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Sunday, March 23, 2008

a flick of a switch


While Don was recuperating from shoulder surgery, we got hooked watching "24," the TV show that started in 2001 about the CIA operative Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) and the counter-terrorist unit in LA. Now that we can queue TV shows on Netflix, four episodes on a DVD, we could watch interruption-free, one episode after another. The writing is quite good, and the acting is excellent.


We finished the third of the six completed seasons last week (the seventh season premieres January 2009). In a strangely oxymoronic way, the show displays politically progressive viewpoints, while in the context of the very structures Progressives would like to see changed or eliminated. The politics in it are complex, not black and white.

Each season became more intense, the violence more graphic and more personal. Sure, Jack Bauer is a great guy who only tortures someone because he needs to save a million Americans. But this past season (3) when he had to shoot a colleague in the head and deliver his body to the terrorist enemy (a former British MI-6 agent gone sour) to keep him from releasing a biological weapon that would kill millions of Americans, we decided to stop watching.



Two out of the five Oscar nominees for Best Picture this year were violent films, including the winner, “No Country for Old Men.” The other is “There Will Be Blood.” Today we decided to take “No Country” off our queue because it’s rated R for strong graphic violence. Everyone says it’s a great movie.



It’s sort of strange that we cover our children’s eyes to protect their developing minds from violent acts, but it becomes okay as adults to entertain ourselves with it. I know it's out there in the real world, but as my mom used to say, "you get hungry for what you feed yourself."



I dunno, I’m getting sick from feeding myself violence through the TV.

24 comments:

Peter said...

The violence you talk about in '24' sounds outrageous and ridiculous. I can't believe a show would have the protagonist willingly shoot and kill a colleague in order to save others. Quite the moral dilemma, but it sounds like he made the wrong choice. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from "North By Northwest" when Carey Grant's character says:

"If you can't lick the Vandamms
of this world...



...without asking girls to bed down
and fly away with them...



...and probably never come back...



...perhaps you should learn
how to lose a few cold wars."

Speaking of Hitchcock though, "No Country For Old Men" has scene after scene that would make Hitchcock himself sweat. The Coen Brothers made a masterpiece, and yes there is violence in the movie, but it's a symbol of the main character as essentially playing the role of "Death" and seeing how characters respond. It still may be worth seeing even though it does contain violence.

Don said...

Your photo of the birdhouse stood out to me as a symbol of what you are talking about. Let's quiet down a bit so we can see the beauty around us. I don't need to stress out about cinema/TV.

Drowsey Monkey said...

You guys sound like my sister & her husband ... they are doing the same thing with the 24 dvds! LOL She went away for a week and her husband & son banished her to the family room to catch-up on episodes. I've never watched it ... but people do seem to be hooked!

Loring Wirbel said...

I saw "No Country" yesterday and was quite creeped out by the whole experience. Technically the cinematography and acting may have been great, but it's hard to figure out why the Academy gave best picture to a story of an avenging angel with virtually no redeemable qualities - a much less liekable character than Russ Crowe in "3:10 to Yuma" for example. I'm looking forward to seeing "There Will Be Blood" for Day-Lewis' acting, but I have that same troubled sense of anticipation and dread, which I never got from far better movies like "Diving Bell and Butterfly" or "The Kite Runner."

Kris said...

Yes, Aunt Ruth...and our challenge has been to somehow protect our young kids from the increasing violence on TV. If we watch a family show together, we often have to turn it off during the commercials due to the violent acts in shows to be broadcast at another time.

freefalling said...

This is rather telling... but, when you mentioned violence in "No Country", I really had to concentrate hard to remember it!
Normally, I hate violent tv and movies - I can't even watch nature documentaries (all those lions killing wilderbest and gazelles!), but the violence from "no country" has disappeared from my immediate memory!
When I do call up the memory, it IS that kind of violence we see all the time and have become numb to.
I didn't enjoy "no country" - I understand how it was a masterpiece of film-making and normally I love the Coen Brothers but this film was devoid of hope - it had no balance - it was entirely bleak.

Ruth said...

Peter, I was just reading another article about violence (in The Sun), and the writer wrote something I agree with: I loved the last James Bond movie, which is rife with violence. I'm a hypocrite!

Ruth said...

Don, I was relieved that you were on the same page about '24.' It wouldn't have been easy if you really wanted to keep watching it, for either of us.

Ruth said...

Drowsey, there was one Saturday we watched like four episodes straight. Or was it 5?

Ruth said...

