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  1. #1
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Default Good Vs. Evil in Horror Films

    What's your reckoning on this topic? We've come a long, long way from the days of good guys were white hats and bad guys were black hats, vampires arent depraved, perverted and unnatural revenants anymore so much as X-Men like and romanticised figures of human love and affect or at least envy.

    I've read in the past about how all the traditional horror writing and universal studios style monster flicks and their emulators are a kind of anthropomorphism, we depict the worst of human attributes in an objectified "other" which is eventually subdued, overcome or killed by the best of human attributes in the form of an objectified "hero". If that's the case then what's happening now? Is it just a more mature recognition of that old say that:-

    There is so much good in the worst of us,
    And so much bad in the best of us,
    That it hardly behooves any of us
    To talk about the rest of us.
    Edward Wallis Hoch, Marion (Kansas) Record
    (1849 - 1925)

    Or is it just a sort of post-modern cynicism? I tend to find the abandonment of black-white reasoning too quickly to be alienating, often a more ambiguous, amorphious, either-or and its all six and half a dozen (or two sixes as I've heard said recently) reasoning is cowardly.

    It makes me think, I only recently saw all the Nightmare on Elm street movies, when I was younger they terrified me, even the cardboard cut outs in the video shops but I still rationalised the monsters featured in them as monsters, as fitting the traditional frame of good vs. evil but as time went on the monsters themselves became kind of celebrities (something that Wes Craven tried to portray with Freddy meeting his fans in New Nightmare) which confused things.

    Now there's movies like Saw which contain monsterous acts but have seriously blurred lines of good and evil, the content seems real S&M most of the time. Anyone got a view?

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    Priestess Of Syrinx Katsuni's Avatar
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    People thought about things in much simpler terms back then as well, yeu have to keep in mind. Black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. They honestly believed that having a low brow meant yeu were stupid, that the size of yeur brain determined yeur IQ, and that certain facial features were obvious proof yeu were "evil".

    With semi-recent events in history though... we've started to learn that the world really isn't as black and white as we used to pretend it was. Some people still foolishly cling to it and honestly believe that ughly = evil, and good = beautiful, but it's hardly the case. Some even honestly believe good and evil exist.

    Seriously, take for example the 'war on terror' crap. America was "good" they were in the "right" because they had "God" on their side. The terrorists, however, were "good", they were in the "right" because they had "God" on their side.

    Obviously there's something a liiiiiittle bit concerning about these two points of view, because they're exactly the same...

    People now are gradually coming to the realization that life isn't that simple. That moral decisions are complex matters and have alot of factors involved and aren't just a simple "on/off switch".

    As such, people don't relate to the naive black/white so much anymore. Our heroes are darker; our villians brighter. The mad scientist is willing to sacrifice millions in order to save their child. The hero is willing to accept that the death of innocents is part of the price paid to rid the world of their perceived "evil". We take to these characters better now because we understand them more. We empathize with them more, and see where they're coming from, and that makes it easier for us to put ourselves into their shoes.

    These characters wouldn't've existed in the 1950's or so, strict black and white rules needed to be established at the height of the cold war; right and wrong, good and evil, us and them. "we" are good, "they" are evil. There is no middle ground; propaganda creates the world into two tones with no shades in between. The world has run on propaganda for thousands of years though, and we're finally starting to break free of that.

    Starting, not finished, not by a long shot, but starting.

    Many resist, many were brought up by the previous generation of idealists with their heads in the clouds, with no grounding on reality.

    So many truly believe hitlar was pure evil, that he could do no right; in his own mind, he was the saviour to his people. Stalin was a hero. McCarthy was a hand of justice. Bush was the hand of God himself. These people aren't "evil", they just didn't care about anyone other than their own people. They were narrow minded individuals who saw nothing outside of their own little world as having value. Chairman Mao may've allied with russia for a time, but china was always his first priority. The starvation of millions of peasants was his attempt to forcibly increase the growth of the economy.

    People never do things to be "evil"; they do it because they think they're "right".

    Serial killers, rapists, arsonists, political assassins, they do these things because they feel that their personal values are more important than those of the people whose own values they breech.

    In the end, it all comes down to ourselves and who we are; we are selfish at our cores. Each and every one of us. The only true difference is how far we extend the proxy of self; do we consider our family to be an extension of ourselves? Whot of our country? Our race? Our species? Of life in general? Yeu don't help someone else because it's the "right" thing to do; yeu help them because it makes yeu feel warm and fuzzy inside, because yeu can put it on yeur resume as volunteer work, because yeu love them and if they're happy then it makes yeu happy, because of yeur reputation, because yeur conscience would be screaming at yeu for a week later because of not doing it. Yeu are a slave to yeur own self, and the few who have escaped that trap, are the ones who have turned apathetic to the world as a whole and don't care about anything anymore.

