Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

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.

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