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Thread: "Artistic" value of obscenity in modern cinema? Oldies don't need any to be artistic

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    Default "Artistic" value of obscenity in modern cinema? Oldies don't need any to be artistic

    Speaking of the vulgarity in modern "art films" or "masterpieces", there are irredeemable ones, e.g., profanity every 10 seconds or so, such as the so-called masterpiece The Big Lebowski (1998); then there are redeemable ones, e.g., intimate explicit scenes are few and far between, and I've compared some longer versions with more such scenes and shorter versions with fewer such scenes, and the longer versions don't strike me as being more artistic than the shorter versions, such as Cinema Paradiso (1988).

    Speaking of Cinema Paradiso, there is a montage of deleted kisses from the oldies, which begs the question: since most classic oldies certainly don't need obscenity to be artistic, do they even need the kisses to be artistic (not the abrupt cut at the moment when one's lips touch another one's, but an artful omission of the act)? In other words, does the very act of kissing add any artistic value to the classics?

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    I guess there is a distinction between an art film and a film made for a more general audience. If it is necessary to propel the arc of the story, I'll put up with it.

    But personally, I don't see the value of gratuitous obscenity. It tells me that the filmmakers think that I'm so unintelligent/bored/apathetic that the only way to get my attention is for them to insert dirty/obscene things.

    Sure, an argument can be made for the necessity of vulgar language, like from the soldiers in Band of Brothers, or the use of nudity in Schindler's List, or violence, like in Saving Private Ryan. But when it's there just to get the rating up to R, it bothers me.

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    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manxfeeder View Post
    But personally, I don't see the value of gratuitous obscenity.

    it depends what is meant with gratuitous. A movie like Pink Flamingos for instance (and a lot of John Waters movies), which is on purpose a catalogue of obscenities and bad taste has to be seen in the context of a puritan, racist, homophobe America that had for decades the Hays code to regulate and censor what it was possible to see on a screen. In that case it was like a scream for freedom.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenestella View Post
    Speaking of the vulgarity in modern "art films" or "masterpieces", there are irredeemable ones, e.g., profanity every 10 seconds or so, such as the so-called masterpiece The Big Lebowski (1998); then there are redeemable ones, e.g., intimate explicit scenes are few and far between, and I've compared some longer versions with more such scenes and shorter versions with fewer such scenes, and the longer versions don't strike me as being more artistic than the shorter versions, such as Cinema Paradiso (1988).

    Speaking of Cinema Paradiso, there is a montage of deleted kisses from the oldies, which begs the question: since most classic oldies certainly don't need obscenity to be artistic, do they even need the kisses to be artistic (not the abrupt cut at the moment when one's lips touch another one's, but an artful omission of the act)? In other words, does the very act of kissing add any artistic value to the classics?
    Yeah, well, that's just your opinion, man.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    Yeah, well, that's just your opinion, man.
    You are entitled to your opinion.
    I'm not calling for censoring indecent scenes or banning obscene films. Your right to view, collect, and share them won't be infringed upon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fenestella View Post
    You are entitled to your opinion.
    I'm not calling for censoring indecent scenes or banning obscene films. Your right to view, collect, and share them won't be infringed upon.
    I think he was quoting the Dude here. I found it a funny film, but I only saw it recently and had too high an expectation. Generally I love the Coen brothers films

    In terms of explicit sex, violence, language etc, there's no need for them. We know what's happening, we don't need to see it, or hear it. Especially graphic violence. I've taken to steering clear of films or shows that include it. I like to sleep peacefully in my bed. I also wish filmmakers had the invention of old film makers, who could portray all these things more creatively. and with - I would say - more depth and effect.

    But I agree with what you say, I'm also not in favour of censorship, and many of my favourite films, confusingly enough, have contained violence and language - Goodfellas being an obvious example.
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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post

    In terms of explicit sex, violence, language etc, there's no need for them.
    There's no need for movies at all; I just don't see "need" as being significant here. I have to say that there's a puritanical streak to this thread.
    Last edited by Bulldog; Sep-25-2020 at 22:42.

