Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · The New Face of Horror
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The New Face of Horror

Jane Louise Boursaw - February 2nd, 2006
Brutal killings, grisly beheadings, sadistic rapes... no, it’s not the 6 o’clock news, it’s what’s playing at the local cineplex. Or are they one and the same?
Gruesome horror movies are making a comeback, and teenagers are flocking to the theaters to see them, in spite of – or maybe because of – their R ratings. What’s the appeal? Could these movies be a reflection of the
cruel reality we see on CNN and Fox News every day?
Think about it. Over the past few years, the 24/7 news channels have brought us 9/11, the BTK Killer, Natalee Holloway, child kidnappings, brutal terrorists, suicide bombers, and gruesome beheadings in Iraq. And that’s just the tip of the terrifying iceberg. Perhaps filmmakers feel compelled to make movies that reflect what’s happening in the real world. But why do we feel compelled to see these ugly events again on the big screen?
Maybe because it helps us deal with the horrifying realities in the world and provides a cathartic way to process tragedy and human loss. And since the standard plot of most horror movies includes good prevailing over evil, maybe these movies give us hope that it will happen in real life, too.

But are filmmakers crossing the line? When “Chaos” was released in 2005, movie-goers left the theater filled with despair and futility. At the end of the film, the lone survivor was the evil one who’d murdered innocent characters in a variety of sadistic ways. As the screen goes dark, we hear his satanic laughter and realize there’s no rhyme or reason for his behavior. He isn’t playing out the forces of a heinous childhood as serial killer Aileen Wuornos did in 2003’s “Monster.” Nor is he seeking revenge, as the parents did in Ingmar Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring” (1960). He’s simply killing for the sake of killing.
Roger Ebert gave “Chaos” a zero-star rating, noting that the film was “an exercise in heartless cruelty that ends with careless brutality. The movie denies not only the value of life, but the possibility of hope.”
Ebert added that he believes evil can win in fiction, as it often does in real life, “but I prefer that the artist express an attitude toward that evil. It’s not enough to record it; what do you think and feel about it? Your attitude is as detached as your hero’s. If ‘Chaos’ has a message, it is that evil reigns and will triumph. I don’t believe so.”
Steven Jay Bernheim, producer of “Chaos,” responded this way: “Real evil exists and cannot be ignored, sanitized or exploited. It needs to be shown just as it is... and if this upsets you, disquiets you, or leaves you saddened, that’s the point.”
If being upset, disquieted, and saddened is indeed the point, we’ve had plenty of opportunities lately. Recent years have brought us “The Devil’s Rejects,” about a family of redneck serial killers; “High Tension,” about two young women terrorized in the woods; “The Ring,” about folks who are literally scared to death; “The Grudge,” about a lethal curse passed around like a cold virus; and “House of 1000 Corpses,” about teenagers imprisoned by serial killers.
Coming soon are remakes of two classic movies that provided the inspiration for many horror films: “When a Stranger Calls” (Feb. 3, 2006) and “The Hills Have Eyes” (March 10, 2006). Currently in theaters are “Wolf Creek,” “Saw II,” and “Hostel” – all of which harken back to the graphic slasher movies of the 1960s and ‘70s (think “Night of the Living Dead,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Halloween”).
For several years, filmmakers offered us a breed of movies that spoofed the horror genre, such as Kevin Williamson’s “Scream” and its two sequels. These movies winked at the horror genre, providing irony and humor, and audiences responded by laughing.
But Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films, which has released several grisly horror movies in recent years, says he believes splatter movies are making a comeback, and this brand of horror is alluring because “it’s got touches of realism that audiences today can relate to.”
“We’re never going to outspend the competition in the marketing or production of a movie,” adds Ortenberg. “We’re not going to blow people away with the latest million-dollar special effects. What we can do as well or better than the studios, perhaps in retro fashion, is a realistic, gut-level, visceral horror movie that doesn’t rely on special effects, and audiences are responding to that.”
And they’re clearly slapping down their $7.50 to see these movies. “Saw II,” for example, had a budget of $4 million and has grossed nearly $87 million at this writing. That’s not bad for a horror movie.

The first horror movie, “Le Manoir Du Diable” (aka The Devil’s Castle) (1896), made by French filmmaker Georges Melies, was only three minutes long and contained some elements of vampire films to come. Later horror films grew out of a number of sources, including witchcraft, folk tales with devil characters, fables, myths, ghost stories, and Gothic or Victorian novels from literary giants like Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker.
Through the years, horror films have given us axe murderers, flesh-eating zombies, sadistic killers, mutant babies, possessed girls, and every other sort of ghost, vampire, monster, and alien designed to scare us out of our wits. Horror movies deal with our most primal fears: our nightmares, vulnerability, alienation, fear of death and dismemberment, loss of identity, terror of the unknown, and the horror that resides in all of us.

Movies have the power to change the way we think. Done well, horror movies can educate us, give us hope, help us deal with the harsh realities of life and death, and offer a cathartic experience in a world gone seemingly mad. And maybe THAT is the point. To look evil straight in the eye and know that we can survive and find goodness in the world.
The question is, how much of the evil and brutality in our world today is being perpetrated by the generation that was raised on “Elm Street” and wore “Jason” costumes for Halloween? And is this new trend of horror films going to exacerbate the evil that walks among us?

Jane Louise Boursaw is a freelance journalist specializing in the movie and television industries, and the author of the syndicated movie column, Reel Life With Jane. Visit her online at www.ReelLifeWithJane.com or email jboursaw@charter.net.
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