Hannibal Lecter V. Immanuel Kant: An Application of Kantianism to Graphic Horror Film
HANNIBAL LECTER V. IMMANUEL KANT Alison E. Wilson Horror film as a genre has been around almost as long as film itself. In 1919 the first Frankenstein film was made, the cut lasted only 16 minutes, but it started the timeless tradition of horror film . After close to a century, horror film has changed drastically over time. While story lines have not varied much, the media itself has. The most influential of special effect advances was computer generated imagery (CGI) in 1973. As well as being able to aid in the supernatural effects, CGI has the ability to produce violent scenes with much more realistic blood and gore. We have films like The Hills Have Eyes (Wes Craven 2006) in which a family is raped, tortured, and murdered by a gang of desert mutants in the most graphic and realistic of manners. Horror films that use CGI have raised the bar for realistic images of blood and violence. Many of our current horror films have an emphasis of spectacle over plot. Though not all of these current horror films use CGI, most of them uphold this new tradition of visual excess until we are up to [our] eyes in gore, and loving it . I will refer to these types of current horror films as graphic horror. This thesis will not focus on issues of censorship, violence in the media, or causal influences of such exposure. Instead, I will be addressing two specific questions regarding graphic horror: How do we become engaged in graphic horror film? and Is graphic horror film morally wrong? Being mentally absorbed in film seems to be a given fact that does not require much attention or debate. However, the aim of this thesis is to ethically evaluate the nature of graphic horror film. In doing so we must look at the basic question of how we become engaged in film of any kind. By looking in depth at some explanations of this phenomenon, we can return to graphic horror film with a better understanding how we become engaged in its graphic narrative to begin with. Once we understand how we are engaged in graphic horror film we can evaluate it ethically. Audience engagement through identificationism will serve as the basis of the moral argument against graphic horror films. I will argue that graphic horror is morally wrong because it violates Kantianism. I will argue the formula of the end in itself as applied to graphic horror. I will discuss the issues that go into its application and finally I will discuss the possibility of graphic horror conveying moral lessons.