Violence!

January 23, 2010

So I’ve been doing this stage makeup series lately, enlargements of images in stage makeup books that show you how to create the realistic effect that something horrifying and traumatic has happened to someone.  I am excited about the images but feel a little but like a rubbernecker so I’ve been wondering why my military work, which was largely devoid of violence (the whole idea of a sniper is that you can’t see him/her) has curved now into up-close gore.

There are lots of easy psychological explanations for this having to do with intense prolonged frustration, but what I’m more interested in is the idea of suffering as spectacle.  As theatre.  I mean, I watch COPS whenever I’m home on a Saturday night and it’s suffering and it’s spectacle and I love it.  And I dislike myself for loving it the same way I love watching Hoarders even though it’s alarming and depressing and I usually feel genuinely bad for people who can’t seem to overcome their hoarding compulsons.  (This weeks’ episode is especially a downer.) 

There’s something about the idea of photography and video making it acceptible to stare at suffering that I find very interesting.  It’s as if the remove is enough to let us off the hook, as viewers, of any kind of moral repsonsibility to either intervene or to give the sufferer the dignity of their privacy.  Of course, all the people on Cops and Hoarders have signed extensive legal waivers granting us the right to gawk at them, but the same is not true with, say, refugees in Haiti or the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, for example.  But you could argue there’s social responsibility to show the rest of the world what’s really going on in these areas, but what’s problematic is that we only see the “money shots,” we never see, for example, eight hours of footage of homeless Haitians waiting for rations or for the long stretches of tedium that take up most of the military occupations abroad.  So that’s what I’m interested in, but I think the way in is to work through/around the gore in order to be able to see what’s behind it.

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One Response to “Violence!”

  1. janna Says:

    Jordan just learned how to do a really good sunburn in makeup class. Hopefully they will be teaching some good blood and guts skills considering the tuition rate.


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