Or 12 Years a Slave
or especially not The Passion of The Christ
and probably not even Braveheart
I saw a whipping scene in a shitty reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood starring Isabella Rossellini and Craig T. Nelson from Coach* when I was about 6 and have never been the same. It was not particularly graphic or shot in close view, being a kids movie and all, but it did lead me to discover that I just do not process any scenes depicting torture, sadistic violence or corporeal human suffering like a reasonable person. Rather, I am seriously shaken and horrified for an unreasonably long, long time afterwards. It affects my ability to sleep or to think about ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE HORRIFIC SCENE I have just witnessed for a disproportionately long, long-ass time afterwards, too.
It’s weird, I know.
I suspect most normal people are actually able to separate reality and the movies. Not I.
I mitigate this defect with a combination of research and excuses. In 10th grade we had to watch Glory in history class and I told my teacher that I felt sick and got a pass to go to the nurse. I carefully read the synopses of Game of Thrones on EW.com prior to viewing any episode so I know what scenes to hastily excuse myself from when I do watch it. I look up other movies on random Christian sites because they are usually very explicit with a play-by-play about the violence depicted in each scene.
And most of the time I just ask my close friends who know of my irrational fear and see a lot of movies.
It really sucks sometimes, as in Catching Fire, because I really loved reading The Hunger Games book series but I don’t think I’ll be able to watch either of the subsequent movies. Also, it dawned on me today that I should probably give up my dream of becoming an E! correspondent because the prudent thing when interviewing a celebrity about their movie is to watch it before hand.
My reaction to these kind of scenes, even mild ones, is obviously much stronger than normal, but in the case of movies such as 12 Years a Slave or The Passion of The Christ–movies that seem to exist specifically to give people the same kind of horrifying reactions I so fervently avoid–I am really freakin’ bewildered in addition to horrified.
Just like I abhor the sadistic violence scenes, I equally abhor the masochistic tendencies of people who seek them out because they feel it somehow enriches their human experience or something ridiculous like that.
When I was in college my roommate urged me to see The Passion of The Christ because she felt it was something everyone needed to see to better understand what Jesus went through. For the record, she was also a strong Christian, which colors her perception of the experience in a different way than mine BUT I disagreed with her logic anyway.
Ask anyone who has ever experienced profound suffering, if they had a choice whether to experience it or not experience it, I suspect most of them would choose not to. Thats how I feel about subjecting myself to The Passion of The Christ. I choose not to (suffer).
This goes back to why I disagree with the whole notion of any kind of religious self-flagellation or even giving something up for Lent. If Jesus suffered SPECIFICALLY so YOU don’t have to, isn’t that a slap in the face to then intentionally subject yourself to suffering in spite of that? (in the case of Lent the suffering is questionable of course–giving up carbs is hardly tantamount to Jesus’ experience, which in itself is, to me, an additional slap in the face but whatever) Lent post.
But back to the movies–people like my boyfriend, who approach them from an artistic standpoint, can sit through some seriously depraved shit and see metaphors (about Nazis ) instead of images (of teenagers getting mutilated). Meanwhile, I can’t unsee the teenagers.
He will watch 12 Years a Slave and The Passion of The Christ through that same lens and be totally fine, but I can’t say he thinks it will make him a better person to have sat through it. And I’m glad for that, because I don’t believe that it will, either.
So… ultimately, I say watch whatever you want but, for Christsakes (pun) don’t do it unless you enjoy it on an entertainment level.
And lastly, if you’re the type of person who truly gets enjoyment out of the prospect of human suffering, whether real or fictional, you’re everything thats wrong with the world and I hate you.