The Screen of the Crime: Judging the Affect of Cinematic Violence
Source TitleSocial and Legal Studies: an international journal
University of Melbourne Author/sYoung, Alison
AffiliationSocial and Political Sciences
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsYOUNG, A. (2009). The Screen of the Crime: Judging the Affect of Cinematic Violence. Social & Legal Studies, 18 (1), pp.5-22. https://doi.org/10.1177/0964663908100331.
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Discussions of screen violence polarize around the question of whether images can cause people to behave differently. Proponents of this position point to the influence of images in other contexts; its critics reject the implication that individuals can be so simplistically motivated. Such debate is intensified by events such as the Columbine or Virginia Tech shootings, where cultural products are named as the causes of lethal violence. This article engages with the assumption that the violence in violent imagery is a relatively homogeneous category. It explores paradigms of cinematic violence through the analysis of exemplary scenes from four representative films ( The Matrix, Reservoir Dogs , Natural Born Killers and Elephant), each of which has been linked to violence flowing in and from the image. Each shows multiple killings in highly graphic ways, yet each deploys different representational techniques to produce a range of affective responses in the spectator. As such, the article seeks to answer the question of how to judge the affect of cinematic violence and to investigate the implication of the spectator in the affects and aesthetics of screen violence.
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