July 25, 2012

"Back in the '70s, I asked Orson Welles what he thought was happening to pictures, and he said, 'We're brutalizing the audience.'..."

"... We're going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum.' The respect for human life seems to be eroding."


EMD said...

Sadly, Orson Welles never lived to see Human Centipede.

Ken said...

This is always the fear, but the reality is that violence has been on the decline for centuries. Yes, even including both world wars, the probability that a random person would be killed by another declined in the 20th century compared to previous centuries. And violent crime is still in decline.

Orson Welles and many like him see themselves as far more influential than they actually are.

bagoh20 said...

It's time for a new, big, idea! Well, actually way past time. This shock crap is really worn out.

Revenant said...

Why do Hollywood types always find a way to make a tragedy be about THEM?

Ok, Bogdonavich made a movie, a half-century ago, about shootings in a movie theater. So what? What's that got to do with anything at all?

Bob Ellison said...

EMD, be sure to check this out. The main creator is apparently the guitarist who plays the role of the Greek chorus.

traditionalguy said...

Orson was a visionary film maker. He saw what the next steps would be when restraints of morality standards were removed from prodution decisions.

We got a dose of existential philosophers to try and explain the sickness to us. But no cure has been proposed for man's unrestrained evil thoughts and lawless conduct.

Amartel said...

The key quote is at the end of the article.

"I'm not sure what the solution is. I'm not too eloquent on the subject. I'm just too angry about it."

Translation: I'm a famous person and here is my entirely emotion-based opinion.

Ralph L said...

We will butcher no wino before his time.

Eustace Chilke said...

One sane armed person in that theater would have made a difference. Ken is right. Violence has been declining for centuries. Most of the brutality in the world during the twentieth century was committed by governments. No contest.

edutcher said...

The cinematic wunderkid had to ask the older cinematic wunderkind what was happening?

He couldn't see it on the screen?


yashu said...

I have a lot of sympathy for Bogdanovich over Dorothy Stratten, just as I have a lot of sympathy for Polanski over Sharon Tate (not to mention other of Polanski's experiences). That doesn't vindicate Bogdanovich's or Polanski's (predictable) political prescriptions, nor does it mitigate any of e.g. Polanski's actions.

Amartel said...

Poor Bogdanovich. Great talent but I wonder if he blames the Beatles for inspiring Sharon Tate's murder. Or plans to protest the sale of knives.
BTW, he appeared in multiple episodes of The Sopranos. Which I loved but is not exactly a show which held back on the gun violence or the gun death cliches.

Penny said...

High self esteem is a good thing.

Is it really any wonder that those who have some dare to tell us when a particular chapter of the history book should end?

Penny said...

SCRIBES have the biggest egos.

Don't doubt it!

It's been true since "history" began.

Penny said...

Just that NOW?

Where the hell did all these "historians" come from?

Penny said...

We are SMASHING future history as we speak.


For sure.

Penny said...

In our long term best interests to have this happen?

All I can say is this...

"SOMEBODY"...out there...has a divine sense of responsibility.

Coupled with a helluva lot of faith in humanity.

Penny said...

I like that message.

n.n said...

With a progressive desire for dreams of instant gratification without perceived consequences, a large minority of America's population has voted for redistributive and retributive change, denigration of individual dignity, and the devaluation of human life (e.g. elective abortion of developing human life). Our popular culture, by its nature, is merely reflecting the compromises many of us have elected to accept.

To offer due credit to others, including Benjamin Franklin, the prediction that a progressive number of people would elect to exchange their liberty, and that of others, for submission with benefits, is historical.

Revenant said...


The real-life rates of violent crime are currently where they were at the end of the 1950s. If you exclude the violence associated with the black market in drugs (prohibition: the gift that keeps on giving) things are as peaceful as they've ever been in America.

The notion that we, as a society, somehow value life less than we used to lacks empirical support.

William said...

Hollywood types always feel that the answer lies in restricting the 2nd but not the 1st amendment....Limbaugh had a riff today where he claimed that restricting the coverage of these madmen would perhaps diminish the chance of motivating a copycat killer. Lot of luck with that.

Sabinal said...

Orson Welles and many like him see themselves as far more influential than they actually are.

Amen. he also seems to exempt himself from the shock factor when in fact he is guilty as well.


He's also late by about 200 years. Quite a few humans enjoyed the beheadings of the rich during the French Revolution.

Sabinal said...

traditional guy said:
Orson was a visionary film maker. He saw what the next steps would be when restraints of morality standards were removed from prodution decisions.

