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April 27 2012

(SPOILER) NPR's Pop Culture Discussion of The Cabin in the Woods. Interesting discussion about Cabin in the Woods fast forward to 15:38.

They warn you about the spoilery discussion that NPR's various pop culture bloggers (comics, music, movie, general pop culture) have at 15:38 as part of their Pop Culture Happy Hour, touching on everything from Drew's role, the perspective of someone who doesn't like horror, marketing of the film, etc.

I found the two guys on this show INCREDIBLY condescending. I happen to love horror films, and have been known to watch them when alone, and according to them I should be on a "watch-list" because I am a "ticking time-bomb."

I love and respect women. I abhor real world violence. I'm not a retrograde idiot, as I have an MA in English. And I'm a friggin' vegan because I want to minimize the suffering I cause in this world.

I am SO SICK AND TIRED of the tired cliche that horror fans are misogynistic men who hate women and want to see them suffer. Are we back in the 80's all of a sudden?

First of all, studies now show that more females purchase tickets to horror films than males. Second, studies have shown that more men die in horror films than women. Third, studies have shown that viewers (including men) identify with the "final girl" instead of simply desiring to see her die. Fourth, it is really ridiculous that there are still critics out there trying to maintain the rigid distinctions betwen "high" and "low" culture, like these guys are. Fifth, horror films are one of our contemporary ways in which we safely think about, and even flirt with, death, the loss of control, punishment, our fears, and our culture's nightmares. It is also one of the ways in which we explore sociopolitical events which aren't explored elsewhere. If anyone wants to know what it was like to live through the Bush era with its black ops secret prisons, torture, foreign wars, fear of terrorism, religious fundamentalism, etc., then go watch the SAW franchise which these critics so despise...
I honestly think what you are saying applies more to 80s horror than it does to the horror of today. The two guys pretty much represent the people in the room when I watch a horror movie. People just want to see nudity and gore, it has become a complete exploitation genre for the most part. The scene with the couple in the woods, (spoilers obviously), it is a great example of what the audience expects and wants to happen. At first it was exploration but now it is a rule, it is fascination. It is an important question to ask why people want to see this same outcome so many times in so many different films.
@ Doc Benway - Pop Culture Happy Hour is an amazing program, and I feel they brought up some very valid points on the differences between how the movie has been advertised and what you can expect. Glen Weldon and Terry Graham, two of the males on the podcast are by nature condescending in most podcasts I've listened to, but if you look at their backgrounds/what they do for NPR, that is to be expected. The reviewer of books is going to be a little more snobbish than the movies and music editors tend to be.
You are listening to an NPR podcast. NPR by nature distinguishes between high and low pop culture on most of their programming, but seem to cater to everyone in what they air in a given day/week. Just because I don't like certain forms of pop culture doesn't make them less relevant to someone else.
You enjoy your Saw films, while I enjoy a good psychological suspense film with minimal gore.
The distinction they were making in enjoying horror films with a "ticking time bomb" on your forehead was on the torture porn sub-genre (including films like Saw/Hostel), not traditional slasher/horror films.
I love traditional slasher and horror films, as well as those that mock the genre, which include Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Shaun of the Dead, Eight Legged Freaks, Slither...
I don't find the term "torture porn" meaningful or useful at all, and it collapses if you begin to lean on it even a little.

Around 2003, a group of filmakers inspired by Takashi Miike, as well as the American slasher films of the late 70s and 80s, started making harder edged horror, in something of a reaction against the decade or so of Scream-style smartypants horror films, and PG13 Japanese horror remakes. Some folks call these filmakers the Splat Pack, and they include American filmakers but also French and Australian filmakers.

The films made by this loose knit group vary widely in terms of themes and content. What the all have in common is that they are harder edged in terms of the violence. They also tend to be somewhat more realistic, as most don't have ghosts and a whole lot of supernatural elements, but even this isn't always the case! How can one compare Saw with Descent with Inside with Hostel with Martyrs with Eden Lake with Funny Games with Rogue with Woman with High Tension with Devil's Rejects with Cabin Fever with The Hills Have Eyes with Audition, etc.

The answer can't.

Nor can one make a whole lot of meaningful distinctions between the slasher films of the late 70s and 80s and the contemporary films of the Splat Pack, except perhaps to say that the recent trend of films are high quality homages to those earlier films.

The term "torture porn" is used purely to dismiss any horror films which has realistic violence perpetrated by human beings and not supernatural forces. It is a term which is often used in a way which is condescending as well as hateful to those folks who view and study these films.

Even the Saw films are much more sophistocated that people who throw around terms like Torture Porn realize or tend to be willing to admit. All seven films are less sequels than one long, complex story that interweaves in a pretty amazing and unique way...

[ edited by DocBenway on 2012-04-29 08:09 ]
I'm a person who uses the term torture porn. It definitely exists, and it has nothing to do with what is perpetuating the violence. I don't remember the name of the movie, mostly because I try really hard to forget I ever saw it, but there was a movie about a girl who wakes up in the basement of a house and the movie goes about to torture her horrendously, and I was watching it I went 'oh, this is what torture porn is'. To me it means when the only purpose of a movie is to perpetuate the violence. It's when the movie has no really story or plot, and when it's only motivation is to watch a person suffer. Someone on another thread had a perfectly said comment on what torture porn is, and it's definition in relation to sex porn, but I can't remember it verbatim... Anyway, if that person reads this thread, please repeat it!!

Anyway, I really liked the first two Saw movies. I felt like there was a good story, and I cared about the characters and wanted them to get out. I don't remember the third one, I just remember feeling like it had devolved into being more about the kill and less about the story, and I didn't want to watch it continue that downward spiral. I saw it at the theater after marathoning the first two with a group of friends and we all left the theater feeling done with the series.

Anyway, my point was that you seem to think that torture porn isn't a thing and I had a severe reaction to that and had to respond. Wish I could find that great definition that someone posted elsewhere (it was a definition spurred by someone else thinking that torture porn had to be a sex thing, and it's not)

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