Thursday, January 3, 2008

Our Unatached Anti-Heroes

After running into the Neofuturarium at approximately a half an hour after the new year, which arrived in her carelessly debauched manor, to say “hello” like a drunken four year old or a rambunctious puppy dog, I decided to throw a whole bunch of cheese onto John Pierson’s plate then discuss the current trend of murderous psycho/sociopathic stars that have been popping up in many a plot of the modern novel and cinema. Well that trend kind of disturbs me. Most of the movies that came out for the holiday season weren’t warm and fuzzy, but satirical, murderous and full of dark humor. There seem to be a lot of serial killer “heros” or I should say “anti-heros” out there, where, the emotions that would normally shudder throughout one’s psyche after, I don’t know, killing somebody, simply aren’t there. For me this highlights the unattached, faithless, pointlessness of life and life’s lack of inherent justice; it underlines coldness to caring and seems to point directly to the pointless question: “why?” In this case “why bother to feel - we all know it doesn’t mean anything anyway?” It makes me feel strongly that humans, as a group, aren’t wired to comprehend then act upon all the information for which we now have relentless access. The pointless, unexpected, fruitless murders that are spilling into our pop-culture seem to create a brooding anthem to powerlessness… alluding, in an unattached way, to the fragility of human life. Which I think is a stance of giving up and being complacent thus a huge fucking cop-out – what do you think?

Eliza Burmester

1 comment:

pbsebastian said...

I think you make some good points. For the most part, I regard popular culture as an indirect collective discussion. Despite all the banal shit that pop-culture usually “discusses” there are a few gems and trends such as the one you brought up. I understand these anti-heroes as indirect agents in a discussion of all the fucked up shit that is going on in the world. So I would totally agree that the current rise of interest in serial killers/sociopaths stems from a sense of collective powerlessness. However, isn’t there good reason for a collective feeling of powerlessness or, at the very least, a renewed sense of nihilism? An honest look at the state of the union one would find that we have/are: in the middle of an intractable civil war that we needlessly started; an administration that condones torture; Media that campaigns fear; and terrorism (which has always been present but) has knocked on our door in a way that it hasn’t done before. So I am not as concerned that there is this rise of psychos and sociopaths in mainstream film and television because I see them as a reflection of the troubles in the world today. Is it a cop-out to use these characters in a "discussion" of the world? Perhaps some of the conclusions that some film makers/writers/tv producers come to may be a cop-out but I don’t think necessarily. Let’s discuss two films that made many top ten lists in 2007, No Country for Old Men and Zodiac. If you haven’t seen both of these films and intended to please note that there will be spoilers.



No Country for Old Men carries the theme of our inability to control and stop the horrific events in the world. Death in this film is as ubiquitous as a river rising. Many people have described the character Chigurh as the embodiment of death. He kills with a detachment that is not human and he seems unstoppable (much like the chaos in our world). Sheriff Bell, who starts off in the film one step behind Chigurh, only manages to get further and further behind. There is just too much carnage and it overcomes him. Sheriff Bell is/feels powerless to stop the rising tide of “evil” in the world and in the end he surrenders. I think this film could be taken as an allegory to our own world which seems to be increasingly chaotic and out of control. In this case perhaps it is a cop-out to say the hell with it. Any difference that I make for good in this world will just be washed over by sin.

However, I don’t think every film that deals with horror in such a despairingly way. Zodiac, for instance, seems to focus more on how people (directly involved or by proxy) are changed by a horrible event. The film isn’t about the zodiac killer. We learn about his killings and the evidence around him but we don’t really learn about him. Instead, we learn about how people are affected by the investigation. We see Robert Graysmith (Gyllenhaal) turn from a boyscout cartoonist to someone obsessed and willing to put his family in danger. Tosch’s (Ruffalo) career is destroyed by the political fall out surrounding the case. I think this is a film that examines how events can change one’s life and one’s character. If it is an allegory then I don’t think it’s a cop out to step back and take a look at how we’ve been changed by horrible events in our own era.

Call me nuts but this is how I read into these films.

However, if anyone can make any sense of the current trend of murder-porn (hostel, saw, the hills have eyes ect, ect..) please enlighten me. I haven’t actually seen many of these. I saw Wolf Creek and I threw up a little bit.