I had to post this somewhere...this is an actual letter to the editor that made it to the print version of the Kansas City Star on Tuesday 1/24/12:
We do not go to the movies very often, but I do look for information in the Preview section’s “movies opening this week.” for something that we might be interested in seeing.
When I saw the ratings for the movie “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” I was shocked.
The rating is “R for brutal, violent content, including rape and torture, strong sexuality, graphic nudity and language.”
Who in their right mind would go to see such a movie?
, my reaction would probably be a good rolling of the eyes. After Drive
there is a little bit of that (and also considering the conservative Midwestern mindset I know too well that often glorifies violence, but when confronted with the blunt truth of some aspects of violence that this film portrays, says it's immoral, etc, etc.), but I'm more inclined to think there is a good question in there somewhere, beyond the initial reaction.
Seeing that film really opened my eyes to why we find objectionable acts perfectly okay ensconced in a 2-hour work of fiction. And it made me question myself a little, about why I find it okay to bear witness to brutal acts, buried underneath the promise of great performances and searing tension (which it delivered ten-fold for me).
I think what I would tell Bob is that we all secretly like to watch a train wreck infinitely more than a show on the history of trains. It's an elementary point of view that has certainly not been espoused before. We're all voyeurs into a life we're just merely interested in, but maybe don't want to partake in. I didn't want to become a bank robber after I saw Heat
for the first time, but getting a fraction of the rush of pulling off the score helped it become one of my favorite movies. And it's very possible to a smaller fraction of people, David's darker films have a similar effect but to my knowledge they've never been directly blamed for someone's murder. So by that logic, Fincher-0/Dexter
Which brings me to this. You can find a neutered-down version of the unsavory elements of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
on network television every night, most notably CBS (who, from what I've read recently, is developing a show in their prime-time mold centered around a loner female computer hacker). Maybe there are mystified, slightly angry letters to the editor in Kansas about the salacious nature of these shows, but it seems to me that when intelligent R-rated movies cover this ground, there's a more twitchy reaction.