mardi, janvier 12, 2010

Violence in Art

This is a subject I wanted to blog since a pretty long time. But I somehow never found the right words and am not sure if I will yet. Geiers latest Post inspired me to at least try it.

The question on depiction of violence was raised to me very early, when I started to do War-Comics. I hesitated in the Beginning but quickly became very graphic and did some truly bloody stuff. Beheading at close-up, bodies halved by explosives, and so on. I didn't really like it. There was kind of a thrill of course, in seeing how far I can go and what is graphically possible. I was sick of the typical attitude by the ever so typical (male) comic-reader, who thinks that Comics by women are mostly sweetish and nice, if not to say kitsch.  For some time, I therefore tried to be even more aggressive than male colleagues.
This form of "arms race" within the artists community on who shows the most shocking violence and the most obvious Sex-Scenes, was launched somewhere in the middle of the eighties and has, to my feelings, now reached an extend where its all not shocking or new anymore, but just boring.  The Phenomenon isn't just in Comics. Movies and TV Series have a quicker cut, more action and more bare skin than ever.
People get over saturated and blunted by the mass. Its like for those who can't eat dishes that are not sharply spiced, unable to recognize the subtle tastes of the original food with less or no spice.

With the years I got tired of that arm race. I just want to leave it. I am pretty convinced that the perpetual overdose of sick and violent scenery does no good. I don't think that violent games and films will make School-shooters, even tough School Shooters certainly do consume violent games and films. The general blunting is the much bigger threat.
An argument that always convinced me was that the depiction of violence in war comics/movies will prevent the work from playing down the awe of war. In old movies and Books, Soldiers always get down in a clean and unbloody way, making war looking almost romantic.
I don't agree to this logic anymore. People who romanticized war based on that will also do so when seeing bloody butchering. Violence has its own fascination and will probably not turn away one single person who thinks that war is cool.
What actually can work, is an intelligent play with emotion. I remember Disneys film version of Bambi. When Bambis mother was shot by hunters, you just heard the shot, and did not see anything else but the lost fawn, calling for his mother. No graphical violence was shown, but the emotional impact was so utterly deep that it made the children  cry out loudly and forced parents to take them out of the theater. Heck, even the adults cried. This effect couldn't have been produced with a herd of bloody dead deer.
Okay, Bambi is a Children Movie. But I am more and more convinced that, also for an adult audience,  a strong emotional storytelling is far more effective than tacky violence labelled as "shows the truth".

This is why I re-work some parts of the latest JFK Books, taking out some of the too graphic drawings, replacing them by more decent ones.  I am also pretty proud and happy that the Film Bête des Vosges will be entirely GP rated and can be enjoyed by young and old alike.
I know that because of this, more people than before will see my work as "effeminate" or "too gentle", but I am ready to face that. I've outgrown the stage where I felt the urge to prove that I can be as hard-boiled as men. I would like to find the way back to my real nature. It will probably never be "typical" Womans Work, for I am too much into adventure and the drawing of males, but it will be gentle and decent, with Humor and Emotion instead of showy violence.

6 commentaires:

caroona a dit…

Hi there, this was a very interesting post. I very much agree with you on the blunting effect. With the amok running students I think they are emotionally damaged anyway and the fact they like violent movies or games is just a symptom. Other people might watch the same movies and play the same games without ever going berserk.

What I also find really fascinating is that when we met on the net you sometimes used the nick “Axtmörderin” and I remember glorious days of rampaging through message boards and flattening all the stupid people we thought deserved flattening. So the axe thing is kind of what I associate with you, even though I know that you can be gentle and peaceful too. I can understand how you spent enough time competing with others who could draw the most graphic and violent pictures and now are just fed up with it.

Another thing: I have never in my life watched Bambi and I know that I am in the minority there. Of course I know that Bambi’s mother is shot by hunters and that the scene is supposed to make everyone cry, but I have honestly never seen it myself. Very odd. Read about the movie in a totally different context today (don’t ask, quite embarrassing) and this is just another one of those instances of synchronicity.

