Postmorbid Condition

Category: Entertainment

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The Postmorbid Condition: 

The Postmorbid Condition Vivian Sobchack Pages 377-381

Depiction of violence in late 60s and early 70s films: 

Depiction of violence in late 60s and early 70s films Focused on violent actions “close-up” Stylized, balletic, aestheticized, transcendent Gave meaning and order to random violence “long, lingering gazes at carnage and ballets of slow motion that conferred on violence a benediction and the grace of a cinematic ‘caress’” (377)

Examples: Peckinpah and Penn: 

Examples: Peckinpah and Penn trailer

Violence in American films today:: 

Violence in American films today: “More interested in the presence of violence than in its meaning” No transcendence of senseless violence No ‘caress’—simply ‘carelessness’ Violence is depicted with no benediction, grace, or significance No concern shown for mortality or ‘fragility of the flesh’ Increasing noise, stimulation, and sheer quantity tries to compensate for a lack of meaning

Examples: Tarantino and Stone: 

Examples: Tarantino and Stone Trailer Trailer

An exception…: 

An exception…

New technologized view of bodies : 

New technologized view of bodies Result of special effects Increasingly hyperbolic and quantified As much about ‘more’ as about violence More blood, more gore, more victims Began with new generation of slasher/ spatter horror films But too much ‘too much’ led to an ‘ironic reflexivity’; e.e. excess carnage became funny

Examples: Scream and sequels: 

Examples: Scream and sequels

Results of heightened reflexivity and irony: 

Results of heightened reflexivity and irony Moral ambiguity: absence of critique More care shown for film style than substance: bodies are simply ‘squandered’ not ‘captured’ Excess + hyperbole = style In the ‘postmodern’ moment, excessive violence is not tragic but absurd Tarantino: doesn’t take violence “seriously,” considers it ‘funny/outrageous’

In recent films, violence…: 

In recent films, violence… Functions to fill screen space, instead of narrative Provides situations for ‘wisecracks’ and ‘devaluation’ (e.g. Arnold-isms) Is similar to comic-book panels and ‘ballooned’ violence (ZAP!) Means only body count: more violence is all that counts

The hero is whoever can survive the most violence: 

The hero is whoever can survive the most violence

“Grotesque Realism” (Mikhail Bakhtin): 

“Grotesque Realism” (Mikhail Bakhtin) Cinema’s devaluation of mere human flesh may be a satiric critique of our violent culture “Crisis of the body/masculinity” Technology renders men powerful and uncontrollable, but also powerless and controlled by technology Body as technology: “altered by technology, enabled by technology, disabled by technology”

Violence in society: 

Violence in society Felt to be commonplace, omnipresent “Senseless, random violence pervades our lives” Our culture exists without a moral context and within a condition of extreme relativism “Violence, like shit, happens” General sense of helplessness, not despair

Violence in society and films…: 

Violence in society and films… Is sensed--and appreciated--as senseless Our ‘postmodern condition’ is really a ‘postmortem condition’ “there is a kind of meta-sensibility at work here: life, death and the movies are a ‘joke’ or an ‘illusion’ and everybody’s in on it” (380) Violence = image & spectacle

Pain and suffering: 

Pain and suffering Unlike the ‘twitching’ bodies in Bonnie and Clyde, the bodies in recent films are simply ‘dummies’: detached and distant Films that do portray pain, and give sense to the senseless violence, are hard to watch This violence has meaning, moral context, and ‘reality’ Close-up, heart-felt, recognizable

Examples: Beloved, Affliction, and…: 

Examples: Beloved, Affliction, and… Trailer

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