subject I wanted to watch for entertainment purposes.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 15, 2013 - 12:55 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Thanks Tall Guy and Solium for those thought-provoking responses. I think it's a discussion worth having.

 
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