Discussing \'Torture Porn\'
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Discussing \'Torture Porn\'

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To look at torture porn both as a horror sub-genre and as a cinematic reflection on social and political milieu, and make an attempt interpreting Hostel (2005) positioned as torture porn for revealing ...

To look at torture porn both as a horror sub-genre and as a cinematic reflection on social and political milieu, and make an attempt interpreting Hostel (2005) positioned as torture porn for revealing the underlying issues of political commentary inspired by Abu Ghraib abuse and torture in Iraq.

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Discussing \'Torture Porn\' Discussing \'Torture Porn\' Presentation Transcript

  • New Breed of Horror: A Preliminary Study on “Torture Porn” Hostel Wei-Yueh Chen Graduate School of Applied Media Arts, NTUA 2008/06/14
  • Summary
    • Introduction
    • The Definition and Features of
    • Torture Porn
    • Hostel : Reflection on Polity of Torture in
    • Abu Ghraib’s Abuse
    • Conclusion and Recommendation
  • Introduction: Controversial Billboard
    • Captivity ( 窒命寫真 )
    Dubbed torture porn , this new breed of cinema has horror movie stars – especially women – being killed off in more gruesome, highly sexualized ways than ever (O’ Regan, 2007.04.19)
  • The Questions Initiated by Critics
    • What kind of feature does torture porn have?
    • Why does torture porn become so controversial and offensive for audiences?
    • Does torture porn provide social and political commentaries for the contemporary society, especially in America?
  • The Definition and Features: Gory Spectacle
    • A sub-genre of horror films which are so dehumanizing, nasty and misogynist that they are collectively known either as gorno (a conflation of ‘gory’ and ‘porno’), or, more commonly, as torture porn (Cochrane, 2007.05.01)
    • The promising quality of higher levels of violence, including not just a considerable body count, but long, lingering scenes of terror, torture and pain
  • The Definition and Features: Torturer vs. Victims
    • Edelstein (2006) argues that torture porn is not just mere gory spectacle and turns to emphasize on the relationship between the torturer and the victims
    • The identity of killer/torturer is no longer an unbreakable psychopath or a supernatural monster; the victims are not always teenagers who enjoy sex and alcohol, just like the narrative patterns in slasher films of the 1980s
    • The killer/torturer and victims are all ordinary human beings ; everyone can become a killer or a victim
  • The Definition and Features: Pornographic Quality
    • Linda Williams (1999) notes that cinematic ‘implantation of perversions’ in ever more visible filmic bodies and in the enhanced vision of spectators goes hand in hand with the developing pleasures of the medium
    • Fredric Jameson (1992) mentions that pornographic films are thus only the potentiation of films in general, which ask us to stare at the world as though it were a naked body
    • According to Williams and Jameson’s statements, the spectacle of more filmic body is the key elements in pornographic films
  • Postmodern Experience of Fragmentation and Identity Crisis
    • Huang Han-yu (2007) suggests that postmodern culture may seem to be perverse and in this sense Gothic, a culture of enjoyment (painful pleasure) or wound culture
    • Postmodern wound culture as being driven by that passion for the real, which Žižek articulates mainly in his Welcome to the Desert of the Real , taking these to be symptomatic of late capitalist consumption
    • The postmodern horror film is visualizing a certain crisis of the body in relation to self-identity, both of which have perhaps metamorphosed into “amorphous” commodities, mere things for exchange and circulation
  • Hostel : Reflection on Polity of Torture in Abu Ghraib’s Abuse
    • Angela Ndalianis suggests that hardcore horror reflects intense social unease
    • Ndalianis notes that usually the violence is making some kind of commentary and becomes symbolic of some point of social crisis (cited in Benedictus, 2006.02.05)
  • Critics’ Association
    • The notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where the US military soldiers tortured and photographed Iraqis, is the core event many film critics can figure out in Hostel
    • Edelstein (2006) argues that we have engaged in a national debate about the morality of torture , fueled by horrifying pictures of manifestly decent men enacting brutal scenarios of domination at Abu Ghraib
  • Imagery of Trophy Photos
    • Philip Zimbardo (2007) observes that these trophy photos from Abu Ghraib can be seen as exhibitionistic , and also notes the link between torture and sexuality give trophy photos a pornographic quality that is disturbing, yet fascinating, for many viewers
    • In her essay Regarding the Torture of Others , Susan Sontag (2004) comments the sexual tortures in Abu Ghraib: “...And you wonder how much of the sexual tortures inflicted on the inmates of Abu Ghraib was inspired by the vast repertory of pornographic imagery available on the Internet – and which ordinary people, by sending out Webcasts of themselves, try to emulate”
  • Comparison (1) A hood-covered victim is ready to be tortured by a masked man in Hostel A powerless and terrified Iraqi stands on a box in Abu Ghraib
  • Comparison (2) Paxton who is tied on the chair confronts the German torturer in Hostel US soldiers take a photo with a pyramid built by Iraqis
  • Dehumanization and Political Demonology
    • Zimbardo suggests the dehumanization of the political foes is one of the most essential causes of turning these good US soldiers into evil torturers
    • Zimbardo (2007) notes that dehumanization occurs whenever some human beings consider other human beings to be excluded from the moral order of being a human person
    • The process of dehumanization in Abu Ghraib is compatible with what Michael Rogin calls political demonology , a tradition at the heart of American politics “consisting of the creation of monsters…by the inflation, stigmatization, and dehumanization of political foes” (cited in Lowenstein, 2005: 113)
  • Conclusions
    • Torture porn shows an act of representation of gory spectacle of the fragmented body, and uses this excessive body horror to give audiences the perversive pleasure. On the other hand, the relationship between the torturer and victim reveals the darkest nightmare of our everyday life
    • Hostel has the political agenda of anti-Americanism and the morality of torture in Abu Ghraib prison, and calls into question the justification of the American foreign policy after 9/11 and war on terror
  • Recommendations for Further Research
    • Torture porn movies are produced and directed by people from a group called Splat Pack , whose goal is to produce films with ultra-violent, excessive gory spectacles like the exploitation films of the 60s and 70s. The homage to low-budget exploitation films may create the torture “cycle” in recent years
    • Film critic Kim Newman claims that torture isn’t a recent invention, in the annals of human cruelty or the cinema of physical horror. Therefore, the earlier films that may influence the development of recent “torture porn” cycle can be discussed in detail
  • Thank You