Film violence not funny


Film violence not funny


By: Doug Gill
Posted: 5/7/07

I love British comedies. So I just had to see "Hot Fuzz" a couple weeks ago.

It's the latest action-comedy-murder-mystery-thriller from the makers of "Shaun of the Dead," directed by Edgar Wright and starring Nick Frost and Simon Pegg.

Expecting both a good time and a hearty laugh, I suddenly found myself feeling alone in a crowded theater and very uneasy. Why?

In the movie, Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is a hot-shot London police officer whose arrest record makes his co-workers look bad. So they transfer him to an idyllic English village where there hasn't been a crime in more than 20 years.

Yet Angel suspects that the week's five gruesome deaths were really murders. After all, people don't just accidentally blow themselves up, loose their heads or stab themselves in the throat with hedge clippers, do they? Maybe in the big city of London they do, but certainly not in Sandford, the community that cares.

I soon found myself feeling very unsettled.

What triggered my unease was a scene that generated the most laughter from the audience, a homage to the American western. Angel rides into town on a white horse sort of like Clint Eastwood. Loaded down with guns and ammunition, he surprises the murderous villagers who thought they'd killed Angel the night before. They open fire on him in a very explosive and gory scene.

Yet everyone in the audience, including myself, guffawed and cheered approvingly as our avenging Angel took out the NWA one-by-one: the friendly couple who run the pub, the kindly village priest and the grinning grocer played by former James Bond actor Timothy Dalton. A woman two rows in front of me leaped from her seat. "All right!" she shouted. Turning to her neighbor, she quipped, "Serves 'em right!" A bunch of guys behind me began really whooping it up. I could hardly hear the gunfire over them.

Yes, all of us were really getting into it. And who wouldn't have? The bad guys were getting their comeuppance for being so wicked.

Still, I found myself sitting alone in the dark, feeling troubled.

Then a still, quiet voice said, "A gunman has killed 33 people this week at Virginia Tech. Why are we laughing?"

Back in the theater, I could no longer see the humor in bullets ripping through the air and tearing into people's shoulders or legs. Instead, I could only see the victims of last week's shootings along with their grieving family members and friends. Squirming in my seat, I hoped that none of them were watching this movie. I didn't want them to see people being shot at - even if they were the bad guys. Feeling queasy, I certainly didn't want them to hear our cheers and laughter as blood splattered across the screen and bodies fell to the ground.

Granted, "Hot Fuzz" is just a movie. Our hero only wounded the villains so they couldn't shoot back. Heck, his name was Angel for heaven's sake. Nonetheless, in the wake of that week's tragedy, I felt as though I had disrespected the dead and, in some albeit small way, also contributed to a collective insensitivity toward violence in American culture today.

And this is a disturbing feeling - a very disturbing feeling indeed.


Original Source:<a href=>The Lantern - May 7, 2007</a>


Doug Gill


The Lantern




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Doug Gill, “Film violence not funny,” The April 16 Archive, accessed May 27, 2024,