Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bullets Flying but Nobody's Dying

I've seen a couple violent movies recently, and I also made some observations. Some of my friends don't like to see the violence. They don't want it in their homes or on their televisions. They live in a rosy little bubble, protected by plastic and ideology and ignorance.

I watched three very different movies:

American History X
: The race-related themes of the movie cut deep with the audience and expose our own issues while telling the story of ever-changing characters and emotions. The movie is graphic with sexual scenes, prison rape, guns, and gangs. I love the movie, and I can't rate the acting high enough. The movie will make you think twice about how you treat people.

Shoot 'Em Up: A movie about... um... shooting people. No real plot, just Clive Owen shooting at the people who are trying to kill him. Oh, and then people being shot... and the two main characters having sex while in the middle of a gunfight... yeah. It's a guy's movie to be certain, and violent as well. It was good for a couple laughs, but in it's absurdity and unrealistic storyline, it was pretty bad.

Young Guns: Hooray for westerns! Yay for men on horses/in saloons/in the outhouse shooting at each other! Billy the Kid and the "Regulators" are heroes for taking the law into their own hands, murdering people, and becoming almost barbaric, but that's okay because it's a western. Nevermind the whole drinking, swearing, womanizing, and more shooting of people...

All three movies have violence. They all involve people dying at the hands of someone else. Gruesome, bloody, and awful. Yet all three movies are from different genres, different time periods, and different settings. They have vastly different characters and plot lines. The violence remains the same.

My friends might avoid American History X while cheering through Young Guns and Shoot 'Em Up. As soon as the violence takes on that historic quality or a slight bit of humor, it's okay. The violence of war, they'd probably say, is fine to watch, too. Why pick and choose? Why allow yourself to see men exploding on a battlefield but not see a gunfight during sex (we had to fast-forward through the sex part because that was "inappropriate"--nevermind the other 90 minutes of the movie). What makes some violence okay and not other violence?

I'm not saying that I'm cool with violence. There is some violence I agree doesn't need to be in movies. But a movie where the violence is the point (such as these three examples), where it becomes the story, I appreciate that the director and editors left it in. It's nice to find a story someone had the guts to share, to write, to make into a movie. Sometimes we have to see the horrible things in life to learn from them and move on.

You have your own thoughts, I'm sure. You might not mind watching heads roll, or you might cover your eyes when bones break. I don't know, and I can't tell you what's right or wrong for you. I want to see the movies, though, see the stories and the pain on character's faces and experience the movie in it's entirety. I will sit through the sex scenes, the gunfights, and the fake deaths. Because, in the end, these movies are about life. We are human, and we have sex, have gunfights, and we die. It's not always pretty. And I don't want to live in a bubble forever.

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