After all this babbling let me just say thank you for this thought-inducing post. It is always very interesting to hear from artist about how they feel about their work and how sometimes their attitudes change and how this is reflected in more recent pictures. Guess now I have to read what Geier said to make you write this :o)

Geier a dit…

Danke, aber das war eigentlich nur ein Nebensatz von mir. Tatsächlich könnte man ein ganzes Buch über dieses Thema schreiben.
Da werde ich wohl mal ausführlicher drüber schreiben.
Es ist trotzdem so, daß bei Männern die Bereitschaft Gewalttätigkeiten exzessiv darzustellen ausgeprägter ist, Frauen machen das meist wesentlich subtiler und ist selten Mittel zum Zweck. Beim Konsum gibt es dagegen kaum einen Unterschied. ZB werden Horrorfilme von beiden fast gleich viel gesehen, dito Videospiele. Nur Kriegsfilme sind ne Männerdomäne - aber da tauchen Frauen auch nur am Rande auf.

Diana Kennedy a dit…

@Caroona: Oh, I remember very well our rampaging days with me as Axtmörderin ;-)
The axe IS a part of me and will ever be, as I said. Its just time for me to explore my more gentle side as well.

Funny, that you read about Bambi on an other occasion th same day.
Thank you for your intense feedback!

@Geier: Selbstredend ist das so, mit den männlichen Zeichnern und den Gewaltdarstellungen. Ich wollte eine Zeit lang den Männern diesbezüglich wie gesagt, einfach mal Konkurrenz machen. Aber mittlerweile ödet mich das eigentlich nur nch an. Von kleinen Ausnahmen abgesehen, wenn ich mal Dampf ablassen muss.
Auf eingehendere Gedanken von Dir bei Dir zum Thema würde ich mich freuen.

Sefarina a dit…

So, jetzt bin ich lang genug um das Thema rumgeschlichen und weiß doch immer noch nicht wirklich, was ich dazu sagen soll. Das Thema ist wohl etwas zu groß für mich...

Gewalt ist ein Teil unserer Geschichte und Menschlichkeit, das kann man wohl nicht verleugnen. Wie man damit umgeht wird an den Tatsachen selbst wenig ändern, aber es trägt natürlich massiv zur Gesamtstimmung bei, die man bei der Erzählung erschafft.

Ich habe immer das Gefühl, dass exzessive, seitenlange Bluträusche die Geschichte unnötig banalisieren, wie ein übertriebener Horrorfilm. Blut ist nicht glorreich oder schrecklich, sondern metallisch schmeckende, warme, klebrige Realität - das was austritt, wenn man einen lebenden Körper beschädigt.
Es ist natürlich und unvermeidlich, und genau so betrachte ich es auch.

Die Welt ist manchmal ein grausamer Ort, und diese Tatsache möchte ich aus meinen Geschichten nicht verbannen. Jedes Bild und jeder Satz hat einen Zweck, erzeugt einen Geschmack, der auf der Zunge bleibt, ein Summen im Kopf, und um die richtige Stimmung zu treffen nehme ich keine Rücksicht auf zart besaitete Gemüter.

Man kann eine Geschichte auf verschiedene Weise erzählen, doch man kann nie dieselbe Atmosphäre aufbauen.

Wie viel Gewalt man aber wie einbindet ist absolute Geschmackssache und abhängig davon, wieviel es überhaupt "braucht".
Die meisten Frauen haben einfach eine andere Erzählweise, vielleicht auch durch einen anderen Blick auf das Leben, eine andere Art von Problemen und der Art sie zu lösen.

Irgendwie sind meine Gedanken dazu noch recht unsortiert, glaube ich...

Diana Kennedy a dit…

@Sefarina: danke für Deinen Beitrag. Vielleicht sollte ich dazu anmerken, dass ich keineswegs für irgendeine Zensur oder so eintrete. Dass ich Gewaltdarstellungen kritischer sehe als früher bezieht sich in erster Linie mal auf meine Arbeitsweise.

Gina a dit…

Very interesting post, Diana. When I was working on my historical science-fiction novel, I wrote in some bombings (unlike personal violence of assassinations) but it made me uneasy. Since I don’t like gory, violent, or excessive battle scenes (even close my eyes until it passes) in books or movies, it is ironic I thought it was necessary for my novel plot. But in my art since then, I don’t like looking at it or reflecting it. Seems there is more than enough in the real world.

Yesterday, through your link to Geier, I finally saw some of your Antique White House and looked at the episode “Empire of Darkness.” I enjoyed it very much and thought what a great job you did creating this alternate universe for President/King Kennedy and his family! Must have been a lot of work to create all the panels and scenes. Congratulations on being such a successful comic artist!