Friday, 2 May 2014

Gruesome and Graphic

Ann Cleeves, who writes the Vera and Shetland stories, claims Scandinavian fiction treats women victims badly. She doesn't like graphic violence against women and children. Her work is less violent because "we tend to write what we want to read." 
There have been studies on violence against women in the thriller genre. Is it necessary, or for entertainment? Some say it reflects sexism in society. Others think if a strong female predominates, such as Gillian Anderson's character in The Fall, then it is OK to have such violence against women. What do you think?

I think there is graphic violence right through tv these days, and often it is so gruesome I won't watch. Luther was one of these, and The Wire another. Somehow it has become a race for tv shows to show more and more graphic violence, often but not always against women. I don't want to see a man or child or a woman - or an animal - tortured. I don't read enough thrillers to know if the violence is in the text before it translates to the screen. I do know it is labelled as realism, sometimes gritty realism. I now know enough to be very wary of programmes hyped with this sort of label. 

It is possible to buy and read, or borrow and read, non-fiction accounts of forensic investigations into murders which - you would think - would turn the stomach of the ordinary citizen. Yet murders and stories of murderers have always had a fascination. When I worked in a public library the murder/war crimes section was one of the most popular. It seems the general public wants to be horrified, or turned on by graphic violence in the same way they want to be scared by vampire and ghost stories. 

 "I'm aware families sit around the telly to watch Vera, which is making entertainment out of murder," said Cleeves. "But I don't enjoy reading about people's pain. I tend to put myself in that position and it's not somewhere I want to be."

 I'm afraid that Ms Cleeves and I buck the trend. A lot of people do enjoy reading about people's pain and watching actors deliver it on screen.  Until they start avoiding or switching off, it will go on being delivered and will very likely get even more gruesome, if that is possible.


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