Well well well. What have we here?
It seems that Texas Chainsaw 3D dominated the box office this past weekend, raking in $23 million in its opening run. Terrific, yes?
Assuming I can still count correctly, this is the sixth installment of the TCM franchise. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of innovation this time around – people don’t watch slasher movies for that sort of thing – but you do get to view it in glorious, eye-popping 3D.
Because watching someone get dismembered with a power tool just isn’t the same without those glasses.
Commenting on the film’s robust earnings, my good friend Matt wryly observed, “Clearly, tougher gun laws are the solution to our culture’s problem with violence.” Clearly.
Of course, laying all the blame on the entertainment industry wouldn’t be fair. We are a fallen race, wretched and depraved, and our fascination with and perpetration of violence stems directly from our own sinfulness. Cain murdered Able, and I’m pretty sure that was way before Hollywood. To denounce films like Texas Chainsaw as if they are the root of the problem is naive and extreme. But it’s also naive and extreme to think that films like Texas Chainsaw aren’t part of the problem.
Carl Trueman writes that “as the goldfish swimming in the bowl is unaware of the temperature and taste of the water in which he swims, so often the most powerfully formative forces of our societies and cultures are those with which we are so familiar as to be fundamentally unaware of how they shape our thinking.”
Our entertainment is no exception. And those who dine upon blood, gristle, and sadism will not go unaffected by it. They will vomit it up. Their thinking will be shaped by it.
You have to wonder about a culture that recoils in horror at the latest school massacre, and then proceeds to revel in the “chainsaw massacre” at their local cineplex. I realize, of course, that there’s a difference between the two. But can anyone else smell the pungent odor of hypocrisy? Anyone?
Adam R. Holz (a reviewer for Plugged In) says it well:
As long as low-budget grotesqueries like [Texas Chainsaw] continue to rake in many times what they cost to make, we can be sure that in 40 more years caricatured monstrosities like Jed Sawyer, aka Leatherface, will still be dispensing their bloody “lessons” via the business end of a meat hook or chain saw. Maybe even in 4-D or 5-D by then.
We call that a vicious cycle.