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!

Why Believe in Paranormal Fraud?

I don’t know if you guys are aware of TED talks, but I am a huge fan. I find the website and the talks incredibly thought stimulating, like nothing else.

I recently watched this talk (posted above), by James Randi, a former stage magician and now a paranormal skeptic ( a cool career title, huh?). Since we just had a topic of supernatural activity in contemporary horror, I found it useful in relation to some of the movies we watched and topics we discussed. However, this is a little different, since Randi is not talking about a fiction world of the movies, he is talking about real facts and real people, who actually truly believe in supernatural forces and pay their very real money to come in contact with this make-believe world. And why are there so many people around the world convinced that this works? As Andy suggests, it’s because the paranormal activity is highly publicized to please sponsors.

If you think about it, there is sense in it. We watched all these movies like The Blair Witch, Paranormal Activity and the Sixth Sense. Well, just tell me you are not a least a little nervous to go get some water in your house at night in the dark now? Ok maybe you are not like me, maybe you are more sane. But really, would you travel to the woods at night after watching Blair Witch?? And now imagine that the next day after watching this movie you see a talk show, a documentary and read a magazine article about similar supernatural occurrences.In such a case, it’s all around, from different sources, must be somewhat more credible.

This is how psychics work, psychics just like legendary Sylvia Browne. They are publicized all over the place, they are talked about, and most importantly they play on people’s feelings. Just like Randi says, they take advantage of “innocent, naive and grieving” . Unlike movies made for entertainment, these frauds are not fun, he is right. They not only convince vulnerable people that what psychics are doing is true, but they also take fairly earned money for it, for fiction. So where is the line between fiction and reality? Why is it that people are having such a hard time distinguishing this line? Can it be that such movies as Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity work not only to entertain and scare people, but also to deceive and create more room for the multi million-dollar psychic industry?

Whether you believe in supernatural or not, watch the clip, you would not regret it. (James Randi also talks about homeopathy.)

SAW fans say the Doctor lives, and he does

Doctor Gordon is Alive

When I watched Saw when it came out, and again when I watched it for class, I was annoyed at the (dismal) ambiguous ending that makes us wonder, is Dr. Lawrence Gordon dead? We all know he cut off his foot, which would mean massive bleeding and makes it impossible for him to escape. Even if he didn’t die from his self-inflicted injury, Jigsaw would have been on his tail right after locking Adam in the bathroom.

After doing searches along the lines of “saw movie discussion” and “is dr. gordon alive” it was evident that there is definitely a significant amount of people wondering the same. I found several sites, from an unserious and meandering thread on Fearscene (Saw discussion; is Dr. Gordon dead?) to a concise and straighforward answer list on WikiAnswers (WikiAnswers – Is dr gordon from the saw series still alive).

However, thinking outside the box, what really makes this topic legit? Of course, a Facebook group would be necessary. I stumbled upon this amazing group, DOCTOR LAWRENCE GORDON IS ALIVE | Facebook

The group has 183 members and is very active. The latest post happened yesterday night and the earliest post was in July 2009. I haven’t watched any SAW movie after the first one so I was really intrigued by all the fan theories and discussions on this topic. On the Wall tab, one member was antagonized by the movie spoilers on this topic while another writes “I enjoy this group very much (:
I’m going to watch all the Saw movies again soon.” Many posts point out more Dr. Gordon trivia and the discussion is very focused on the film instead of meandering to other topics. The group also brings resolution to the whole debate. Under the News tab, there is a list called “The Proof.” Every instance that Dr. Gordon is mentioned in a SAW film is meticulously labeled. The most recent update states that SAW VII shows that Gordo is alive. In the group’s breaking new, they link an article where a SAW screenwriters says that the Gordon story will be explained in it’s entirety. So, mystery is solved, we’ll finally see what happened to the Doctor.

