Torture porn is a write-off

I DON'T get it myself, but apparently Rose McGowan has featured in lists of the “world's sexiest women” as voted for by readers of Maxim, FHM and Stuff magazines.

I DON'T get it myself, but apparently Rose McGowan has featured in lists of the “world's sexiest women” as voted for by readers of Maxim, FHM and Stuff magazines.

That sort of appeal is presumably why film directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez cast her in their double-bill Grindhouse.

McGowan, best known as witch Paige Matthews in TV series Charmed and as shock-rocker Marilyn Manson's ex, has straightforward views on modern horror movies.

She told Rolling Stone: “All they do now is think about ways to torture women, primarily. I don't really get that. What is this, a manual for young, budding serial killers?”


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It seems a fair point. So what exactly did McGowan think she was doing in Grindhouse?

In Rodriguez's film she plays a go-go dancer who has her leg ripped off by zombies. Then she's threatened with rape at gunpoint. She ends up slaying a company of demented military officials with a gun and grenade-launcher that has been attached to her as a false leg.

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In Tarantino's portion of the entertainment (showing at Cannes this week as a separate movie) she is gruesomely killed by an insane stunt-driver who deliberately crashes his car into hers. This being Tarantino, the emphasis is on the gruesome. McGowan is not the only victim, with severed limbs and bloodied faces galore.

I wonder how McGowan feels about it now, after a real crash in which her face was cut by her own glasses.

UK release of Grindhouse was dropped after the film flopped in the States, though the two parts may appear separately in the autumn.

That US failure does not mean, though, that American audiences are sick of sick movies.

They flocked to the obscene Hostel, and will probably turn out in droves for Hostel II.

When I wrote recently about the foulness of movies such as Hostel and Saw, I was taken to task by reader Gian Luigi di Franco of Crowfield. Owning up to enjoying such films, he was annoyed by my calling them “torture porn”.

He said they were “a good watch” and insisted no link was made in them between the violence and sex.

Now, firstly, my objection to pornography has nothing really to do with sex.

Looking at beautiful people is a harmless enjoyment, a human pleasure with a tradition probably as old as humanity. Pornography becomes offensive, and dangerous, when it treats women as objects for men to have power over.

It's the wielding of power for its own sake that's at issue.

And that is exactly what is pornographic about films that glory in torture. Whether women or men are the victims.

But the term “torture porn” is not my invention. And it is, of course, mostly attractive young women whose humiliation, pain and dismemberment we are invited to watch. And enjoy.

The sexual connection is make horribly explicit in scenes of real or threatened rape and mutilation.

It's blatant in the way the camera caresses actresses such as McGowan and Elisha Cuthbert, “star” of the most controversial movie poster of recent times.

But don't take it from me. This is what Eli Roth, director of Hostel, has to say: “Any time people see women in a horror film, they say, 'Oh, these girls are just pieces of meat.' And, literally, in Hostel II, that's exactly what they are. They are the bait, they are the meat.”

How much more de-humanising can a movie get? And just how far can the inflation of gratuitous violence go?

If, like Gian Luigi, you enjoy these movies, I would ask you - as I asked him - to ask yourself: Why? What is it draws you to them? And how does watching them make you feel?

Only honest answers, please. And maybe you'd better keep them to yourself.

The sting in the tale of Jose Mourinho's caution after refusing to let police take away his dog, surely lies in his choice of pet.

A Yorkshire terrier? For the ultra-suave special one?

Whatever does that say about Jose's self-image? It certainly doesn't seem to fit the standard of pets resembling their owners.

For elegant dishevelment, a slightly dated stylishness and above all a well-developed sense of his own superiority, the correct dog for Mourinho should surely have been an Afghan hound.

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