    As this understanding of our minds as a whole slowly begins to unfold, we realize that black and white heroes and villains have no place in our world. We can't relate to them. It breaks the willing suspension of disbelief. We just can't accept that the 'bad guys' on captain planet honestly want to blow millions of dollars just so they can pollute crap for the sake of polluting it. We can understand the guy who's greedy enough that they will allow an oil tanker to spill if it means they make a huge profit. We 'get' the guy who uses his good looks and charm to seduce women for a one night stand then leaves them dead in a ditch. We understand the trials of the hunchback and that he just wanted to be accepted and loved.

    As we mature as a civilization, the "evil is ughly" and "good is beautiful" will die out, as will our other silly views on such things. Fiction all comes down to a reflection of our own selves; yeu write whot yeu know, and as we learn more of ourselves, so, too, shall our fantasies grow into more complex and awe inspiring creations.

    We learned this, before, long ago. The egyptians. The greeks. The romans. We knew of our flaws and understood they are both a strength and a weakness. Civilizations falter, and so do their knowledge and understanding. We shall learn our lesson, in time, once again. The face of god shall become distorted, less perfect, and less ideal, a flawed, human character. The devil and his fallen angels shall be learned to not be totally 100% evil but rather good with a tainted flaw of greed or pride. And when we have learned our lesson, we shall come full circle; the next great war or catastrophe shall grip us once again, and we shall return to the ways of propaganda, and simpler concepts.

    For we are a simple minded people, and all of us are fools. In the end, we are bound to the cycle, until we acknowledge it, and defeat it. And we have yet to admit that we are trapped. Until we can confess to the problem, there can be no escape.

    So yes, the lines have blurred, but they have blurred before in the past already. This is hardly a new thing; our civilization is just relearning whot had been forgotten so long ago, now that we do not have fear gripping our hearts and staying our minds. Now that we can truly think, we can see things as they are. This is a transitory time, a period of change. And it is all too brief, before we shall be returned to our black and white vision of the world once more.

  3. #3
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I've read in the past about how all the traditional horror writing and universal studios style monster flicks and their emulators are a kind of anthropomorphism, we depict the worst of human attributes in an objectified "other" which is eventually subdued, overcome or killed by the best of human attributes in the form of an objectified "hero".
    Yes.

    Or is it just a sort of post-modern cynicism?
    yes.

    There is truth to both, actually, as ideals.

    We need role models to challenge us and give us a sense of who we could be.
    However, we can't identify with heroes who are just really a bunch of bs, who look good on the surface but really are just irrelevant to the average person.

    I tend to find the abandonment of black-white reasoning too quickly to be alienating, often a more ambiguous, amorphious, either-or and its all six and half a dozen (or two sixes as I've heard said recently) reasoning is cowardly.
    See, I find thinking like this to be lazy.

    There are multiple reasons for this phenomena, and multiple approaches -- not the typical either/or binary rationality that is typically espoused.

    I think the concept of "anti-hero" was extremely important in Western cinema and literature, because for too far long people found it easy to reduce morality to binary opposites. Good guys were avatars of moral perfection, bad guys were evil personified. In my review of our culture over the last 100 years, I see that that concept has been extremely destructive to communication, relationships, and families... and even contributes to the inequities in culture regarding gender, race, religion, etc. It allows for hubris to grow. It resulted in the Cold War with the USSR, where two superpowers got close to blowing the hell out of each other.

    Realistically, people are not binary -- we are a mix of profane and profound.
    Thus, espousing a binary philosophy is not just a lie but will contribute to a decline in cultural mentality as people's ideas become further and further detached from realism.

    Now, to go in the OTHER direction, I think the anti-hero motif has been taken too far by lazy people... just as the perfect hero motif was taken too far earlier by the other crowd.

    Again, people are mixed. I'm not into glorifying our heroes; I'm also not into glorifying our anti-heroes. Both are a deviation from reality, to me.

    I think relationships work best when we can accept that everyone we meet is flawed -- that they are capable of both good and bad. And I find it inspiring when someone who is that human is shown acting heroically in a tough situation. I'm less inspired by some larger-than-life hero and more inspired by the average person who is flawed but manages to find some nugget of virtue inside anyway and chase it no matter how s/he is bloodied.

    Now there's movies like Saw which contain monsterous acts but have seriously blurred lines of good and evil, the content seems real S&M most of the time. Anyone got a view?
    I don't consider Saw to be much but one more slasher schtick generated to stimulate the crowds and raise money for the movie studios. I'm not sure anyone even sees Saw as an anti-hero. (When I think anti-hero, I'm far more inclined to mention Donaldson's "Thomas Covenant" or "Dirty Harry" Callahan ... or maybe start veering into the realm of shows like The Sopranos. Serious explorations of the anti-hero concept.) Extreme anti-hero worship seems to me to just be a shallow kneejerk reaction by the culture to extreme hero worship from 50 years ago, where everyone looked up to their heroes but could not identify with them.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  4. #4
    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    I like antiheros. Such as the character of Chev Chelios in Crank/Crank 2. Or Newman/Redford pair in such movies as Butch Casedy and the sundance kid or Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Joesy Wales. The pure white hat paladin/lawful good types get on my nerves.
    I redact everything I have written or will write on this forum prior to, subsequent with and or after the fact of its writing. For entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously nor literally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
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  5. #5
    Priestess Of Syrinx Katsuni's Avatar
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    To Jennifer: yeah, people do get carried away on such ideals. Pendulum swings too far one way, swings back too far the other as yeu said in another post somewheres recently.

