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If you want to make contact about any Non-fiction or Poetry item, you can contact me direct on peter at peterjukes dot com.Otherwise, when it comes to anything concerning Film, TV, stage or radio drama, the best first point of call is probably my UK agent.Howard Gooding at Judy Daish Associates (how
In light of the recently announced public inquiry into the murder of Daniel Morgan, I've copied below the MS portion of the chapter from my book The Fall of the House of Murdoch to aid the resource page set up by Jack of Kent. It could be a useful summation of events up to July 2012.
The Murder of
It's hard to believe, but at 4pm BST today it will be exactly a year since Nick Davies and Amelia Hill published online a leak from Operation Weeting, the newly recreated (third) investigation into phone hacking, and revealed that the News of the World had hacked the phone of a missing 13 year old s
The critically acclaimed US television drama could not be made here. We have writing talent in abundance, but its output is controlled by a stifling monopoly—the BBC. Plus, an interview with The Wire's creator David SimonRead Prospect’s interview with The Wire’s creator David Simon, in which
No, there is no major news about the three major investigations into multiple phone and computer hacking, bribing police officials, or perverting the course of justice by News International in the the UK. Nor is there any major development in the DOJ investigation into the parent company
Today in the High Court, News Group Newpapers, the News Corp subsidiary responsible for the defunct News of the World and The Sun, is settling dozens of hacking and surveillance claimsin an attempt to avoid a high court case on Feb 13th which could result in punitive damages.
There are over 60 hack
Plain text beneath the fold
Neither a philosopher, critic nor scholar, somehow Waiter Benjamin (born 15 July 1892) succeeded in being all three at once.His friend Bertolt Brecht called his suicide in 1940
For anyone following the #hackgate FOTHOM diaries, you'll know that that the slow motion crash of Murdoch's UK Empire is still developing. But it wasn't until Rush Limbaugh's recent implosion that I began to think this isn't just about News Corp, even though it is the world's 3rd biggest media group
Exclusive to Prospect online, the full transcript of Peter Jukes's interview with historian and author Tony Judt
Peter Jukes (right) with Judt (middle), 2007
Tony Judt died, surrounded by his family, on the evening of August 6th, 2010. The New York Times obituary can be read here. This
WHEN Peter Jukes let it be known last year that he was writing a book called The Fall of the House of Murdoch, a senior Sun editor emailed him to say: "Is this a joke?"
But with Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson both now facing charges over phone-hacking, and Rupert Murdoch slowly stepping back from
By Peter JukesJune 18th 201310:46 amCharles Saatchi built up the world’s largest advertising firm and became the face of the swinging ’80s in London—only to be ousted from his own company. Peter Jukes on the reclusive man who now has been accused of choking his
Until a few years ago, you could be climbing any chalk down in Southern England. Trails lead up from a council estate, past a recreation ground. On the slopes above, young men with tattooed arms walk their dogs. The grass is like an old rug, woven with wild flowers, cabbage whites and meadow browns.
English version of the article that first appeared in the Polish Magazine Krytyka Polityczna
Though it claims to be one of the world’s fasting growing religions, and now holds over $1 billion in liquid assets, last year wasn’t great for the Church of Scientology. The news that its most famous pub
Having seen the excellent TV series, I'm disappointed by the novelisation of Middlemarch. George Eliot's book lacks the rigour and economy of Andrew Davies' original. Long authorial interventions ruin the immediacy and the balance between the characters of Lydgate and Dorothea has been lost. A
Today in Parliament
As expected, the appearance of James Murdoch, the Chief Executive of News International (and related to some other famous people) before the DCMS Committee today failed to produce any huge bombshells. Let's remind ourselves that the Parliamentary Committee has no real power
I’ve spent much of the last year on the front line of one of the most contentious presidential nomination contests in memory—without moving from my London desk. I have been part of something historic: the first great political battle to take place in cyberspace.
For many in Britain, blogging
THE DARK WAVE
“Looking out to sea, I noticed a dark black object travelling toward the shore. At first sight it seemed like a low range of hills rising out of the water…. A second glance – and a very hurried one at that – convinced me that it was a lofty ridge of water many feet high.”
As my colonial cousins recover from an overdose of turkey and tryptophan, let me prod you into consciousness with the Frank Miller problem - which also allows me to post some awesome pics.
No, the Frank Miller problem isn't as simple as you think. From his slapdash rant about the OWS movement on hi
It was a long time coming, but inevitable six months ago. James Murdoch has stepped down as chair of News International, signalling the Fall of the House of Murdoch as the dynastic succession to Rupert's News Corp empire is finished. The official statement - which is probably worth no more than a ho
Displaying items by tag: aesthetics
One of the most common criticisms of pulp fictions and splatter movies is that the violence is somehow ‘senseless’. But the objection begs the question. Is there any such thing as sensible violence?
Clearly there is. Sensible violence surrounds us like muzak in a shopping arcade, so continuous it’s almost inaudible. Force - or the threat it - underlies the sanction of the law and the authority of the state. Murders, batterings and rapes provide our staple in the papers. It has been estimated that the average American will witness some 20,000 simulated television deaths in a lifetime. This amazing daily body count rarely provokes an outcry. Meanwhile, Reservoir Dogs fails to get a certificate for video release because of a torture scene in which a policeman has his ear sliced off. It’s not that this so-called ‘senseless’ violence is devoid of feeling. Quite the opposite. It’s got too much feeling. It’s too graphic, too vivid, too real.