What the new SAW has in store

We mentioned in class that SAW was planned to be a franchise from the very start. What will keep people coming back to watch each one one that comes out? The latest movie SAW VI grossed $62.09 million worldwide, which is amazing considering their $11m budget, but it’s a far cry from the $164.78m of SAW III. It was smart of the producers and writers to retain viewers by playing off of expectations, even if they didn’t plan to make Dr. Gordon an essential character past the first film. This doctor mystery, along with the thrill of seeing blood and gore, kept people coming back to theaters which no doubt keeps this franchise so popular.

Overall, all these discussions are exciting due to the sheer fact that that so many people care. We know when we watch horror films, there’s a slim chance that anyone survives at the end. The viewers are detached from the characters because we have no hope in their survival. Yet this is a rare instance where people have been attached to the same character’s survival for 6 years, which is a long time to obsess over. For me, Dr. Gordon’s survival is a fleeting thought that I might remark on if I ever talked about SAW with a friend. However, to write on threads/discussions shows that people are truly engaged in the idea (or, they have a lot of time on their hands).

Supposedly SAW VII will be the last film, but with horror movies, we never really know when the franchise will end, or whether there will be spinoffs/remakes. Still, fans want their films done right, and the studio gives them what they want.

A Dash of Elements Incorporated in Contemporary Horror

Before I delve into my Internet material I just wanted to share a quote about Gotham City from the ‘Batman’ comic-series. After looking over the ‘Urban-Decay’ topic, Gotham could be scene as the epitome of cultural decay; dark, full-of criminals & chaos and the evil twin of the glorified fictional city of Metropolis, home to American-hero Superman. In regards to Gotham City here is this beautiful quote:
“Batman’s Gotham City is Manhattan below Fourteenth Street at eleven minutes past midnight on the coldest night in November.” –‘Batman’ writer and editor, Dennis O’Neil

For my Internet material I would like to discuss the official ‘Blair Witch Project’ site. This viral site furthers the anxiety of the film because it presents actual biographies of the filmmakers, timeline of events and a presents a mythological description of the fabled ‘Blair Witch’ all giving the image that this event could have actually happened. Chuck Tryon in ‘Video from the Void: Video Spectatorship, Domestic Film Cultures, and Contemporary Horror’ talks about how contemporary films such as the aforementioned ‘Blair Witch Project’ have a distinct characteristic that ‘blurs the boundaries between documentary and fiction.’ Through this viral marketing campaign that portrays the film as actual found footage the knowledge and information that is given to the audience is definitely distorted. When this film first came out in 1999 I wasn’t even ten years old and conveniently just started camping with the Boy Scouts. So with a film about a murderous witch that haunts the forests and hunts those who enter the woods, being heavily involved in an organization that was based around camping in the woods presented a grand set of circumstances for me. There were countless moments at night when I was playing manhunt in the woods and my friends and I imagined what would happen if the actual Blair Witch was in the woods that we were. This film with its vague commercials that left so much up left to the imagination to twist around I believe is one horror film that could define our generation. It can be seen as the first initial segue from the more traditional planned horror films to the a new set of immersive films that focuses on 1st person camera angles, extreme close-up & camera shifts along with a disturbing sense of realism set in a pseudo-documentary setting that states that the film that is being presented is actual found-footage from three doomed students. This could further be connect to the idea of ‘trans-media storytelling’, a technique where there is intentionally little explanation as to what is going on in an effort to increase the level of interest.

Official ‘Blair Witch Project’ site:

And also: Just throwing this idea out there. I also think that after focusing on the contemporary horror film genre for my presentation I also think that there is a reflection of current day society’s interest in investigation and criminal shows & films. In the ‘Saw’ series there is an ever-constant hunt through a detective unit to end Jigsaw’s games, in ‘The Sixth Sense’ Dr. Malcolm Crowe is a psychologist who is trying to help Cole and in ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and ‘Paranormal Activity’ there are people either investigating for a supposedly mythical entity or searching for spirits that are in their house.