Give the Mob Blood and Violence and You’ll Have a Successful Movie

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We are a bloodthirsty race. We crave it. It seems we need our daily dose of on-screen violence, blood, and gore in order to survive. There is a reason why Roman emperors and the senate referred to their people in ancient times as “the mob”. Give them what they want, and they will adore you. Take it away, and they will be the death of you. The human race has not changed so much over the last few thousand years—our means of satisfying our blood lust have merely changed. We went from gladiatorial games, torture, and mass-executions, to now having them simulated with movies and video games because to witness such events for real would be, albeit very hypocritical, uncivilized and barbaric. We are a race that is very easily manipulated and also very easily mystified when it comes to violence. We are a world of hypocrites and fools. More specifically, in America, we are a nation of people so righteous and caring that we quickly shield our children from movies with graphic nudity or sexuality, yet say, “Oh, it’s only violence and language. Nothing they haven’t seen or heard before!” when it comes to a film series like Saw, which only a sadist could truly enjoy, and more recently, Django Unchained, which offers us 110 utterances of the N-word. If what I am saying is true, and that all you have to do is present us with a film full of gratuitous violence and hard language for it to be a commercial success, then Quentin Tarantino is the undisputed master of cinema.

Who else could continuously give us such violent efforts and be praised as one of the best directors of this generation? Who else, as a white director, could get away with such racist dialogue? More power to him, I suppose, because he has realized over the years what it takes to be successful in Hollywood. He has become my unintentional example here, as this latest film was so violent that it was actually considered for an NC-17 rating, just like his 2007 film Grindhouse, which actually landed such a rating. Django Unchained is a film I will probably not be seeing, unless someone were to chain me up and drag me to the theater (in which case I would hope they could at least pay for my ticket under the circumstances), for a few reasons. The first would be Tarantino’s need to re-write history. I imagine that every single southerner portrayed in this film is a wealthy, whip-toting slave owner who tortures and executes his slaves like its going out of style. Should I even bother going into the facts that most southerners (about 98%, actually) in the pre-Civil War era were poor, white farmers who could barely feed their families, much less own slaves and a massive plantation? Oh, who cares. Not that anyone goes to a Tarantino film to see historical facts, because they don’t, but it still would have been nice in a film about World War II to not have a complete rewrite of what actually happened to Adolf Hitler. Speaking of Inglorious Basterds, the only Tarantino film I’ve ever been able to get myself to sit through, even when that was finished I remember throwing my arms up in the air, saying, “Now that figures!” It was a moderately decent film, filled with gratuitous violence, with vicious deaths often portrayed in a humorous light, but the ending did it for me. It sealed the deal that this man truly is this generation’s perfect director.

Let us also briefly sidetrack away from violence, for a moment, and examine the double standard. I really don’t quite know what to make of the situation. Weeks ago, Jamie Foxx, the star of Django Unchained, joked around on SNL that he gets to “…kill all the white people. How great is that?” Now, being level-headed and appreciative of poor-taste humor, not once did I ever feel threatened by such a statement, because, to be honest, I can’t imagine Mr. Foxx driving around Hollywood killing people…in real life, anyway. But imagine, if you will, a white actor joking around that he gets to, “kill all the black people” and enjoy it. Do you realize the outrage that would ensue? The immediate blacklisting of the actor, protests outside of theaters, Al Sharpton getting his panties twisted in a bunch, the whole nine yards! Was Foxx reprimanded by the media after? Yes, but not before the live audience roared with laughter and approval at the remark, with the media merely calling it a joke in bad taste. Had it been the other way around, I imagine we would still be hearing about it. Then again, I love when the masses are uptight. That’s what makes them easy to control, easy to please. That’s why, as fate would have it, this actor would be united with such a director, for a movie that currently sits at an 8.8 rating and will most likely be Tarantino’s highest grossing venture ever.

