Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Do Filmmakers Have a Moral Responsibility? Such is the question posed to us by blogger extraordinaires Ronan of Filmplicity and Julian of Dirty With Class. At first, I thought this seemed a rather simple question. Duh, of course they do. Regardless of whether or not they like it, or feel the need to act upon, all human beings have a responsibility to be 'moral' - you know, as long as they prefer their world with a little bit less fire and brimstone.
Then, I thought about it. What does it really mean to have a 'moral responsibility' anyways? Well, at least with respect to publicly present artistic methods. It's an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, there really is no single thing as 'morality.' For the most part we all agree on a core group of dos and don'ts, but there's hardly consensus. Not to mention the dreadful confusion people experience on a daily basis - unable (or unwilling) to accept that moral can represent something greater.
Morality encapsulates a wide range of ideas, beliefs, and notions. Some are seemingly built on nature, while others tend towards nurtured perception (this is where you beg me to avoid a Deontology vs. Consequentialism rant). So, with all that hullabaloo going on, the question of moral certainty becomes rather vague. Movies have the potential to expose our greatest flaws, or inspire our highest form of social decency. But no matter how you slice it, interpretation and personal believe is going to muck up the joint.
The only real event that film's often (enough) portray that seems to retain a consistent reception is rape. As touchy a subject as there ever was, but on the whole people look down on any film that portrays such an act in either a positive (i.e. she 'enjoyed' it) light, or fails to enact some real level of justice against the perpetrator. Even then, the more vehement activists get, so seems to get the steadfast apologists and defenders.
So, perhaps the real crux of the question is "can filmmakers be truly 'moral.'" In all honesty, probably not. In recent years the fine line between moral righteousness and moral wrongness has become increasingly vague. Movies have the potential to explore the darkest depths of morality, and leave it to the viewer to decide what is right and what is wrong. Movies like Gone Baby Gone present ambiguous moral decisions and each viewer interprets and embraces/rebukes/contemplates the film's decisions as they see fit.
Sure, people like to debate about the 'awesomeness' of ideological killers like Jigsaw, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a legion of followers enacting their ways. Same things go for movies like the Fast and Furious series. There's a disconnect, and while some like to cry about an increasing loss of real-world awareness, it's still there. The real challenge is, will the disconnect remain? Especially when you factor in the one seemingly indestructible force in the universe - 'coolness.'