I feel that exploring Jean Baudrillad’s theories surrounding images of violence and the comparing of reality TV shows to snuff films assisted me into creating a more specific idea. Debord’s theories also helped me to home in and fine tune my idea. Perhaps in the future if I am ever struggling with an idea or trying to establish a good point to expand on I can look at the theories and writings of various theorists and philosophers. It was also interesting to see people’s fascination of gore as well, since it is also a form of media no matter how disturbing it is. The artefact also enabled me to improve my editing skills as I worked hard to add in a variety of twitches and frame drops to symbolise roughly shot footage – if you’re killing someone you would probably focus less on video. Most of all I found the feedback from the class seminar very helpful, it enabled me to focus on what other improvements I could do – something I would simply not have thought of by myself. Looking back at my work I could have paid more attention to the rise of gore sites in parallel to the advances in the internet; possibly more video recorded violence and killing and established a link between them. All in all I think my artefact did well to demonstrate that serial killers can be seen as a spectacle, something that I had hoped to achieve.
The spectacle artefact was a little tricky to show to the class because I worried that the content may have been a little peculiar for some (even though it probably looked more fake than anything). My goal was to make the artefact look like a snuff film, as opposed to make it look beautiful. It had to be filmed in one long take so the acting had to be satisfactory throughout. Moreover various effects like noise, artefacts and colour correction were added in to give an effect of a legitimate, but crappy tape recording. I received an adequate amount of feedback which helped to improve the artefact a great deal more.
Originally I had a very deep drone as the ambient/background noise but it was too quiet to even notice, and feeling that it was not tense enough I found an even creepier track to put on. The idea was to make the audience feel as uncomfortable as possible; as one study had previously suggested that low frequency sounds induce fear or awe in the viewer. Whilst it was a requirement for me to use full diegetic audio, the added audio did sound like the sounds that would have been captured during the real recording. Perhaps the high pitched sound effect when the victims head is shown could replicate the killer’s ruthless screaming.
The ‘Ministry of Defence’ evidence tape-style start was actually influenced a lot by the start of Cloverfield (2008). The content in the title sequence had to suggest that whatever was in the artefact had to have happened not long ago – this was achieved in After Effects. Since I had some experience with the program it was not too difficult playing around with composition and animation.
The biggest suggestion I received was that the ending was.. well, there was no ending. It was too abrupt. Even though this was intentional – assuming that after something gruesome happens on an evidence tape (as you seen in the movies) the video player is usually paused when someone says something along the lines of ‘I’ve had enough’ – edited to an effect similar to a VHS being paused. Whilst I thought this was pretty cool, it didn’t go well with the class. The original ending was at approximately 01:43 in the artefact, and was extended by about 11 more seconds. The new ending featured a violently edited serial killer staring into the lens showing off the victim’s bloody head before showing ‘end of tape’ and powering down – it was now evidence tape from start to finish. However with this ending the artefact felt much more complete as opposed to the sudden stop of the original.
At some point in their lives everyone has rubbernecked – it is simple human nature to see what happened. It’s not normal to look at human suffering but a lot of people do. Since it is socially acceptable to become famous by being on a reality TV show (either by being a husband/wife/mum or performing something dumb) why can’t the rise to fame extend to gore sites and snuff films for psychopaths or even sociopaths – unfortunately this is what these type of people believe, and they would want to do anything to get money or fame for it as time has shown.
I wanted to make my artefact a ‘snuff’ style film because it was I wanted to play around with effects and reality. What would people’s reaction be?
John Wayne Gacy, Jr was an American serial killer who murdered around 33 teenage boys and men between 1972 and 1978. He was labelled as the ‘Killer Clown” due to his charitable services at fundraising events, parades and children’s parties where he would dress as “Pogo the Clown”, a character he created himself.
My serial killer has to be a spectacle of some kind, whether in his actions or his appearance. The latter is easier to do because I am not planning to go into a great deal of special effects to make sadistic rituals or satanic executions look real. I would rather make the killer wear something special, something that will make him infamous – since my friend has a honey monster costume (a look-alike, not official) lying around which would make him stand out as “the cerial killer”. The honey monster was originally the mascot of sugar puffs hence the name cerial killer.
The whole thing would need to be shot in one whole take and edited to show the poor quality camerawork, constant skips and maybe even artefacts due to tape damage. The victim would be traditionally tied in a chair and probably taunted and executed shortly after. It will be part of an evidence tape (intro sequence stating the evidence tape message) to imply that it is somewhat real and maybe valuable to snuff film collectors.
False snuff films also exist, films that were genuinely mistaken for looking a bit too realistic: The Guinea Pig Films and Cannibal Holocaust. The former was only mistaken because of the grainy and unsteady quality of the video as if it was recorded be amateurs – something that could influence my own snuff film (similar effects and colour). Funnily enough both parties of filmmakers had to prove that their films were not real.
