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'The Green Inferno' and why we need films that disturb us

As a fan of director/writer (and occasional actor) Eli Roth, I was excited to hear that his latest film, The Green Inferno, is finally being released in September after being completed in 2013; the status of the film has been in limbo since then. To no one’s surprise, the film’s controversy has followed it since it was first announced.

As seen in the trailer, a group of young white people are captured by an Amazonian tribe that tortures and (presumably) cannibalizes them. The tribe is shown as “savages” who have odd piercings and body paint, and are vicious and violent. It looks disturbing and intense—and I can’t wait to see it. (The film is also a clear homage to the also controversial 1980 horror film Cannibal Holocaust.)

Eli Roth is no stranger to criticism. His films Hostel (2005) and Hostel Part 2 (2007) are the genesis of the genre of “torture porn,” a term that I personally can’t stand. His films, and others like them, are not going to appeal to everyone. In the same vein, I can refer to the Expendables films as “explosion porn,” but that is because I don’t really care for mindless action films, although many enjoy them. Thoughtful critics should evaluate films within their own genre, and base their opinions on what the filmmaker is trying to accomplish. In other words, you wouldn’t send an opera critic to review a tennis match.

Film is an art form that forces us to make a connection to the story and the characters, to think about what we, as individuals, would do in the situations presented to us. Films are a chance for us to experience the full range of human emotion and states of being, without having to actually be in the situation. All of you who cried in the first 10 minutes of Up were not crying because you actually thought your own spouse was dying; you knew you were watching a fictional story, but putting yourself into it brought the tears. Just as I want to experience sadness, happiness, and delight when watching a film, I want to feel a whole new range of emotions that make up the human experience, including fear, dread, stress, and more. Obviously, I want to feel these in a state that is not a real threat for my life.

Horror films, and especially Eli Roth’s films, show us just how malicious, deranged, and dehumanizing others can become—a harsh reality of the human condition. The Hostel films aren’t just torture porn; they pose a significant “what if?” What if, in fact, there was an underground club that specialized in letting the rich pay for the opportunity to torture another human? The scariest thing is that, as a thought experience, it could happen. Same for The Green Inferno: What if you had the best intentions of helping people unlike you, but they turned out to be evil? I don’t want to experience anything like this firsthand, but I do want to experience it through film, in a controlled thought experiment.

Ironically, at the same time that many are calling for a boycott of the film because of its portrayal as native people as savages, Eli Roth has explained the film as a statement against so-called social justice warriors who are all talk and no action:

I want to make a story about kids who don’t really know what they’re getting into. They get in way over their heads, and it actually works. And then the irony is, on their way home, their plane crashes, and the very people they saved think that they’re invaders, and just dart them and eat them. And make them the food supply of the village.

Roth is not stating his opinion on how indigenous tribes act, but rather putting forth the the horrifying idea of “what if this were the case?”

I do understand the criticism surrounding this movie; I do understand that media depictions are larger than the sum of their parts, and that the public in general often can’t differentiate the nuances between commentary on a stereotype and just perpetuating the stereotype. Endless thinkpieces about Amy Schumer’s comedy have already explored the meanings of “offensive” art and being politically correct; this conversation clearly extends far beyond comedy.

I’m not trying to convince you that you must watch The Green Inferno, or any other horror films and that you find offensive. However, I do think it is important that they exist for others to watch. Again, art is made for people to feel a full spectrum of the human experience. The movies that terrify and disturb can give viewers a perspective on their own lives and situations. I want people to have the opportunity for that—and for us to not just dismiss those films because of the amount of gore, violence, and potentially offensive content.

Just as many of us need Up, many of us need The Green Inferno.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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