A Clockwork Orange: Debating the Art of Ultraviolence

catharsis: noun

1a: purification or purgation of the emotions (such as pity and fear) primarily through art

b: a purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension

2: elimination of a complex by bringing it to consciousness and affording it expression



Finally got into a debate on a film (it’s been a while). On a Discord server. Food for thought on how A Clockwork Orange, the film, inspired society, for better or worse. The whole thing was inspired on the take from “Scott is NOT A Professional Film Critic” regarding the film.

Very good review in regards to the Pavlovian association/warping of cultural artifacts in particular. Though I’m inclined to agree with the Scott is NOT a Professional Film Critic review in that A Clockwork Orange’s film adaptation leans too far in the direction of absolving Alex of personal responsibility due to surrounding negative influences

leans too far in the direction of absolving Alex of personal responsibility due to surrounding negative influences

I wouldn’t say it absolves Alex of personal responsibility so much as brings up the point that this is also a criticism of victim-culture. “It’s not my fault that I was raised wrong! They drove me into doing it! They’re the ones who are actually responsible for my crime!” This should sound familiar considering this is the same argument/excuse Alex makes when he is arrested.

The whole point of the film is to raise questions regarding the morals/ethics of what is shown. A part of that is about responsibility. Because everyone is influenced by something for doing the things that they do. The question is how much responsibility the individual should bear for the actions they did versus how much responsibility other individuals exerting a variable degree of influence upon them should bear. Regardless of the answer, the film indicates that society (or aspects of it) are leaning more towards the latter bearing the brunt of the responsibility rather than the former, and showcasing the disaster that follows. I’m also under the impression that the “old way” society is more about the former aspect, yet is critical about how it goes about punishing the individual for their crime (not that they shouldn’t be punished, but rather by what method and to what extent, questioning where the line that separates justice and vengeance should be located).

I don’t believe the film promotes the message that the individual should be absolved of personal responsibility because of external influences so much as it allows for that to be one of several possible conclusions one may reach regarding its meaning. Because in my opinion, the whole event the film centers around is about the dangers that come with absolving one of personal responsibility. Plus there’s the subtle indications that the “treatment” doesn’t work as well as advertised.

I also found Scott’s interpretation on this rather amusing:

Kubrick even goes out of his way to uglify Alex’s environment, so as to leave us no doubt as to who the real villains are. Thus, the blandly efficient Britain of the book becomes here a barren wasteland of trash-strewn government-issue housing projects with broken-down elevators, its police force comprised wholly of Gestapo-ready sadists.

Well who does he think is responsible for making Britain this “wasteland” as he calls it? Does he think it was government and/or law enforcement officials who draw phallic symbols on the walls? Is the elevator in a state of disrepair due to negligence (and/or budget constraints), or because the “impressionable” youth played a part in putting it out of service? Better yet, given the present state of things, isn’t this somewhat prophetic in hindsight? To this day, many argue over who is truly at fault for a once “blandly efficient” society falling to this level. It seems only fair the film should point out faults in all sides of the spectrum (the youth, the family unit, the government, the penal system, etc). Scott seems too ready to accuse the film of blaming anyone but the youth, when the film in actuality blames everyone. Plus Scott forgets one very important detail. The film begins and ends with Alex. At no point does any event occur of which Alex isn’t a witness. Alex is the narrator. This film is all from his perspective, and Alex breaks the 4th wall when narrating to us viewers. So the question should always be raised when one is watching a film like this: Can the narrator be trusted? According to Bob Ager, not really (I don’t currently agree with that conclusion, but I don’t agree with Scott’s either, so take that for what you will). So that should be taken into consideration as well.

Another thing worth mentioning from Scott:

Alex’s crimes are made palatable to us, even justified, by the fact that everyone else is so much worse than he is

That is a conclusion I never reached upon any viewing of this film, not even as a curiosity. Scott’s firm and narrow perspective doesn’t even entertain the idea that Alex’s crimes are just as bad, let alone worse. Scott has taken the position of, “The film forces us to not only sympathize with, but justify Alex’s actions because of how bad everyone else is.” As opposed to the view I came up with (even upon reading the novel), which is, “How much punishment does Alex actually deserve? Is the punishment going too far? If so, how far past the point of reasonable punishment has it gone? At what point should those doing the punishing be punished? At what point has he paid for his crimes? Can his crimes ever be repaid?”

