Torture Porn

A. S. Hamrah, in and amid the de regeur Bush bashing, stumbles upon a couple of truths
in an editorial in today’s Strib:

From mainstream actioners such as “Casino Royale” and “Apocalypto” to horror cut-’em-ups such as “Saw III” and “Turistas” (itself a retread of 2005’s breakout torture hit “Hostel”), the kind of entertainment referred to as “torture porn” combines the mise-en-scene of Abu Ghraib with screenwriting evocative of reports from Camp X-Ray.

In reviewing the torture hits, critics take pains to tell readers that these movies are somehow about our collective fears of confinement and mutilation, about confronting some kind of ultimate evil that kicks us in the crotch before it cuts off our head and sends it tumbling down the stairs, punishing us for our desires.

But if we’re confronting our fears, we’re sure doing it exuberantly. The ingeniously imagineered punishment devices in these movies, along with their chummy torture-chamber repartee and quick recoveries from pain and abuse, aren’t so much about the fear of torture as they are about the joy of it — and its necessity. Torture is a duty that filmmakers, like Tom Sawyer painting the fence, have convinced us is a lot of fun.

Um no, A. S., not a duty.  A pornographic profit center.

(As Abu Ghraib was, indeed, for the “news” media). 

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