movies, I was astounded the other night by another such flick, Shoot ’Em Up, written and directed by another American, Michael Davis. Like the Willis movie it was made in 2007 but though fast-moving it wasn’t nearly as exciting as Wiseman’s film. However Davis’s film was the most violent film I have ever seen and I wonder how it landed on M-Net’s action channel.
Shoot ’Em Up was certainly aptly named. The body count was extraordinarily high – so high that I actually lost count. The always likeable Clive Owen plays a character called Mr Smith (original, that) who comes to the rescue of a pregnant woman in a gangland shootout. He even becomes a midwife, delivers the baby and eventually lands up being the reluctant adoptive father – all this while being shot at by the baddies, led by Paul Giamatti playing a rotten businessman. I watched in grim fascination, wondering whether the film had been telecast before and whether it would be screened again. It was screened in a very late slot when I saw it, so it’s doubtful many children would have seen it.
I don’t get to see every movie released but I don’t remember Shoot ’Em Up appearing on the cinema circuit.
All of this got me wondering whether the debate on film and TV violence has run out of steam, particularly in a violent society like ours. If I remember correctly, UCT’s Mana Slabbert put out a learned publication several years ago in which she warned inter alia against the imitative dangers inherent in violent films. I wonder what she would think of Shoot ’Em Up.
And I’m sure that if she were still alive, British TVs wannabe nemesis of yore, Mrs Mary Whitehouse, would have got her worsted knickers in a knot, if she had seen Shoot ’Em Up.
I recalled Canadian director Norman Jewison’s futuristic 1975 film, Rollerball, set in the 21st century in a society where violence had been outlawed – but was allowed if watched in an arena. It was an interesting theory but as a movie it hardly stirred the juices. Anyway, Roman emperor Nero had been doing that sort of thing for years – and it didn’t stop the Romans from behaving any better when they went about their daily doings.
So is this a call for a return to censorship? Not blooming likely, but there would be no harm in getting out Mrs Slabbert’s research again and looking at her findings afresh.