Unlike Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’, which is narcissistic, plagiarised, suety, historically and morally questionable, the Japanese director Koji Shirashi’s film ‘Grotesque’ has been denied a certificate by the British Board of Film Censors. The board said the film was concerned with the assault, humiliation and torture of two victims; themes included imprisonment, restraint, and sexual assault and the main characters receive horrific injuries until they die. It features minimal narrative or character development and presents the audience with little more than an unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism. The chief pleasure on offer seems to be in the spectacle of sadism for its own sake and for this alone, the BBFC is to be applauded.
Our curious predisposition to explore the caverns of our minds where the monsters dwell isn’t, of course, new. ‘120 Days of Sodom’ is an unrelenting and ultimately sickening parade of degradation, child molestation and torture, written by a depraved sociopath with a grudge against the Church. In former times he would have been labelled as ‘possessed’. I wonder if the same can be said of two pre-teen brothers who recently inflicted seemingly motiveless and savage violence on two even younger boys in Yorkshire. Authorities had had ‘extensive contact’ with the boys over several years.
It might be instructive for a clinical psychologist with plenty of time and a strong stomach to investigate these boys’ exposure to material that most humane members of society would throw up at.
The linkage seems so obvious. Exposure to the dark side has consequences for impressionable, perhaps weak personalities who have not enjoyed the benefits of competent, firm leadership during their earliest formative years. I fear that it is too late for them now.