Originally Posted by Timothy Ramzyk
To my knowledge there has never been conclusive findings that cinematic depravity creates real-life depravity where none was previously likely to exist.
Indeed, there hasn't. How they'd even try to prove such a thing I'd love to see: show a thousand babies horror movies every single day until the age of 25, and then see how many of them snap and stab their psychologist with a ball point pen? The way people talk about this stuff and the advent of so-called mainstream "torture porn", you'd think that one in four people would be mass murderers by now. Hey, that'd solve the energy crisis and overpopulation issue in no time, wouldn't it? And just think of the job openings! Goodbye failing economy...
Violence existed long
before films and video games gave simulated torture to the masses. Heck, it existed from the very start of recorded history! The fact that society can now shift the blame from the accused - a living, breathing, thinking, feeling human being who made the choice to impose harm on another - to an electronic bogeyman kind of saddens me.
Salo isn't bad, exactly. It's certainly polished, it's smarter than it should be, and it's less graphic than its infamy would suggest. The issues I have with the film aren't the graphic nudity or the explicit violence, more the thematic structure that tries to convince us that fascism is wrong because it puts absolute power in the hands of people who may then freely abuse it. It's an admirable statement, and using the work of de Sade as a starting point was a nice touch, since he himself was obsessed with the concept of people only behaving because they felt they had to. Unfortunately the film doesn't present fascists exerting their political power, it just puts sadistic libertines in fascists uniforms and begs us to make the connection ourselves. I just don't buy it.
I'm disappointed that more critics haven't picked this angle apart, but I guess something distracts them from thinking about the film's message... what ever could that be, I wonder?
For the record: One of the greatest exploitation films of the last 40 years was the one about Christ made by a certain Australian actor who the world once knew as Max. Yet because that's a Hollywood film with better production values and wasn't recorded in a modern language, that
one's essential viewing. Meanwhile Pasolini's own film about Jesus, the one about his life, his views, his unpolished and realist historical legacy - not just his physical destruction - will probably only ever be seen by film buffs looking it over as a historical artifact. Just something to mull over while others continue to write off Salo as a work of sick child porn.
(I'm done. Promise.)