Rees' Pieces: May You Have a Short and Low Budget Life

Ben Rees

I was seriously disturbed after seeing the somewhat recent movie “Chernobyl Diaries,” or rather, the trailer (I’m sure you don’t walk away with much more after seeing the whole thing). It wasn’t the mutated goblin-people that got to me, nor was it the blood and gore. Instead, what truly scared me was the realization that people have a strange fixation, no, obsession with death. This morose obsession does not revolve around the consistent, inescapable encroachment of death; rather, it is fueled by our sick desire to not only see, but also comprehend all of the horrendous ways a human body can be destroyed. The simple Braveheart-esque sword plunge has lost its entertainment factor and now is being replaced by things like putting someone’s limbs in an automatic pencil sharpener, fueled by an electric current from a 1987 Honda battery into his unsuspecting nipples.

According to Spike TV’s last chance at any sort of ratings, there are “1000 Ways to Die.”  Why do we need to know all the obscure ways that our heads can possibly be smashed? It’s because we are constantly undergoing a kind of desensitization. Remember “ER?” The show ran from 1994-2009, making it a program that effectively spanned the equivalent of a millennium in the special effects galaxy. Even when blood looked like nothing more than barbeque sauce, in the early 90s, people grimaced and cringed. Even a few years ago, during the Mel Gibson “sugar-tits” era, “The Passion of the Christ” was thought to be the most graphic thing on the big screen. Since then, we have greatly surpassed anything that was thought up by “Mad Max.”

What happened? Why do we need to see horrible things happen to unsuspecting, innocent people? In these movies, the person who usually gets caught in a paper shredder isn’t even a bad individual. We’ve moved passed karma and have become fans of indiscriminate robo-shark attacks.

I’ll tell you what happened. We are bored. As people, we’ve become so accustomed to immediate gratification that we no longer care about what happens between the start of the movie and when the characters are killed off. We’ve written off all engagement in plot, and all we want to see is when the mutant bats eat someone’s eyes out. The best proof of this transformation I can give is this: when any group of people get together to watch the Oscars, absolutely nobody there has seen even half of the nominated films. I don’t just mean the obscure silent ones from New Guinea, but even the pictures that have a good deal of cinematic quality were unseen, which apparently nobody wanted to because it was over two hours long and didn’t show Channing Tatum’s testicles in 3D.

I don’t mean to accuse these low budget films of being total wastes of space and time, but please do yourselves and the greater American populace a favor: one time this year, just once, go and see a quality movie with a deep plot line. You’ll feel good about yourself and maybe, just maybe, you’ll enjoy a movie without a disemboweling scene.

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