“This is a violent and borderline sadistic effort, with graphic scenes of torture and suffering, while bullet hits don’t just pop, they explode like cherry gushers,” wrote Brian Orndorf in his review for Blu-Ray.Com. While some people may read this and be repulsed, most probably quickly changed browsers to the website of the nearest movie theater to catch when the next showing is. Am I opposed to violence in movies? Absolutely not, however, when it comes to the subject, I recognize that there are two types of violent films: the ones that require a high level of violence to tell a story (example: Saving Private Ryan), and the ones that require a high level of violence because they need it to be successful. Which one of these do you think films like Django Unchained or Saw are? Films with a semi-decent or mediocre storyline that would be nothing without blood gushing, torture, and bodies being mangled? If you want to look at how deep a movie is when it comes to the director’s talent or the film’s total potential and target audience, take the storyline, dialogue, and special effects, and adjust them in your mind and ask yourself, “Would this film have succeeded with a PG-13 rating?” If the answer is yes, even with heavy alterations, you have yourself a good movie. If the answer is no, like everything Tarantino has ever directed, you might want to rethink your assessment of his work as a cinematic masterpiece. He is a director who thrives on violence, because without it, he would have nothing left but his depraved brain wanderings. He is a director who capitalizes on people’s natural-born instincts to want and crave seeing people killed. Why else do such movies, and video games where we can do it ourselves, become so successful?

All that being said, I am not one of those people who thinks that movie and video game violence is the sole reason for the violent world we have today, and the never-ending stream of public shootings. But will you consider, just for a second, that they may be complimentary? They are not the sole cause, but combined with other factors, give people this desensitized view of fellow-man and no appreciation for human life, that it might actually be fun to kill someone? It is the greatest hypocritical irony that we denounce gun ownership and weep over the deaths of 20 small children, yet at the same time defend such violence coming into our homes via the video game, or taking children or unstable adults to the movie theater. It’s like, what did you think would happen? You let a child who cannot separate reality from fantasy play Call of Duty then scratch your head in a wondrous awe when he shoots up a school or shopping mall. Coming out of a film like Django Unchained spouting rave reviews, yet at later on asking, “What happened to society? Why is there such violence in our world?” is the same as living out an old George Carlin joke, “…it’s like these idiots who build their house on the side of Mount Kilauea and then get upset when they have lava in the living room”. It’s the same exact thing: you ignore the obvious then state the obvious when what you originally ignored comes back to bite you.

As long as films like this succeed, we will be a nation of hypocrites and violence mongers. Will we ever change? I think not, because the mob is powerful and ever-growing, and if filmmakers want to keep putting out the big-time blockbusters, they have to appease the mob. We want blood! We want violence! We want explosions! Movies as an artform is close to dead—all that remains is its use as a money-making vehicle. The days of real movies are dead, and we killed it. But you can’t get too upset, because you are the cause. Don’t speak out against excessive violence, because you are the cause. Don’t ask why nothing original comes out of Hollywood anymore, because you are the cause. You did it, and I hope you are happy.

9 thoughts on “Give the Mob Blood and Violence and You’ll Have a Successful Movie

  1. Gettysbuff

    Look, Greg, you already know that i really like you (at least most of the time), but for someone who is in his early 20s you really do come across as a bitter grumpy old man that doesn’t understand the modern world and modern cinema. If i didn’t know your age i would assume this article had been written by a man over twice your age. You are wrong on so many levels. I enjoyed most of the Saw movies, and i am definitely not a sadist. That is your first mistake. I also enjoy blood-soaked movies, but not because i have a bloodlust – mistake number 2. 3 – I would still watch Tarantino movies if there was less violence because i like his movies, they are entertaining, funny, stylish, and are just…different. You are obviously not a fan (which you pretty much admitted) and you are not a fan because you don’t understand his creative genius. 4 – This movie is not a historical film, more a fantastical film set in a particular period of history – much like Vampire Hunter was. So, as much as i love history (and i do!) i feel that there was no need for you to include the whole historical argument piece as you always seem to have to do. It serves no purpose but to unfairly attack films that YOU did not like. Again, you come across as a grumpy old man who loves nothing in the world but history. You do realize that the Hitler death in Inglorious Basterds was HUMOROUS, and it was intended to be so? We all know what really happened to Hitler, so why would anyone want to see a director who is WELL-KNOWN for his unique style and creative flair, make a serious historical movie? Answer: they wouldn’t. We have ol’ Ron Maxwell for that kind a thing.