Does this mean he wants the Hays Code brought back?

Indigo Red said...

Several comments have been made that violence is going down as society moves on and that is correct. Despite the ugly pictures and videos coming out of countries currently at war with themselves, even today's wars are far less deadly than in the past. That is actually why it is reported - news is the unusual. No one will ever be in the news for driving the speed limit through green lights.

Saint Croix said...

I have a lot of sympathy for Bogdanovich over Dorothy Stratten, just as I have a lot of sympathy for Polanski over Sharon Tate

I would imagine Roman Polanski, with his young pregnant wife, probably felt the most love that a young man can feel. Not just for his wife but for his first child. And his wife and child were ripped from him in a violent murder by the Manson family. It's such a horrible crime I can barely imagine his pain.

Bogdanovich, on the other hand, wasn't married to Dorothy Stratten, and they weren't having a baby. Dorothy was married to another man. She was cheating on her husband with Bogdanovich. And the husband lost it and committed a murder-suicide.

Of course Peter Bogdanovich is not to blame for the murder-suicide. Paul Snider committed the crime, so he's responsible.

But if I was making a list of acts I might do that might inspire murder...

1) make a violent movie
2) make a violent video game
3) manufacture a gun in my factory
4) sleep with somebody's wife

I would say option 4 is the most dangerous.

Bogdanovich has made some great comedies (What's Up Doc? and Noises Off). But his adultery comedy (They All Laughed) that he shot with Stratten is very glib, shallow and stupid.

Truffaut is a stronger artist than both Polanski and Bogdanovich, in my opinion. And Truffaut is particularly brilliant on the subject of adultery, which he returns to again and again and again.

Saint Croix said...

nor does it mitigate any of Polanski's actions.

It really shouldn't surprise us that the victim of a horrible crime would go on to commit a horrible crime himself. It's really human to respond that way.

Polanski's art is weird in that his films seem to foreshadow events in his life. The weird cult and the pregnant Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby seems to suggest the Manson atrocities. And one might see in Chinatown Polanski's future rape of a 13-year-old girl.

Jane said...

Here's my current theory: smarter-than-average but not supergenius kid finds that grad school is a lot harder than undergrad, has a hard time making friends, and immerses himself more and more in the world of video games, movies, etc. He fails out of his program (not because of the onset of mental illness, but because it's not uncommon to fail out of grad school), loses his girlfriend, smokes a lot of pot, and imagines that committing a grand crime will be so euphoric (just like in the movies) and such a monumental acheivement that it's worth the consequences (and quite possibly he expected to escape and flee abroad). The reports of him being in a daze are, again, not mental illness, but just the reality of what he's done sinking in.

Where do movies come in? His inspiration, of course, but does that mean we can blame the movie? The murder rate has gone down (though it's been suggested that this is due to medicine moving many cases from "murder" to "attempted murder" or "assult" as more people survive gunshot wounds), but it does seem like what has happened is that these sorts of mass killings are new -- as if something that had been inconceivable became conceivable.

Where does neuroscience come in? I don't think that makes him a particular expert in "how to fake mental illness" but could have talked himself into such things as "there is no such thing as morality" and "there is nothing special that makes us human; the brain is just a bunch of neurons firing" -- that his expert knowledge could have helped him rationalize his act.

gerry said...

The respect for human life seems to be eroding"

Slippery slope syndrome. First you flush the unborn babies like they're trash. Then you kill the newborns if their heads are still in the tube. Then you kill the ones who have diseases, and force the aged to die of thirst.

Ya think?

Old RPM Daddy said...

Did anyone look at the comments attached to the original Hollywood Reporter article? They reminded me why I enjoy lurking on this blog, though I seldom have anything to add.

Mitch H. said...

I, personally, was deeply brutalized by The Last Picture Show. Pompous, awful movie.

The real-life rates of violent crime are currently where they were at the end of the 1950s.

Check out the literature written at the time. They knew they were on a slippery slope, and it was becoming increasingly obvious that there was a social violence problem, especially in the cities. Death and Life of Great American Cities is just full of descriptions of increasing social insecurity and violence. It was written in 1961, but the research and examples are mostly from the late Fifties.

PatCA said...

I agree that movies now do brutalize the audience, but I don't think that causes mass murders like the present one.

I think that the cult of the anti-hero and the contempt for human beings and for common standards of decency (at least when we had shared standards) has given rise to the snark-filled, alienated, cynical thug culture of today.

I saw some magazine ads from the '80s recently. The scenes were gentle and calm. This is now noticeably gone, gone, gone.