Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday's Question is Tenkar's Question

I was going to do a Friday Question, but Tenkar already asked a very good question, Which Has More Lasting Effect - Shocking or Disturbing Imagery?  I remember this question being asked back in the 80s (which Tenkar uses Nightmare on Elm Street as an example) when all the slasher films were popular.  Recently I've seen it turn from the torture porn movies of Saw and Hostel to more creepy, paranormal films.

I think shocking is popular because it is over the top, Kabuki theater.  Most of them just came up with fancy was of killing things.  It's not serious.  A lot of times it's so outrageous its funny.  But there is the danger of coming off juvenile, Beavis and Butthead snickers, mouth breather entertainment.

Similiar dangers occur for the disturbing content.  If not done correctly can be boring.  If over thought becomes an intellectual morass of justification and self-righteousness.  I see this happen a lot with serial killer flicks.  Hannibal being the first that comes to mind.  But, if done correctly it gets stuck in your head.  You think about it unexpectedly.

I am way more in the camp of disturbing.  Shocking does very little for me.  Even when I was a teen-ager the slasher films bored me.  I like the spooky stuff.  The things that are unseen.  The thump in the dark corner just as you go to sleep.  And more serious stuff like I remember the disturbing imagery from Schindler's List more than I ever did any Jason/Michael Myer/Freddie Krueger/Jigsaw scenes.  I prefer to read Ghost Story by Peter Straub than The Books of Blood by Clive Barker.

It's a matter of taste.  Which side do you fall on or like a true libertine, you'll find pleasure in both.


  1. I agree. The shocking is more momentary jolting. Disturbing tends to stay with you. Of course, there is overlap between the two.

  2. I agree, disturbing is worse. And why I refuse to watch stupid films like Saw and Hostel (omg I saw the first one and was like "Whaaaaa....???").

  3. I guess I must be a true libertine then as I enjoy both in the right context and delivered with the right level of art. I can enjoy both the unsettling chills of disturbing imagery while embracing the Grand Guignol splatter of over-the-top shocks as well.

  4. I agree with Trey. The worst/best of them do both to enhance the effect. The movie Antichrist comes to mind. Famous for it's scandal at the Cannes Film Festival because of a shocking mutilation scene, but overall it's a much more disturbing than shocking movie.

    Depending on mood and circumstances I could go for one, none or both (I wouldn't go camping alone and see Blair Witch Project, but with a few friends it could be fun, stuff like that...).

    As a DM it's easier for me to produce shocking images, though.

  5. To be truly disturbing, I think it needs to be delayed and only fully understood when you sit back and glean the full implications.

  6. The suspense is usually more gripping than either the "shock" or the "disturbing." That's why the Twilight Zone gremlin-on-the-wing is so effective.

  7. I'm coming in late, but...

    I think they're often the same. For example, the whole baby-rape scene in Seriban Film was extremely shocking and disturbing. I'll likely never forget it.

    The birthing scene in Human Centipede 2 was equally shocking and disturbing.

    I think shocking mainly refers to timing of events and disturbing is more content-based.