    5 – Quentin’s movies would probably be very successful if the violence was lessened. I have never met anyone who watches his movies for the violence. Most of my friends and i saw the very first or second movie he ever made, and were hooked from then on in. Example: they liked Pulp Fiction for the different storylines, the order in which the events in the movie were shown, and the way all the storylines intertwine and the last act of the movie is the same/a continuation of the beginning so the movie comes full circle, so to speak. As a casual uneducated viewer you failed to mention merits such as these, and therefore you just gave a one-sided argument based on YOUR personal and political views on violence in movies and video games.

    6 – Don’t even get me started on the whole Jamie Foxx thing. I am not, and will never be offended by a statement like that as it was totally tongue-in-cheek. If he wasn’t killing white dudes in the movie then he probably never would have said it. AND he said it on SNL, which is a comedy show where you can get away with a lot more than you would on a non-comedy platform. It was – at the end of the day – JUST COMEDY….again, the ‘grumpy old man’ thought springs to mind yet again (i know somebody who is just like you and he would probably say the same things you have here, and guess what? He’s 55. And he won’t mind me saying that he is pretty grumpy in general.)

    I will finish here soon, but before i do i want you to understand one thing about QT’s movies from someone who knows a thing a two about him/them. They are violent NOT to just BE VIOLENT, but because most of them (in part) are based upon the style of comic books, graphic novels, Japanese Anime, etc. All of these things are very ultra-violent/hyper-violent and so that style is brought over into his movies. The genius of QT is that he blends all his interests and passions (the above named mediums, plus westerns, old “Grindhouse movies”, etc.) into one product. You probably haven’t seen Kill Bill Vol. 1, but let me tell you that it has a whole sequence in the movie that is actually an animation in the style of Japanese Anime….and yes it is BLOODY. lol. That one example just makes my point. QT puts stuff (including violence) in his movies that HE enjoys (and everything he enjoyed growing up throughout his childhood and beyond), not what he thinks the audience might enjoy just to make money. You should really do your research before ranting your biased opinions, as it’s not really fair to a talented movie director who is a big movie lover himself and genuinely loves his craft. In other words inside him is an excitable and enthusiastic childlike movie fan just like there is inside most of us, and he puts stuff in his movies that HE wants to see. ‘Kay? You should have picked on the makers of the Saw movies, your point would have been illustrated much better with them.

    I will actually say that even if i wasn’t a QT fan, the level of violence in his movies (and in other similar movies) wouldn’t actually offend me because most of the time they are so over-the-top and stylized that they fail to shock and offend and just end up looking cartoonish (which most of the time is 100% intentional). I actually felt more sick watching Private Ryan because of it’s realism! So there.

    1. Gettysbuff

      Afterthought: I do also happen to agree with you somewhat. I do not like children playing violent video games and i do not agree with parents taking their children to unsuitable movies and/or showing them unsuitable movies at home. However we cannot just outright ban violent movies. The moment that happens is the moment we would stop being a democracy, and i would be certainly be looking for another country to live in. If we don’t have the freedom to choose what we do and don’t want to see at the movies then that would be very sad indeed. I’m pretty sure 98% of the adult human race don’t go out and shoot a bunch of people after seeing a violent movie so why let the minority spoil it for the majority? If somebody is inclined to shoot people then there is obviously something SERIOUSLY wrong with them in the first place, and they would probably eventually kill someone one day WITHOUT seeing any violence on screen. In the case of the most recent school shootings, i would actually look towards blaming that one kid’s crazy mom before i would blame on-screen violence. She was totally paranoid and she maintained an arsenal of assault weapons in her home in the (unlikely) event that she ever became under attack (why she ever would, i don’t actually know). Oh yeah, and she took her kids to the gun range regularly. Smart. Apparently the kid had Asperger’s too.