    Hence, we're stuck in a cycle, but it's also controlled by more than just the classic overcorrection; things like the cold war created those strict good/evil beliefs as well as they were required for the propaganda to work. Do yeu think the whole "russia is evil! We are good!" advertising would've really worked were people thinking about anti-heroes as they are right now? They would've questioned it, and that's the last thing they wanted people doing back then.

    Ideally, we should have someone probably about 3/4 of one and 1/4 of the other I think. People with almost no morals still do have morals, they just tend to be twisted perversions of such. People who are 'good' still have flaws, but they don't overtake their whole personality usually.

    Right now I think yeu're correct in the belief that we overcorrected, but maybe it'll be properly nudged down this time. That's assuming, of course, that the whole muslim, iran, N Korea, and china thing doesn't get out of hand. Because then we'll just get shoved back into black and white again.

  6. #6
    Priestess Of Syrinx Katsuni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spamtar View Post
    I like antiheros. Such as the character of Chev Chelios in Crank/Crank 2. Or Newman/Redford pair in such movies as Butch Casedy and the sundance kid or Clint Eastwood in The Outlaw Joesy Wales. The pure white hat paladin/lawful good types get on my nerves.
    Honestly I like evil pure white lawful good paladin types. I want a paladin who is so ridiculously lawful good that they go freaking berserk on anyone who shows even the slightest deviation from their OCD form of 'right' and 'wrong'.

    I'd like to say they're not realistic, but sadly there's a few too many of them running around... they are amusing to watch when they're just a character though. It's just sad when yeu see them in person though.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Swings and roundabouts Jennifer? Like from one extreme to another?

    Have you seen a film from the UK called Eden Lake? I found it genuinely disturbing and dont think I'd want to rewatch it (I've seen it twice) but it epitomised the rejection of just about all conventional good vs. evil characterisation but had the characters behave in both good and evil ways.

    Personally it made me think about the amount of communities I know of which resembled that featured in the film, normal hostility creating sick individuals capable of major violence.

    I dont think the world is binary but its a vision which I tend to find more worthy, flaws and all, and it is flawed because that sort of simple moralism is at the root of things like scriptural literalism, tyrannical orthodoxy or ideology but the alternative is even less appealing.

    Cheers, Jenn, you always give me pause for thought.

  8. #8
    mrs disregard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Now there's movies like Saw which contain monsterous acts but have seriously blurred lines of good and evil, the content seems real S&M most of the time. Anyone got a view?
    The line between good and evil is blurred by the vigilante justice Jigsaw is so fond of.

    The audience can relate to the sadism because the victims aren't all that innocent.

  9. #9
    Priestess Of Syrinx Katsuni's Avatar
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    Oh this isn't a horror film, but I'd highly recommend reading "Angelmass". It's kinda heavy on the sci-fi stuffs, but the basic premise and plot twist is <3

    I'd write the explaination out for those who don't feel like reading a 500ish page book, but I can't seem to figure out how to set a spoiler space that yeu have to highlight to see it... could just set it to white text but that wouldn't cover people who aren't using a white background... hrm.

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    Ghost Monkey Soul Vizconde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katsuni View Post
    Honestly I like evil pure white lawful good paladin types. I want a paladin who is so ridiculously lawful good that they go freaking berserk on anyone who shows even the slightest deviation from their OCD form of 'right' and 'wrong'.
    I too like these types of characters because they satire real world buffoons who think they are the good guy but cause more grief than sorrow. On the other hand I felt the characters on both sides of Inglorious Scoundrels to be unlikeable. On the other hand tend to love the vigilante/revenge trip in general as long as they production values are not crap. For example like the old Charles Bronson Death Wish I and II. (Don't know why I like Charlie in DW but not Brad in IB I think it was because the harm/wrong was personal to Charlie and Brad's character just seemed to jump on the bandwagon because he liked to scalp)

    PS. Although Torture Porn/Graphic I thought the vengeance by the heroine in Edan Lake was just. I think it was the killing of kids (even evil psychopathic kids) that violated traditional film/videogames taboos that hit a nerve.
    I redact everything I have written or will write on this forum prior to, subsequent with and or after the fact of its writing. For entertainment purposes only and not to be taken seriously nor literally.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    Spamtar - a strange combination of boorish drunkeness and erudite discussions, or what I call "an Irish academic"

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