May 5, 2009

King Kong Theory

I like this quote from this interview on Dogmatika:

Anger is not depression, anger is working with desire and humour. Anger is destructive, but very active.

I’d never heard of the film or the book written by Virginie Despentes, King Kong Theory:

Gives an account of how Despentes became notorious: reviled and admired in equal measure for her rape-revenge novel turned film, "Baise-Moi", she is the poster girl for modern female rebellion. This book describes the ways her ideas have been shaped by her experiences of rape, prostitution and working in the porn industry.

The movie has porn-like scenes of rape, mixed with intense violence. Frankly, I don’t know if I care to ever see the movie or anything like it. I’m becoming increasingly a pansy when it comes to darkness in film and lit. Me, who’s written books about killing a celebrity, a porn star who joins a suicide cult, a serial killer, and recently, human extinction. Why I like her quote is people have totally misinterpreted the anger in my first novel (or even the last post) – not understanding there’s a kind of humor, and even joy, in certain types of anger. Basically, it’s another form of passion.

I like where she's coming from, I just don't know if I like where she's going. Her movie seems to only exist to disturb. A reviewer on IMDB says,

“Somehow, everything was so much overdone that I couldn't take this film seriously anymore. There was so much sex and violence that I got the strong impression that the film was trying very, very hard to be offensive, as if it was aiming at superlatives in ugliness, rather than in telling a convincing tale about two women caught in a spiral of crime.”

Life is shit. Daily, there are people murdering their entire family because of unemployment, driving a car into a group of strangers, stoning a girl to death because she’s been raped, etc. Why then is putting these types of images into a fictional film at all necessary. It’s understandable if art starts to reflect how degraded we’ve become, but really all this does is add to the degradation. Even if it takes a moral position – this behavior is bad – so what? Does anybody need to be taught that rape and murder are bad?

It’s tough, because it’s a conservative position. It’s not much different than people’s reactions to Stravinsky – too dissonant. Why, that’s just noise! But at what point does extraordinary violence in movies actually do harm? Imagine a world where you have snuff-film type violence, porn-style sex, on free TV. The taboos have been broken.

The problem is not the taboos. Porn could be on TV (this is actually in my science fiction novel, a porn sitcom comes on TV called “Stick it to Me”), which could be seen as a kind of progress: sex is natural and shouldn’t be hidden away. But that’s in an ideal world, where people would take rape and violence on TV as a justification. Adding more desensitizing images on public TV isn’t necessarily a sign of progress because people are too stupid to process the information. It’s an argument for censorship - saving people from themselves. There's an inevitable slippery slope when you start doing that, but the first instinct is not necessarily corrupt.

So, I don’t know. The world is likely going to have many more tragedies. Depicting these tragedies in art doesn’t necessarily transcend those tragedies. Just reminds you that life can be shit, nothing more. I’m not sure the use of that. I love transgressive art – it’s what I aim for. But with the world potentially coming to an end – for real – unredeemebly bleak work seems fairly redundant. I’m more interested in maybe finding some way to drive us out of this mess and not have art devolve right along with everything else.


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