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Is That Art?

This is the question that is always posed to “offensive” media, especially movies. I am certainly no prude and I am not Siskel or Ebert but I do have an opinion on this (surprise!). In my opinion, it really has to do with what the piece is trying to accomplish. Shock for shock’s sake is not art, in my opinion.

Take films such as “The Human Centipede.’ I don’t see what this film – or films like it – would be trying to accomplish. To gross the audience out? What is the point? To show the “doctor’s” madness? Or is it just someone who said, “Oh my GOD, I just thought of the most disgusting thing ever! Let’s make it into a movie and see what people can take”? The “Full Segment” sequel to ‘The Human Centipede’ is apparently even worse and far more graphic. Again, what is the point of it? To shock? Just to shock and nothing more? Then why bother?

Now, I love horror, both in print and visual media and as Stephen King often says, “I am not here to teach you anything. I want to scare you. If you want to learn something, go to school.” However, it’s about how entertaining something is, how emotionally involved in it you can become. It is just too hard to become emotionally involved in films such as this. If there are too many shocking scenes, the audience disconnects in self-defense. If the victims are not presented in a sympathetic way, the audience never connects in the first place.

Such as a piece like ‘A Serbian Film.’ There were just too many shocking and wholly unpleasant things in this movie for people to really enjoy it. And, grotesque or not, the point of a movie is for people to enjoy it. Because people enjoy being scared. They enjoy being made uncomfortable. They even enjoy being shocked. However, this can be easily overdone. If the audience is made too uncomfortable and are unable to recover from it, or are never able to connect with the characters in the first place, the film has failed in it’s intentions and has ceased to be entertaining. It has become just some shocking or disgusting images on the screen. The eyes see it and the mind reacts but it cannot become involved.

Then there are films like the cult “Scrapbook” that are touted by fans as being “Beyond the average movie experience” and “Gritty and real” but which are really just awful films. There is a difference between “gritty and real” and “so boring it’s unbearable” or “looks like it was filmed by 7th graders.” War documentaries are gritty and real but they are not boring and pointless.  “Independent film” doesn’t have to mean “sub-quality work accepted.” There are MANY independent filmmakers who do fabulous work. So to answer the question, “Is that art?” my answer is no. Not in regard to these type of films.

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6 responses

  1. Well I haven’t seen “The Human Centipede” but I’ve heard enough about it. Shock that entertains me is forgivable; shock that repels me is just plain rude. I saw a film, a few years ago, titled “Shortbus.” A friend thought the movie was my cup of tea. I’m no prude, but I was rather disgusted by what I saw. It was porn disguised as an art movie. Porn isn’t my thing, but it’s got it’s place in the genre. It doesn’t pretend to be what it’s not. Films that lie piss me off.

    June 9, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    • I agree. It is the attempt at masquerade that bothers and offends me.

      June 9, 2011 at 11:20 pm

  2. Alister

    It’s not that they’re referred to as “art”, because by definition, art can literally mean any idea that is come to fruition in a visual manner. It’s just the simple fact that the movies BARELY lack any substance (like Human Centipede). Hell, the remakes of these classic horror films may be shitty. They may not live up to the originals, but at least they HAD that sense of realism (minus Jason’s machete literally disappearing halfway into someone’s head in the Friday remake) and depth/substance.
    Now I can see Serbian Film (despite not having watched it) as an homage to how screwed up Communism can turn (Just google Russian soldiers raping civilians, and you’ll find a ton of actual videos of that), whereas American Psycho was practically a documentary of 80’s pop culture.
    But honestly, both of these movies are absolute shit and a waste of time because they lack any sense of realism whatsoever. Save your dollar and don’t even redbox either of ’em. If you want a plot then watch idk, Mad Max or Bladerunner.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:56 pm

  3. Agreed. They are shock for shock’s sake. No substance at all. That is my whole issue with them. And the remakes? Uggghhhh…

    June 22, 2011 at 12:05 am

  4. Alister

    Oh please, at least agree with me that they still retain the basic elements of a story, despite most of them being shitty. I already said that the new Nightmare On Elm Street film/remake wasn’t that bad compared to the Jason remake. xD

    June 22, 2011 at 12:46 am

    • LOL. You’re right, most at least HAVE a plot line.

      June 28, 2011 at 8:18 am

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