Death: XXX

by thethreepennyguignol

I’ve expressed countless times, both on this blog and in endless pub arguments, that violence in entertainment is not just justifiable but traditional; for years, we’ve been entertained by every genre of generalized human suffering. Something I don’t think I’ve expressed as fully is my aversion to sexualised violence. I’m not sure why, but the addition of a sexual element to torture or murder or what have you makes me a little…uncomfortable. It could be my horribly old-fashioned view of sex as being best when shared with someone you love and care about, and when you start adding in, I don’t know, a naked woman frolicking in the blood of a beautiful, scythed young nymphet (yes, I fucking hate Hostel), it gets a bit rough. Nothing against the BDSM community, mind- Safe, Sane and Consensual is the general rule there. Three words, ironically that do not apply to 1000 Ways To Die.

1000 ways to die is your usual dumping ground for terrible actors, spurious experts and boundless “true stories”. Basically, it features dramatized versions of various horrible and unlikely ways people have met their maker. It’s hilarious viewing for the first episode or two-a sort of less-funny, poorly animated version of The Darwin Awards, accompanied by a hi-larious voice over which would be infinitely if it were just me with a swanny whistle and a whoopee cushion. By episode three, you’re feeling a bit grubby. By episode six or so, you’re weeping in a corner in a mixture of fear, disgust and heartbreaking self-loathing. I counted up, and, of the thirty-seven episodes of the first three seasons, there are forty-one stories involving sex in some way or another. And this isn’t all jolly larks, like a woman masturbating with a carrot (HAS SHE NOT HEARD OF YEAST INFECTIONS?!) and sending a deadly air bubble to her heart. This is someone mistaking a grizzly bear for a member of a furry group and having his intestines torn out. This is someone trying to seduce a builder and being bisected by a buzz saw. This is someone choking to death on a ball gag after his dominatrix mistakes his protests at his hitherto-unknown deadly latex allergy for moans of pleasure. This is Death: XXX.

And this is all rated TV-14. Right, I’m not getting into the ratings debate (again) but seems to me like this is cheating a little bit. Just because the show doesn’t people getting their guts ripped out or their genitals electrocuted or a frankly questionable amount of stuff to do with violent death and farts doesn’t mean it doesn’t put that idea in someone’s head. Now, I was a particularly neurotic and easily frightened child (I used to get terrified by the descriptions of CSI in the Radio Times), but even by age fourteen I don’t think putting the concept of pretty intense BDSM death or violent brain hemorrhage in MY violent brain hemorrhage would have been something I could cope with. Something like Saw incorporates hideous death into a story (or at least a semblance of one), but this show simply presents money shot after money shot as entertainment with no sense of moral or character or depth. It’s exhaustingly pointless-less compassion fatigue than sheer acceptance of your own limits as a human. Why is this harmless entertainment? Why is this acceptable because of a slightly sarcastic voiceover? If I make pithy comments over House of 1000 Corpses will it be required viewing in primary schools? Why isn’t anyone making me dinner? Where’s my wine? What was I… oh, forget it. I’ll keep fighting the good fight.

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