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    Quote Originally Posted by norman bates View Post
    it depends what is meant with gratuitous. A movie like Pink Flamingos for instance (and a lot of John Waters movies), which is on purpose a catalogue of obscenities and bad taste has to be seen in the context of a puritan, racist, homophobe America that had for decades the Hays code to regulate and censor what it was possible to see on a screen. In that case it was like a scream for freedom.
    That's why I added "if it's necessary to propel the arc of the story."

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    It depends on if it is artistic or cheap and gratuitous. To me the Coen Bros and Lynch use these elements in artistic ways. Tarantino is an example of a director I find gratuitous and distasteful in his use of violence, I'm not a fan of his films. I also find the movie Fight Club disgusting in its use and glorification of violence.

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    Obscene language in itself doesn't really offend me, I didn't really even notice it much in Lebowski. Maybe it is because I grew up around people that talked somewhat like that in their normal day to day lives. For me it is more about the context and the intentions and message of the film. Idiocracy is filled with obscenities, and also with witty social satire, and in my view has a brilliant message. If one gets offended by the language and focuses on that one will miss out on all the subtleties and the point of the film.

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    I believe some people still have the mindset of the 60s generation; That we live in a post-war society with boundaries ripe for destruction. Unfortunately there are no boundaries left to push. We live in a time were almost anything will receive and ok from the censors.

    I am fine with vulgarity to a point as others have said. Obscenity for it’s own sake however has no merit and I feel it even puts the film outside the realm of an “art film” into a place closer to p*rnography than serious cinema. It is often the sign the director lacks maturity and or talent.
    Last edited by En Passant; Sep-26-2020 at 00:27.

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    Quote Originally Posted by En Passant View Post
    I believe some people still have the mindset of the 60s generation; That we live in a post-war society with boundaries ripe for destruction. Unfortunately there are no boundaries left to push. We live in a time were almost anything will receive and ok from the censors.

    I am fine with vulgarity to a point as others have said. Obscenity for it’s own sake however has no merit and I feel it even puts the film outside the realm of an “art film” into a place closer to p*rnography than serious cinema. It is often the sign the director lacks maturity and or talent.
    Very well said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldog View Post
    There's no need for movies at all; I just don't see "need" as being significant here. I have to say that there's a puritanical streak to this thread.
    One person's puritanical streak is another person's values being upheld.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christabel View Post
    One person's puritanical streak is another person's values being upheld.
    I agree with you concerning the real world. However, movies are fiction, and I gravitate toward them partially to escape reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieran View Post
    I think he was quoting the Dude here. I found it a funny film, but I only saw it recently and had too high an expectation. Generally I love the Coen brothers films

    In terms of explicit sex, violence, language etc, there's no need for them. We know what's happening, we don't need to see it, or hear it. Especially graphic violence. I've taken to steering clear of films or shows that include it. I like to sleep peacefully in my bed. I also wish filmmakers had the invention of old film makers, who could portray all these things more creatively. and with - I would say - more depth and effect.

    But I agree with what you say, I'm also not in favour of censorship, and many of my favourite films, confusingly enough, have contained violence and language - Goodfellas being an obvious example.
    "The Big Lebowski" is a favourite film. But I grew tired of the profanities, certainly. The humour was derived from the lack of self-awareness of a bunch of losers; the, er 'what have you's'!! The film is full of gags that are unusual for American cinema and John Goodman's performance as the troubled, hair-trigger Vietnam vet and his cliched articulations that "my buddies didn't die face down in the slime in 'Nam for this" are pure gold. The Coen Brothers lampoon the generation of down-and-out hippies, and that's gold enough for me!! Actually, the character of The Dude was a composite of a couple of people known to Joel and Ethan Coen.

    I despise the films like Goodfellas precisely because of the gratuitous violence and profanity; the unpleasant characters never garner my empathy so I never care what happens to them. There's a kind of pornographic quality to the profanity and violence of Scorsese's films which are enough to prevent my meaningful engagement. It's stylized and choreographed to the point of surrealism. Pass.

    As ever, for me it's the script, script, script, script......

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    James Cagney talked about street characters in his acceptance speech at the AFI award in his honour, here:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXxZCrM04uI

    Cagney was astute and intelligent enough to understand that the deep humour behind individuals who have tics and profanities is ripe for the picking. Humour is missing from Scorsese films.
    Last edited by Christabel; Sep-26-2020 at 01:17.

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