      1. Looks like we do agree on something, like you said, “somewhat”. Just to clarify, I do not want to ban violent movies. I had basically this same argument with someone on Facebook, and I’ll tell you what I told him: I respect Tarantino’s right to make whatever films he wants, I just don’t respect WHAT he makes. And all that said, I basically called him a financial genius in this article, even with the anger and sarcasm towards him.

        We also agree that the mother was to blame in that recent shooting. I made a rather large posting on Facebook a few days after it happened where I said I was glad he killed her because then we would have to hear the same sing-song nonsense that all these parents cry about when their child kills a bunch of people. She essentially put the gun in his hand. She knew he was unstable, she knew he had problems and was socially awkward, she knew he was Autistic, so she keeps those guns at the ready in her house? Not once did it occur to her that all his problems combined with his intense love of violent video games and lack of human interaction (and visits to the gun range as you mention) could culminate with some kind of violent action?

        Again, as I’ve said many times, I do not believe that only violent movies/games are to blame for our violent world. I do think they help, however, because while they may not motivate someone to kill others, if people play them from a very young age, they WILL become desensitized of the violence and MIGHT not be able to comprehend violence in real life. Perhaps they will not grasp the concept of “re-spawning” and how that does not occur with someone when they die in real life. Does this happen to everyone? Of course not, but the select few ruins it for the majority.

        The complete banning of ANYTHING is not the way to go, but the limiting of access is. Everything from guns to movies to games can all be restricted further. Now, I do not want to turn this into a Nazi state by having restrictions on everything, but what about not allowing ANYONE under 18 into an R-rated movie (and they can just do away with NC-17 at that point because it would be like the same thing)? It does not matter if the parents are there or buys the ticket for the child, the child simply cannot go in. It would be met with strong opposition, but it could work. I’m not so sure I would go around advocating it, but it IS a way to help restrict violence in children’s lives (while home video and video games cannot be regulated in the same manner because no one can control what goes on in the home). And if film production companies don’t like the fact that a large portion of their audience will be lost due to a re-rating system, well, then they’ll just have to alter the content of their movies.

  2. Gettysbuff

    I have to say that i agree strongly agree with your last paragraph and i have actually said the same thing to other people myself! I know that in the UK (i’m not sure about other countries) you have to be 18 to see an “18” rated movie (which is the highest adult rating they have, a “15” rating being the second highest). So i’ve never quite understood why they have never implemented that over here.

    1. May be cause for a future article. It’s a good idea and makes a lot of sense. It’s not radical either.

      EDIT: And maybe add something in between PG-13 and R, like PG-15. 13 and 18 is such a large jump and difference in maturity that regardless of whether or not the R is changed, something else should still be added, or make it like TV and average 13 and 15 into a brand new PG-14.

      1. Gettysbuff

        As far as i know it has always been like that for years in the UK (at least with the 18 rating), so it’s nothing new. Then they have a 15 and a 12 rating (they are newer but have still been around for a while) and then a PG. Britain may have had a great Empire at one time, and they are still a fantastic country (or should i say, a COLLECTION of countries), but it is America that is the most modern country and as great as she is i still cannot understand why she cannot implement what the Brits have done for years. My only guess is that Britain is more of a “Nanny State”, where THEY decide certain things for the people, where as America has more freedoms. In this case we are giving the freedom to parents to choose whether to take their son or daughter to a particular movie, and we are making the wrong assumption that they will make a RESPONSIBLE decision. Now i am all for Freedom with Responsibility, but at the same time there are just so many stupid parents out there that think it’s fine to take their kid to see a scary movie or whatever. I have to say i think the Brits have got it right with this one.

  3. Pingback: Hollywood Hypocrites mephitises all around us. « Pitchfork Patriots

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