Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Fri, May 20 2005

Shopping Cart Cave Renderings

I'm feeling a bit tongue in cheek here, but the bottom line still applies.

Shopping carts have a tendency to be one of those things we love to hate. We use them all the time but we never seem to get control of them. We push them around, but they use wobbly wheels to remind us that we're never really in control of the beasts. They influence otherwise decent people to bash into displays and to rear-end shoppers in checkout lines. They sit in parking lots and seem to drift with the wind and find ways to travel on their own into parked cars. We see them sitting alone, abandoned on the side of a road or piled with a homeless person's belongings. They're in almost every parking lot in America that has a grocery store or big box store. Most of us now living can not remember a time without shopping carts.

Someone figured out how to take advantage of the more sinister side of these vehicles by using them in a sneaky art installation. The fact that no one even noticed them indicates that a lot of non-Creationist people may have come to think of shopping carts as part of some amoral evolution in human development, lumped right in there with fire and wooly-mammoth-killing spears. That sort of casual, calloused association is almost creepier than the shopping carts themselves.

posted at: 12:14 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Fake Gore Is The Least Of Our Worries

The CSI season finale aired last night, and I had to watch because Quentin Tarantino, who is apparently a huge fan of the show, got the job of directing the double-length episode. I was definitely pulled in by the drama, and I enjoyed all the little signature touches that Mr. Tarantino uses to accent his work. I never realized consciously (until last night) how much he loves human faces and their impact on camera. I noted a lot of things that made me smile, which might sound odd, considering the subject matter. His attention to offbeat detail only heightens the story and keeps the play of tension and irony going like a couple of proverbial hot potatoes in motion.

I'm aware that many people often avoid his work because of his seeming preoccupation with graphic gory scenes. I even hear some speak of his work as adolescent. But that underlying sense of graphic "ick" may also be the very thing that makes his work most useful. I'm the last one to enjoy splashy blood and guts on screen, even when I know the blood and guts are fake. But I also know that sanitzing violence can be a way of lying to people. Some writers and directors take a more sophisticated approach and only hint at the awful things that come from murder and torture. I confess that to be my preferred method because I have a very vivid imagination myself. It tends to fill in the blanks with plenty of detail. But I also know that violence is an ugly thing and that it makes people scream, bleed and suffer. There's actually something a little cold and creepy about a viewing public that quickly protests the showing of graphic results of true-life violence on the news. Violence in real life is shown with tastefully digitized sections of a frame and well-timed cutaways that spare us the spilling of blood and the writhing of someone in physical or emotional pain. Yet we fill our broadcast news with one horrible story after another: kidnappings, murders, wars, incest, rapes, stabbings and more. We don't balance the bad news with some good news, but we whitewash that steady flow of bad news until it becomes as much of a numbing drug as any other mind-altering substance. It's a lie. And we tell it to ourselves every day.

And the veiling of violent scenes in real life hasn't slowed down violent acts in our society. Maybe we should be glad that Quentin Tarantino makes us squirm in our seats at the sight of all that fake gore. At least we know he's not lying to us about what happens when hate and conflict become violent. If it hurts to watch then maybe we should think about that before we rush to hurt real people in the real world.

posted at: 10:17 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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