Psycho You, Psycho Me

18Dec09

I recall reading that Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960 was the first time audiences saw a toilet flush, though the film is obviously better known for its then-shocking shower scene, and the violent death of a character played by a star (and halfway through the film, making it even more jarring for audiences).  David Thomson examines Psycho, the films it pioneered in terms of increasing levels of violence, and subtle, ongoing changes to how jaded we are in The Moment of Psycho, covered recently by the New York Times. The line I find find most interesting and perhaps a trifle startling is “in terms of the cruelties we no longer notice, we are another species.”

I’m not trying to suggest I believe in censorship, or that entertainment can stamp out empathy, but it’s disturbing to think that the ongoing need to turn up the volume (figuratively speaking) in the entertainment industry has changed us. In the nineties, I published a zine with some friends, and included a few film reviews by my mother. Her comments on Pulp Fiction were, I recall, fairly baffled: “What really stunned me were the reviews. Bruce Kirkland of the Sun and Rob Salem of the Star both thought this movie was funny!  Blood and guts plastered everywhere inside a white car is funny. Well, judge for yourself. I sure feel all alone on this one.”

An extremely clever trailer with Hitchcock walking around the set (but rarely finishing anything he starts to talk about) can be found here.

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