And I’m proud to be an American,
where at least I know I’m free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
-- Lee Greenwood
Depicting beauty gets a free pass compared to depicting violence. Mankind's history of brutality indicates that violence is as much -- if not more -- a determining factor in the creation of what now constitutes civilized self than our love for beautiful things. Why, then, no "that portrait of the beautiful Contessa is pure exploitation?" Accusations of exploitation only enter when there's a gaping wound involved (or prurient nudity, which is objected to on the grounds that it does violence to its subject -- an objection that is, in practice, limited to pornography for heterosexual men). It's assumed that there's something wrong with you for taking any sort of pleasure in the the depiction of the violent side of our cultural constitution. Despite that, I had a real enjoyable time the other day at the moving picture show thanks to Michael Haneke. Funny Games is a good, psychological thriller that's no more gruesome than Psycho, largely due to Haneke's mastery of Hitchockian prestidigitation. Just like Morrison in Florida, the meat of the matter is more suggested than shown. Many critics were distraught over Haneke's hooks-on-the-eyelids sadism anyway, referring to his film as another instance of "torture porn" and/or that it's nothing but a misery to sit through (at least for right-thinking folk):