i am carrying a bag of groceries along Danforth Avenue on a Saturday afternoon. Some angry-looking, underemployed, decidedly non-entrepreneurial youths spill out of a pool-hall cafe and eye me with contempt.With a sneer, one spits on the sidewalk at a midpoint between me and him. Do I perceive the gesture as an act of personal hygiene or a provocation?
This poor guy has no idea who I am. I've instigated violent acts that would make these shaveheads inhale their nose-rings, terrorized families with guns and bombs, blown heads off, demanded the injection of lethal doses, thrown men through brick walls, beat them with iron bars, engineered a bloody shark attack on a young girl, and, after causing a man to be hit by a speeding car, told my driver to back over the victim's body.
Don't believe me? I have videotapes to prove it. Full colour. Lots of gory detail. But I'm not a gangster or a mercenary. I am a television drama director.
In film school, I wore silver shades and black leather. My Revelation was the Zapruder footage. My first directing job was on a spy drama. My subversive ambition was to make every action sequence as brutal as possible.
Naturally, in my private life, as befits a sensitive quasi-intellectual, I continued to espouse pacifism. I read media experts who said that no matter how repellently realistic the bloodshed, something in its depiction always whispered a seductive "yes.'
I would add that the issue isn't whether violent films actually make a few morons violent -- it's whether violent films help convince the rest of the audience that the public really is a hopeless jungle, an arena where civility and ethics have no contemporary role.
I'm comfortable now with the fact that I've spent my directing career dancing cynically along the continuum that stretches between treacly liberal sentiment and ultra-violence.
My current boss, in response to questions about the abysmal quality of his shows and the social effects of the kind of programming he produces, replies, with a conspiratorial wink, "I don't smell 'em -- I just sell 'em!"
Thus, I don't confront the Danforth lout. Clutching my groceries, I deftly circumvent the spittle. My boss and I had this guy beat before he crawled out of his mother. The carnage will continue on screens big and small. We supply the bad news, and commercials tell you how good it could be. That's Entertainment