The Poetics of Film Violence
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Violent entertainment feeds on a certain paradox. Although violence is generally thought to be something frightening and horrifying, for a significant if not major part of the population its representations award pleasures of sorts. In an aesthetic context, those negative primary reactions can give rise to a variety of meta-emotions as a way of coping with, even achieving a kind of quasi mastery over, the concerns and anxieties the very thought of violence evokes in most of us.1 As was argued above, due to certain patterns of responding to things that are thought to be horrific or which entail the idea of loss, aesthetic detachment also allows us to experience violence and our own responses to it as something almost involuntarily fascinating. This affective structure can be exploited by certain narrative and more specifically cinematic means to create a variety effects ranging from laughter to shock. Often these are based on appealing to prevailing notions about good and evil, treated either in an entertainingly simplistic fashion or with the aim of exposing their underlying complexities. Poetics is the study of how works of art generate certain responses in the spectator, possibly with the aim of influencing his or her norms and notions concerning the real world. The purpose of the poetics of film violence is to explore how violence can function as an element of a film as an aesthetic whole.
KeywordsMoral Norm Film Industry Entertainment Industry Retributive Justice Fictional Narrative
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