Pretty fair column (tad overheated) by Warren Kinsella (Nat Post, June 7 ''07) on Torture Porn. You'll have to read the column if you want explicit details concerning the films surveyed. I'm not giving the moviemakers concerned that sort of publicity. I have to say the descriptions given don't sound more repellent than a production of Titus Andronicus that adhered strictly to Shakespeare's scenario. Willy over time developed a modicum of subtletly and so might some of these young filmmakers.
Eli Roth (director of The Hostel, Thanksgiving and a few other entries in the TorPorn sweeps) is quoted by Kinsella as saying this: "What's worse, my movie or Dick Cheney? Nobody actually died in my movie. People actually die because of Dick Cheney, and he doesn't allow you to see it."
I disapprove, morally and aesthetically, of TorPorn for the same reason I disapprove of formulaic (which is to say 99.99% of) RomCom. Art is a complex balancing of connection and disengagement, and it's impossible to achieve either emotional connection or critical distance when a story is nothing but a steadily escalating gorefest, or an upward spiral of aw shucks and predictable giggles. Whether RomCom or TorPorn is more dangerously antisocial I wouldn't like to try to determine, since the ultimate effect of bad art on society in general is nebulous, underground and incredibly hard to track.
So I'm no more than minimally defending Eli Roth when I acknowledge he has a point. A shotgun blast to the face in an Eli Roth movie would most likely not even give the actor a rash. The effect of terror bombs, cluster bombs and military tribunals dispensing McJustice at the end of a rope is in no sense virtual, and has scarcely a tangential relation to violence however gruesomely simulated onscreen.
C 2007 Martin Heavisides