Loring, we started "3:10 to Yuma" the other night and turned it off because the bad guys creeped us out. Getting creeped out can also happen in a movie with no violence whatsoever. Or, like the scenes in "Silence of the Lambs" or "Seven" that don't show the acts, but they are there in your mind's eye. I know I'm silly, but "Blair Witch" freaked me out more than any movie I've ever seen. And there was no violence on screen.

Ruth said...

Kris, I was chatting with Peter about this topic, and we talked about how the line has been pushed and pushed, so that what was violent and shocking in the '50s and '60s feels tame now (think "Pscyho.") I read stats that said in the late '80s/early '90s the average TV show in Canada (they get a lot of our programming too) had 40 acts of violence. Most of it is done by "the good guys."

Ruth said...

Letitia, I am just like you about nature shows, can't watch the eating and devouring scenes. I know it's natural, but that doesn't mean I have to watch!

I think your comment about "No Country" really is telling, and gets at what I'm feeling. You don't remember violence in it, but you were disturbed by it psychologically, as Loring was.

We watched "Perfume," a while back, what a creepy story! It was well done, but am I glad I saw it? It's tricky, because you can't say ahead of time whether you'll like a movie, whether you'll be creeped out by it.

I dunno, I think Don and I are feeling that there is enough stress and misery in the world without putting ourselves through it on the screen. I watch it on the news, because I want to be informed. I used to just add movies to my queue that were well reviewed, regardless of content. Now I know I'm more sensitive about it, so I'll look more closely at the content.

Bob Johnson said...

I hear you Ruth, that's why I watch every space show I can,lol.

As far as 24 goes, maybe if it had been done back in 94 it would have been different, check out this unaired 1994 version, let me know what you think, I laughed till I stopped.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMLH_QyPTYM

Bob Johnson said...

Ruth I forgot to mention, your images are awesome as usual.

Ruth said...

Bob, how funny! Without quick Internet and phones, 24 would be nothing. You laughed till you stopped? Now that's even funnier.

Watching space is exciting. I'm lazy, so I watch it through your blog, except when we look from our hot tub.

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, glad you liked it, I passed it around the office, everybody thought it was great.

Ginnie said...

Another thought-provoking discussion, Ruth! I do find it very interesting that I am immune to most violence in movies...but not all. Some "feels" worse than others, even if the end result is death. But what I am NOT immune to is psychological "violence" that still to this day creeps me out. Those who know me know I will NOT watch certain movies because of it. I remember that "24" episode...and Donica and I are two who are hooked on that show. It would have been good to have a group discussion after seeing it. So many questions, so little time! In the end, what I miss doesn't hurt me, so I'm with Don on enjoying Nature! :)

Ruth said...

Boots, I seem to remember you having a hard time with "Wait Until Dark" with Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin, all that suspense. Was that one of them?

Astrid said...

Violence in a movie, that is some nice discussion, I just talked about it with Ginnie yesterday, I don't watch love stories, psychological movies, movies about some bad will happen to children, movies about hospitals, about mental hospitals, everybody loved "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" 1975, well for me that was no fun, my dad was in a mental home during that time, so what is fun for one, might be the real hard life of another, I do love action movies but not with to much violence in them, adventure movies, and funny movies...
But the stuff they show on TV is sometimes sickmaking, small kids are watching them and their parents........busy with their own life and not paying attention...
BTW, in this discussion I almost forget to mention your outstanding pictures again, I rather watch those than anything else (I forgot, I love to wath Nat. Geo, and discovery channel)

Ruth said...

Astrid, sounds like you enjoy entertainment that is fun and goes away from the hardships of real life. Sounds good to me. Like Letitia said, it's hard for me too to watch National Geo if cheetahs and lions are eating wildebeast, even though I don't object to the food chain in principle, ha. But I do love watching nature if some animal's guts aren't getting ripped out.

Thank you for your nice comment.

Rauf said...

if you make something you have to sell it Ruth and violence sells.
Mala was screaming at me for suggesting 'No Country' she hated it.
There is violence around us Ruth.
Violence is not our imagination. there is violence in micky mouse too.

Ruth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth said...

rauf, I watched "The Three Stooges" as a kid, terribly violent. I watched Micky Mouse and Mighty Mouse too. Yes, violent. I don't think they made me a violent person. But I do think the volume of violence around us has desensitized us to it over the decades.

I'm sorry Mala watched "Old Country" and regrets it.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hi Ruth,
Your photographs are phenomenal... wow... beautiful compositions... settings... subjects..

Thanks so much for coming over so i could find you... I feel honored by your comments... you are too sweet, thanks, gwen