Throughout the semester we have analyzed the various ways fear, anxiety and paranoia are invoked in our minds. We learned that while for some such feelings are triggered by complex psychological scenarios, others can get scared by mere images full of blood and gore. We tried to understand what makes us humans so fascinated with violence and torture of our own species. I consider myself a rather compassionate and humane being, yet I cannot explain the rush of excitement that fills me when I watch another sequel of SAW. I reassure myself that it is mere curiosity, because I could never enjoy such a horrific image if I knew it was real.
But what about young kids who do not yet understand the thin line between reality and fiction? Should they be protected from seeing such movies on TV? Censorship based on age is a big topic in America, as scientists continue to argue whether it really desensitizes kids and makes them more cruel. When I was a kid we played war and pretended to kill each other as a joke. Has media taken it to another level? Or is it all about responsible parenting and the right explanation can prevent a child from drawing the wrong conclusion from what he sees.

Last week my nephew, who is only 5 years old came over our house. He was very excited to show me a new game on the computer. Having the most primitive graphics, the sole effect of the game is its creativity. The premise of the game is to find various ways to release your anger by murdering your boss. The game is incredibly cruel and at time my laughter turned into shock. My nephew on the other hand, was dying from laughter. I wondered what was going through his head and how he perceives the concepts of pain and death. I was sure that he doesn’t have full understanding of what he sees on screen after he asked me if Chucky was real and began to cry asking me to stay by his side.
What do you think? How protected should our young children be? Are we overreacting or on the contrary, should we be taking this subject more seriously? While you’re at it enjoy the game, for the mature adults that we are! And if you have any piled up anger agaisnt your boss, here’s a great way to release it!
Here’s the link!

And here are some beautiful images!

Inside the mind of a murderer…

Having watched both Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, one can’t help but wonder what drives serial killers to commit such atrocious crimes. I usually take the Freudian approach and search for the answer in their troubled childhood. This person had to somehow be brought up differently to lead him or her to not have the same emotions as us, same sense of morality.

Pedro Alonso López is considered to be one of the most infamous murderers of all time. He is said to have killed over 300 victims. I learned that his mother, a prostitute with 13 children, caught him fondling his younger sister when he was eight years old. She threw him out of the house. He was then picked up by a pedophile, taken to a deserted house and repeatedly sodomized. Later, he was taken in by an American family and enrolled in a school for orphans. He allegedly ran away, either with a teacher from his school, or because he was molested by a teacher. Furthermore, at 18, he was gang-raped in prison. There’s no justification for what he did, but this certainly gives us some insight into how tragic events shaped his character.

However, what incites more fear is facing a serial killer that is seemingly normal but leads an alternative life full of murder and cruelty. One that gives no explanation for his actions, no warning signs. One such famous murder was Richard Kuklinski –  “the Iceman”.  He was an ordinary man. He had a job, a wife, children, and as we later find out a hobby! In the following interview with him, we can see how he got his nickname, having had no feelings as he committed the crimes.

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A couple of weeks ago I was browsing the internet in search of some scenery pictures of the city I am from in Ukraine. I kept coming across references to the “Dnepropetrovsk maniacs”. I thought they are some local band or maybe a motorcicle gang. I then found out that it was a group of guys who murdered for fun. They started with stray dogs and later moved on to humans. They tortured and then killed their victims and recorded it all on camera to keep as memories. What’s more is that they would attend their victims’ funerals and desecrate their gravesides. I was disgusted to find out that these teenagers came from fairly wealthy families and simply took this up as a hobby. I searched for answers; I tried to blame their parents. In interviews, they denied that their children could commit such things, claiming that they were framed by the police. But there are endless pictures and videos showing them committing the crimes and enjoying them! Here is some news footage.

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A video of one of the murders made it onto the internet. Movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween dont scare me much, so I began to watch the movie out of curiosity. You can easily find the video online and has a whole lot of information on it. But I urge you not to. I am not exxagerating when I saw that it took me days to recover from it, and the images linger in my mind to this day. The three murderers attacked a middle aged ma, a recent cancer survivor. They used a hammer and a screwdriver to slowly kill him, but what made the video most tragic, is that the poor man wouldn’t die for the longest time, suffering slowly. Some say this is the most gruesome video available online and anybody who dares to watch it, please respond with some feedback. Perhaps it was the raw realism of the footage, perhaps its because it occured in my own city, but I swear that I have never been more horrified in my life…

Memento, Noir and our fading sense of morality

As we have frequently pointed it out, “Memento” is a classical example of a movie inspired by film noir. I came across a great article written by a German professor, Dr. Robert Hurd, who does a great job identifying film noir, neo-noir and its presence in this particular film ( In the previous post, my classmate also presented us with some great examples of the correlation between the three, but instead of regurgitating what has already been said, I would like to focus on one specific characteristic of noir that is so evident in “Memento”. That feature is the theme of revenge.

Hurd explains that the film of revenge follows a structured pattern where the protagonist is somehow betrayed and having run out of other options, he puts seeking justice into his own hands. Noir and revenge films criticize society and particularly its system of justice which was unable to help the protagonist. The police have closed the case of Leonard Shelby’s wife’s murder without finding the criminals that took away his wife and his memory. Having witnessed the wrongdoing, the viewer oftentimes commiserates with the protagonist blurring his or her ability to sense what kind of justice is morally acceptable. Another characteristic of noir is voice-over narration. We hear the story from Lenny’s perspective, as opposed to an objective one. The argument that I am trying to make is that because of the aforementioned characteristics, revenge films such as “Memento” may alter or more specifically – diminish our ethical judgment. We become possessed by an “eye for an eye” mentality. When researching the film, I came across a review on, which offered a great quote that further explains my point. It stated, “Leonard Shelby is a moral monster – far more sinning that sinned against.” Having empathized with Shelby throughout the entire movie, and seeking truth for his wife’s murder along his side, only to find out at the very end that he has been deceiving himself this whole time, could not surpass the connection and the pity I had for the protagonist. Was I justifying actions I would otherwise never agree with? I am amazed at the sense of revenge and at times even cruelty that this genre was able to awaken in me.

Memento Cartoon