Ill Effects: The Media/Violence Debate

By Martin Barker; Julian Petley | Go to book overview

8

'LOOKS LIKE IT HURTS'

Women's responses to shocking entertainment

Annette Hill

'It was very violent, very gory but I really, really enjoyed it-so there you are.

(21-year-old female student)

In the early days of our relationship, my partner often took me to the movies. We saw Reservoir Dogs, Bad Lieutenant, Man Bites Dog, and Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer all in the space of a few months. These films had a reputation; they were examples of a 'new brutalism' in cinema, and we were warned by family, friends and concerned film reviewers to steer clear of them, in case this new breed of violent movies warped our minds, and gave us murderous intentions. 1 We loved them. The films were challenging, exciting, in-your-face. And we were not alone. Other people enjoyed watching these movies too.

This chapter is about movie-goers, like me, who enjoy watching shocking entertainment. The media effects tradition commonly perceives fans of violent movies as either social deviants or vulnerable viewers (Barlow and Hill, 1985; Van Evra, 1990). In Ben Elton's Popcorn, a novel about media effects, the psychopathic murderer is a fan of violent movies: he tells a Hollywood director 'you make killing cool' (Elton, 1996:282). 2 Such stigmatisation of viewers of violent film dominates discussion of audiences and media violence. 3 My research into fans of violent movies problematises the media effects tradition and its presumption that viewing pleasure is based on deviancy, and amorality.

In this chapter I summarise this research. My main research aim was to give fans of violent movies a voice. Scanning through the many books on media violence I realised the natural audience for violent movies was almost invisible. 4 What is more, the natural female audience for violent movies appeared to be in hiding. 5 I told myself: I like to watch violent movies; I am not a psychopath (trust me on this); there must be more people like me who want to talk about watching shocking entertainment. I was right. There isn't space in this chapter to outline the full findings of my discussions with

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Ill Effects: The Media/Violence Debate
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • References 25
  • 1 - The Newson Report 27
  • 2 - The Worrying Influence of 'Media Effects' Studies 47
  • Notes 60
  • 3 - Electronic Child Abuse? 63
  • Notes 76
  • 4 - Living for Libido; Or, 'Child's Play Iv' 78
  • 5 - Just What the Doctors Ordered? 87
  • References 108
  • 6 - Once More with Feeling 111
  • References 125
  • 7 - I Was a Teenage Horror Fan 126
  • 8 - 'Looks like It Hurts' 135
  • 9 - Reservoirs of Dogma 150
  • 10 - Us and Them 170
  • References 184
  • 11 - Invasion of the Internet Abusers 186
  • 12 - On the Problems of Being a 'trendy Travesty' 202
  • References 224
  • Index 225
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