Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Fringe" and the "Off" button

I'd seen the ads and so decided to give the new Fox series "Fringe" a try. Since J. J. Adams, the originator of ABC's "Lost" (which I very much enjoy) was one of those behind the new series, I deemed it worth a look.

I knew there was going to be some gore and violence in it--what sci-fi based thriller nowadays doesn't? I'll put up with a limited amount of gore if it's incidental to the show and there's a good storyline going on ("Heroes" was kinda iffy in this regard at first, but then settled down). And I don't have a problem with violence per se so long as it's done smartly; I just watched "No Country for Old Men" last night, and even enjoyed--if that's the right word for it--the brutal "Sin City".

I watched the Fringe premiere, and then the second show of the series. This second episode opens with a prostitute having just gotten impregnated with some sort of abomination, which rapidly grows within her, inflicting excruciating pain, and is then followed by her agonizing death. The next victim is another woman, picked up at a bar, drugged, and then upon awakening subjected to open brain surgery, accessed through her face, and in full conscious awareness.

The episode then broke for a commercial. I stopped playback and cancelled the DVR's recording of the series.

I know it's the stock-in-trade of many crime shows and thrillers, but I have very little tolerance for seeing women, even if they are fictional, being tortured in the name of TV entertainment.

I don't know what rationale the producers of such shows use to defend this little plot device--"Don't be a prostitute", "Don't leave a bar to go to a warehouse with some creepy guy", or "See how monstrous this guy is, think of the catharsis you'll feel when he's caught and justice is served!"

No.

The acts may be fictional, and it's all just "acting", but the images are real, and stick in your brain. There's enough real brutality in the world that there's no need for me to bring high-definition, Dolby Audio, you-are-there in-closeup visuals into my home.

I fiercely oppose censorship, but I do favor the "Off" button, and that's all that Fringe and shows of its ilk are ever going to get from me.

1 comment:

ldso said...

I have a similar sense when it comes to dramatic violence; I enjoyed "Sin City" as well, but don't watch "NCIS" any more because there is always some burnt or mangled corpse on the coroner's table. I guess I prefer that some things are left to the imagination. I don't have any attention span for "gross-out" stuff that is just there for shock value. The problem with shock value is that you always have to be doing something more shocking, or lose your audience. I choose the OFF button as well with such material. Great blog, and by the way I hope to someday be a Terrible Programmer as well :)