What makes killers so fascinating and what makes people so fascinated with killers are one and the same question. Luke Magnotta was unknown to the world until Canadian government officials received dismembered body parts, but when he was arrested a week later in June 4th his story and name became infamous. He had made a video (named 1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick) of himself killing, severing and eating his victim – the video circulated online leading to an international manhunt, arrest and eventually the celebrity status he had wanted.
This ties in with another of Jean Baudrillard’s theories of globilsation, how the 9/11 attacks were caused by advances in technology rather than religion. Snuff films are supposed to not exist, but thanks to the internet and cheap cameras, people’s ability to film and distribute torture and death has become a whole lot easier.
Plenty of gore and shock sites exist (documentingreality, rotten, goregrish) and contain a lot of sick material that has been collected from real life killings and torture, either from places of civil unrest or drug cartel beheadings. Even to the point where a real snuff video might surface and the users of such sites see it first-hand. One of the earliest sites dedicated to vile content was Rotten.com established in 1996, originally featuring disgusting medical conditions and other accidents. By the 2000s many more shock sites appeared and disturbing video became much easier thanks to advances in internet technology.
In 2009, two Russian teenagers were found guilty of murdering 21 people during a two month spree, whilst filming several of their murders (dubbing it 3 Guys 1 Hammer). Whilst this footage appealed to some people it was ultimately used for their conviction at trial.
Armin Meiwes was a German man who gained international notoriety for killing and eating a voluntary victim in 2001 that he had found on the internet. He filmed himself cutting up the victim and eating various body parts. The video was only shown to journalists and court members and has not yet made its way online – but there are many that anticipate its arrival. The video too secured his sentence, even though the victim was completely voluntary and that he had released those who wer enot confortable with the whole process.
Marek (one of the admins) from BestGore.com states that “Bad guys evolve as fast as the rest of the society, we live in an internet age. It’s only normal that the internet became the communication platform for the perpetrators…You won’t see perpetrators mailing letters with words cut out of a newspaper glued onto it to draw attention to their crimes anymore. [A] new generation of violent people will use the internet as a platform of choice for various purposes.” Violence has always existed, but it’s coming to a point where one’s sick actions can be easily shown to the wide world for a simple celebrity status.
Secret world of the suburban cannibal – http://www.theage.com.au. 2012. Secret world of the suburban cannibal – http://www.theage.com.au. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/01/14/1073877901829.html. [Accessed 29 November 2012].
Snuff: Murder and torture on the internet, and the people who watch it | The Verge. 2012. Snuff: Murder and torture on the internet, and the people who watch it | The Verge. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/13/3076557/snuff-murder-torture-internet-people-who-watch-it. [Accessed 29 November 2012].
William Pawlett, 2007. Jean Baudrillard: Against Banality (Key Sociologists). Edition. Routledge.
Thinking of an idea for the spectacle artefact proved to be the most challenging. At first I was unsure on whether I should create a spectacle myself or base my artefact on a past spectacle, but after consideration the former choice sounded more interesting to do – I would prefer creating something myself. The obstruction however, was to look at one of the propositions from Guy Debord’s ‘Society of the Spectacle’ or Jean Baudrillard’s ideas, these narrowed things down a bit and allowed me to focus on something more specific. The quote that fascinated me the most was number 9 from Debord:
“In a world that really has been turned on its head, truth is a moment of falsehood.”
This can be interpreted in many ways. Certain horrific actions or events that could occur in the world never get out to the media. Everything bad that one can think of has actually happened – some might think that hell doesn’t exist, yet we already live in it. Snuff films are a good example, they are supposed to be urban legend but they do exist, and in more volumes than you can imagine. The media is constantly talking about how murderers are convicted and how crime statistics are going down, but in reality people are still committing atrocities.
Baudrillard explored reality TV shows in the late 1970s and argued that it demonstrated ‘the mutation of the real into the hyperreal’ and later on returned to the theme that ‘when everything is on display (like Big Brother type reality shows) we realise there is nothing else to see’. Baudrillard insists that there is a direct, logical connection between ‘reality’ TV and snuff movies, ‘at the same time as they try to make it (death) disappear technologically, death will reappear on the screen as an extreme experience’.
So thinking further about these theories I thought about creating a snuff film (the ultimate reality show) which showcases a spectacular serial killer and the spectacular interest that people might get in their quest to find and see what he does. A snippet from a snuff film which shows the ‘spectacular’ serial killer taunting and then killing his victim. The start of the artefact will feature ‘police evidence tape’ to imply that is real.
Why is society so interested in gruesome things? We are so hateful of death and killing yet we can’t take our eyes over some crazy footage that occasionally leaks onto the internet. Murderers can be seen to make a spectacle of their murders and can even become celebrities in a way, either by their code or method.