Modern screen violence is often called a metaphor. But for what? More than anything it’s a metaphor for artistic power. The balletic brutalities of The Godfatherand Raging Bull helped their directors to the Oscars. This year, a new generation of practitioners was ushered in when Clint Eastwood handed Quentin Tarantino the Cannes Palme D’Or. Martin Amis has noted how, sometime between The Wild Bunch and Bonny and Clyde, gore became a rite of passage, a credential for entry into the academy. But the tradition is much more venerable. It goes back through Fritz Lang’s White Heat and D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance beyond the origins of cinema.
All artists are violent, at least towards their fictions. The history of art is a litany of carnage, from Laocoön to Hirst’s formaldehyde shark. Dramas have always centred around natural born killers - Titus Andronicus and Cracker spring immediately to mind. Destruction seems to be a key part of the creative act.
This destruction has a good - indeed divine - precedent. If artists are effectively gods of their own fictional worlds, invisible but all powerful, they display all the caprice and judgement of the Old Testament Jehovah, unleashing floods, plagues, fires, deciding arbitrary but nearly always bloody fates.
Though mayhem may be the perennial stuff of fictions, film gives it a uniquely modern edge. From the Lumière brothers’ first trick of terrifying their spectators with an oncoming express train, the camera constantly probes into previously obscene extremes, trying to show us things we couldn’t otherwise witness and survive. Film makes us both close up and remote. Contrast this with the intimate distance of classic theatre. In Greek tragedy sex or violence takes place behind a screen. When Oedipus is blinded, the audience doesn’t see it. Instead, the hero describes his immolation in a speech after the event. But this distancing device actually draws us in. We can imagine the violent from his point of view. In our blindness we share his insight.
By the time the ‘vile jelly’ is pulled out of Gloucester’s eye sockets in King Lear the rules have begun to change. As Fielding put it: we see everything but we can’t look. That emphasis culminates in the shocking cut from Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou - a woman’s cornea, sliced by a razor, the vitreous jelly oozing out. We see the effect but are deprived of any meaning. The deeper we inspect, the blinder we become.
Yet violence is not just a cheap cinematic trick, an easy way out. Technically, it makes the most testing demands on scriptwriters, actors and directors. The key technical revolution took place in the 60s with the first explosive squibs and blood packs, the jerk harnesses employed for the shotgun blast. Various fads have followed since: prosthetics in Alien and The Thing, exploding brains in De Palma’s Untouchables - all superseded by Terminator II and the use of computer graphics. But it’s not just the technology that makes violence graphic, the entire array of the cinematographer has to be deployed to this end: music, sound effects, reaction shots, camera movement and imaginative editing. Tarantino has said the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs is his favourite in the entire movie. From a technical point of view, you can see why. This is a virtuoso musical performance, scored with blood, petrol and pain.
Perhaps the real offence such scenes do is not to our morals but our consistency. Virtuoso violence exposes all kinds of contradictions and hypocrisies. On the reactionary right, it reveals the obvious paradox: those who object to it are unlikely to be pacifists in real life. Like the pro-lifers who call for capital punishment, it is often the smackers and birchers who complain loudest about the contents of the video shop. But the libertarian left is in a similar bind. When Elizabeth Newson compiled research linking aggression with violent films, she was met with widespread derision from this quarter. Critics and academics rubbished the suggestion there was causal link between mere images and real behaviour. Yet, these same academics and critics are often first to demand censorship when it comes to sexual or racist stereotyping. They subscribe to the Enlightenment belief that art has moral and cultural efficacy. Yet they refuse to extend this belief to negative effects.
The only way out of the circular moral arguments is to criticise fictional violence in its own terms, for its aesthetic - or anaesthetic - impact. Violent fantasies attend us from infancy, and as Bruno Bettelheim shows in The Uses of Enchantment suppressing them only increases their spell. He contrasts an anodyne censored version of The Three Little Pigs with the carnivorous Grimm original. Young children often identify with both aggressor and victim, both with the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. The extreme conflict actually compels and resolves the child’s contradictory emotions. In the bowdlerised version, violence remains unspeakable. But in the politically incorrect original, destructive desires are dealt with in the secure fiction of a fairytale. As Bettelheim says: tell an aggressive child to think and it will hit you. Tell an aggressive child to hit you and he will think.
This is a highly sensitive use of violence. Like tragic catharsis, it confronts and resolves our hidden conflicts. However, this argument doesn’t undermine a causal link between real aggression and fiction. In fact, it does the opposite: if images can resolve, they can also split apart. Like the between erotica and pornography, there is absolute difference between the artistic use of violence and the exploitation of snuff. The latter works by the principle of escalation. Exposure leads to desensitisation and the search a stronger and stronger responses. Ultimately this cycle of shock and tolerance leads away from the fiction towards scenarios that have the bigger buzz of being real.
Ultimately, the real threat comes from anything that deadens our sensibilities, that adds to this general anaesthesia. Even without access to violent videos, aggression can be caused by boredom, a lack of stimuli rather than an excess of them. So maybe one day the censors will consider suppressing videos which are dull and tedious and dangerously banal. Then they might find themselves admitting the merits of the kind of violence Quentin Tarantino has portrayed: in the midst of death, full of life.
New Statesman December 1994