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Burnt Offerings

Burnt Toast#9, 1991

Only men who hate women could see any value in producing a movie which unforgettably shows women, skinned, face down, moth-chrysalis shoved deep in the throat.
Jocelynne A. Scutt
The Bulletin, 18/6/1990

When I first conceived this issue's Offering about 'the two most talked about works of art in Australia at the moment' (well, three or so month ago), I was going to defend Silence of the Lambs as being 'ideologically correct', and condemning Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho as being misogynistic garbage.

I'm not so sure any more.

I have read reasoned (and unreasoned) arguments on both sides of each case. I have read articles that say the condemnation of both seems to come from those who are only working on excerpts, not seeing the full intent. I have even read an argument that says Psycho is more worthy than Lambs, for while the latter exists for the roller-coaster ride, the former moves beyond it.

All I can say is that I've seen Lambs and, while I can't really say I enjoyed it in the normal sense, I did think it was a truly brilliant movie. I've also read about a thousand words of Psycho (yep, the rat scene) and was simply sickened by it. I have no intention of reading any more, and suggest to you likewise. That's not fair, you shouldn't judge a novel on a thousand words, but for me, that's the way it is.

Of course, it's all a question of degree. What other difference is there between the murders in the above two examples and, say, those of Laura Palmer and Maddy Ferguson in Twin Peaks? And I believe that Lambs is far less insulting towards women than something like, say, License to Drive, a movie where the girl is the 'prize', spending most of the time in an alcoholic stupor in a car boot.

I could argue this all day, but I'm not going to. In the end the majority of stories I write and read are going to be horrific because that is what interests me. That's where I see the truth to be.

The fact that we live in a society that allows me to read and write what I personally believe is sensible should be applauded, and protected. But our society is also extremely sexist, and that should be recognised and, if possible, acted upon.

Yet there's still one final dilemma. If I do feel sorry for the other half, doesn't that makes me a patronising bastard?

Ain't life fun?


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