PC #105 – A tangible instance of change…

My son, aged 28, is a cinema buff. His knowledge of Asian cinema far surpasses mine.

There is a very famous and highly regarded Japanese filmmaker, his name is Takashi Miike. He makes very graphic, very violent, outrageous films. He takes the rules of cinema and throws them out the window. Scholars have done PhDs on his body of work.

One of his famous, or infamous, movies is called Ichi the Killer. My son wanted me to watch it with him today. I’d seen some of the movie before, but hadn’t seen it all the way through. My son wanted me to see the film in its entirety. It’s one of his favourites.

Right at the start there’s a very graphic rape scene. And then later the same woman is raped and bashed again. I found it very disturbing. And partway through the film, I asked my son to turn it off. I told him I couldn’t watch it anymore.

He was disappointed, and reminded me that last time I’d watched it, I’d regarded the scenes of violence as an important part of the narrative, and I’d admired the over-blown outrageous nature of it all.

This time I couldn’t stand it. I simply couldn’t watch it, no matter how virtuoso the cinematic artistry was.

As my son was packing away the DVD, he asked me why I was so reactive this time. Last time I’d seen the film, I’d enjoyed it.

I told him: Now I’m a pilgrim...


19 thoughts on “PC #105 – A tangible instance of change…

  1. Bill, I caught one of his movies by.mistake – and it really upset me, apart from my victim past. What cinematic or scholarly point can only be made, or best be made by doing something unspeakably cruel to another human being, usually a woman, who is weaker physically? I was physically ill and ended up needing to call my old PTSD counsellor, after seeing that film . Do those filmakers feel its an acceptable risk to potentially damage the hard won composure real victims try so hard to create around themselves?And do viewers relish this way of making a point? Can they justify the movie inspired attacks that so often happen to women when these films come out?


    • Hi Sister –

      an argument can be put that this constitutes cinematic “art,” but there’s sometimes a fine line between art and pornography.

      Tarantino uses violence in a way that’s responsible, if I can use that term – and he also layers it with black humour, which gives it a knowing winking quality.

      There’s no doubt Miike is an extraordinary filmmaker – but I remember a literary debate between Brett Easton Ellis and Norman Mailer when Americcan Psycho came out. The book could only be sold in a brown paper bag.Many regarded the book as being pornographic – and Mailer, writing in The New Yorker I think it was, did an essay on the difference between art and pornography.

      This is many many years ago now, and I wished I’d kept the article, but essentially what Mailer was saying was that pornography doesn’t ask anything of you. Art does.

      These movies don’t ask anything of me, except where’s the remote, so I can switch it off!



    • I agree Julian –

      Peckinpah at the time was pilloried, but his violence now has become part of cinematic language.

      Tarantino uses screen violence with enormous intelligence.

      Miike is regarded as a genius, and perhaps he is, but I still find it very alienating.



  2. My personal opinion is that there is too much gratuitous violence and gratuitous sex in movies and on tv, and it does not add to the story. I am not so sure that it does not add to the relaxing of moral values in the culture. Anyone that knows me knows I am anything but a prude, but it has gotten way out of hand, and often adds nothing to the script or story.

    Last night I was watching “Boardwalk Empire”, which I normally don’t watch, but I had seen a few and found it entertaining. My mom and sisters were watching to. I had not seen any sex on the show before, but last night there was a full on, uninhibited sex scene that really added nothing to the program. I probably turned red. My mom grinned at me and said “Are you sure this is suitable for your 96 year old mother”. She is really cool. My dad was a methodist preacher and very strict on his moral values. Shortly after his death, I was watching some program with mom and it became a bit sexy and I suggested to her that maybe we should change to another channel. Her retort, “Daddy is no longer with us”. She is cool. I am lucky.



    • I remember that moment with your Mom. You wanted to change the channel and I really wanted to watch the show! We left it on and once she sat down you did as you said and offered to change it. I so loved it when she told us that! I will never forget it. She is very cool.

      But, I too feel the same way about so much of what they are showing on TV and in movies these days. It honestly makes no sense to me at a time that a person has unlimited opportunities to see nudity, pornography, etc why it’s included when it adds absolutely no value to the real message that person is trying to convey. It was different years ago when you could only see nudity in Playboy or XXX films, it made more sense. Now it’s just obnoxious and unnecessary. Who sounds like the prude now!!



    • Steve –

      our elders (meaning our mothers or fathers, if we’re lucky enough to still have them with us) sometimes shock me with their acceptance of this stuff.

      Jennifer’s mother, who is 85, will sit down and watch a movie like TED and laugh all the way through it. THE HANGOVER is one of her favourite movies.

      But I’m with you – I think there are sex scenes thrown into TV shows without their being any real reason, other than to spice it up. Sometimes the scenes are important, like in MAD MEN, to show the double standards etc, and particularly with Don Draper’s early life, but those scenes are done with some discretion.



      • Discretion and discernment are key. If they fit the story, great. Same with language. Many people do use the f word in real life, me included, although I have almost eliminated it since the Camino. It just happened. I don’t mind if it fits the stirs and makes it more believable.


        • It’s true Steve.

          Sometime profanity can be used like chilli in a stew – but you have to be careful when to use it, and make sure you don’t use it too liberally.



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