A glimpse of hell

Perhaps because I am feeling depressed by illness, unable either to walk or work as hard as is normally needed to keep low spirits away, the world seems horribly meretricicious. I watched an episode of the Wire last night, in which an ex-prisoner was seduced back into gang life at an orgy and I thought it was a glimpse of hell. There were couples fucking in open bedrooms and on stairways; the whole thing run by coke-crazed murderers; whores, or female slaves available for the use of honoured guests: every appetite could be gratified provided it were coarse enough. This was a depiction of the barbarism that we thought we had hauled ourselves out from round about 1250 AD, and it’s back. In fact it’s become well-established as a way of life, handed on by parents to their chldren. And now it’s taking root over here.

What does the respectable world have to set against it? From the arts pages of the Guardian, a story lamenting the bankruptcy of an an arty film distributor lists “Six films that put the distributor ahead of the game”

This Belgian mockumentary about a philosophical serial killer broke new ground with its mix of ultra-brutal murder and mordant humour. …. Unbelievably nasty Japanese fetish-horror epic (the first Takashi Miike film to get a serious UK release, in 2001) that, in many ways, was an indicator of the psychotic depths the terror cinema of the far east would plumb. … Gaspar Noé’s deeply distasteful revenge fable tested audience endurance to the extreme with its nine-minute rape scene, though the ferocious brutality of a key murder was just as disturbing … Korean cinema roared past all comers in the far east ordeal-horror stakes, with this implacably violent parable leading the way. The middle section of Park Chan-wook’s “vengeance” trilogy paved the way for Hollywood’s wretched exercises in torture porn – but at least Park avoided the overt misogyny that infested the films that followed in its wake.

What kind of grotesque and decadent snobbery is this: it’s all right and “edgy” when Koreans do it, but wretched when it’s Hollywood? I don’t see why anyone complicit in the distribution of a nine minute rape scene should be allowed on the pages labelled “Art” or “Culture”. The barbarism goes from top to bottom.

At least a public execution, an event traditionally taken as the touchstone of the barbarism we had abandoned, was meant to be a morally uplifting spectacle, carrying the message that evil would be punished. We pride ourselves on abolishing public executions but instead show rape and murder as realistically as they can be shown, for profit, while left-wing newspapers think this is progress and freedom and that anything which affects the emotions must be art.

I know this sounds Bufton Tuftonish. All I can say is that it’s not a left/right point. The idea that gratifying your wants, whatever they are, is all that there could be to life, is the motor of modern capitalism. If it’s not stopped it will destroy our civilisation and with it most of our species.

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5 Responses to A glimpse of hell

  1. Apropos “depressed by illness”: http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/33835/title/Sick_and_down

    To fight off an infection or illness, the body shifts into a slow-down mode that mirrors some symptoms of depression. In fact, scientists now think the immune response itself may even cause the mood disorder.

  2. scv says:

    No. Moral outrage of the right kind, is one of your gilt-edged reliable qualities.
    Out in the ordinary world, we deal with this, something less than routinely. Capitalism says that Eastern European labour is cheaper than local labour. So we use it, because capitalism says it cuts the cost of production and maximises profit.
    So we use Eastern European labour, and jogers do a slalom around human turds because hirers think that toilets are an unnecessary overhead; these are people who pickour vegetables.
    So tell me that a story about people who are able to make sex available as a pleasure isn’t banal.
    People who have been brought over here and find themselves the subject of abuse, will pass the abuse on, and create the market for what you have described.
    Trust me, I’m a local.

  3. scv says:

    For jogers, read joggers.

  4. ShaunR says:

    ‘The Temptation of Cutty’. Keep watching, Andrew. Simon and Burns have plenty to set against it. For writers that claim Aeschylus and Sophpocles as models, Cutty’s story (along with Bubbles’) is oddly Christian.

    “…left-wing newspapers think this is progress and freedom and that anything which affects the emotions must be art.”

    Great line, this. A reminder that what is sold to us as art is just the middle-class entertainment industry (and a reminder that there are no left-wing newspapers). Up there with Carl Andrés “Art is what we do; culture is what is done to us.”

  5. Observer says:

    Well, as someone who’s actually seen “Irréversible”, the film that contains the rape scene, I think you’re completely missing the point of that film if you think that it’s about gratifying someone’s wants. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. It’s structured in a way that forces you to spend most of the time reflecting over what you saw earlier, rather than, as films usually expect you to, eagerly await the climactical ending.

    But I wouldn’t recommend anyone to see it, really.

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