The Simple Act Of Watching A Film By Murray Smith Essay

1843 Words Dec 11th, 2016 8 Pages
The notion of perversity has a long, intertwined history with the moving image, most clearly depicted in the genres of pornography and horror. Furthermore, the simple act of watching a film is sometimes associated with voyeurism and fetishism. Smith explores these ideas in his piece, “Gangsters, Cannibals, Aesthetes, or Apparently Perverse Allegiances”, in which he defines perversion to be a “deliberate violation of moral precepts” and examines its relationship with audiences. He seeks to explain the distinction between material that is truly appalling and representations that tend to elicit positive reactions from audiences, despite their morally questionable content. By distinguishing various situations in which viewers support morally problematic characters and explaining the reasoning behind each circumstance, Murray Smith succeeds in explaining why audiences sympathize with ethically depraved characters. Smith begins his argument by refining the broad concept of perversity into first and second order perversities, and focuses on second order perversity, in which individuals take pleasure in immoral actions primarily because they are transgressive. He also differentiates “alignment”, in which the viewer often feels sympathetic towards the character, and “allegiance”, in which the viewer’s emotional response towards characters is determined by the moral structure of the film. This is an important distinction, since audiences can be aligned with a…

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