Kubrick stated that, “Since [Alex] has his own rather special way of seeing what he does, this may have some effect in distancing the violence.” But everything in the film is distanced this way

Well duh. We see things from the perspective of the narrator. The only time we don’t (aside from this brief bit with his parents) is when that wheelchair-bound writer makes a phone call and flips out over the realization of who Alex is. Playing Devil’s Advocate here, this supports Ager’s theory that the narrator isn’t trustworthy; we see the writer go this over-the-top in order to gain sympathy with the narrator. Conflict of interest. I’ll end this on the amusing fact that the only actual sex scene we see is one in which the sex is consensual, yet done in a fast-forward. None of the other scenes that involve rape are ever seen carried out, save for that on the theater screen, which is itself a fake act. Indication on how the narrator views sex, or indication on how he biases his narration?

You didn’t address the point: the original Clockwork Orange novel had a lot more heinous acts committed by Alex (including child molestation) which were omitted from the film, which gives off a more likable pop-rebel effect. Some details had to be omitted for censorship purposes, but Alex’s flair combined with how the authority figures in the film are so unlikable — sometimes drastically so; the behavioral advisor of the book is morphed into some kinda rapey creep — make the gangs seem far preferable. As far as the unreliable narration theory — though I can’t even tell if you’re using that as a defense — is concerned, that isn’t necessarily a virtue that adds anything to the film. Aside from being inconsistently applicable (including in scenes where he isn’t present), it should be obvious that Alex doesn’t see his actions as heinous regardless of if a POV direction is toning it down and showing only dehumanized snobs getting beaten and buggered (and even then mostly offscreen before the disgust can kick in more effectively). Moreover, it’s the film’s cynicism and lack of any redemptive glimpses of positive humanity that leads to the potential to read it as celebration of anarchy, as Burgess attested to a screening in which he witnessed “blacks standing up and shouting, ‘Right on, man,’ because they refused to see anything beyond a glorification of violence.”

Incidentally, I’ve been re-evaluating Michel Haneke of late (not positively or negatively yet). Saw Funny Games early on into my interest for film and thought it a revelation, then later thought it rather one-note in comparison to Peckinpah or Kitano treatises on onscreen violence. But now I’m wondering if that film does hold value simply for being so blunt and acknowledging the fact that most audiences will fail to appreciate nuances in direction that complicate depictions of violence.

At the risk of further clogging this channel, two other thoughts on my mind: cultural degeneracy is even far more dangerous than government overreach of power, though obviously the two go hand-in-hand; also, while I certainly enjoy polyvalent works that challenge my ability to read form, we need more pop media that unambiguously endorses what is actually good and denounces what is actually bad just as forcefully and ubiquitously as leftist pop media endorses what is bad and denounces what is good.

A Clockwork Orange GIF by Maudit - Find & Share on GIPHY

While I don’t recall every detail from the book, I will acknowledge Alex was a bigger prick in it. He did treat those two girls he had sex with in a worse manner (but take note that I wouldn’t go so far as to call it child molestation considering Alex and his droogs are also younger in the novel, age 14 if I recall correctly). Same with how he treated his parents at the hospital. And yes, his behavioral advisor isn’t an implied molestor. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say the gangs are preferable by comparison. That’s a stretch, to say the least, given we actually see the gangs rape and kill people. I mean, what is it exactly that makes the authority figures more unlikable (ie less preferable) than Alex and his droogs? Regarding the film being considered a celebration of anarchy (without considering the cherrypicking of what Burgess witnessed once in a theater, as that only serves to support my initial position as far as I’m concerned), of course it is. Alex is an anarchist, he’s the narrator, he rebels against authority, he views it all as justified in his own way while convincing the viewers as well. Of course the film is going to come off as pro-anarchist on the surface. That whole thing with the classical music playing over immoral acts act as an indicator as to how Alex views things, how he feels with these things. That’s why the first act of the film has a generally more uplifting vibe as far as music is concerned. I view it less as how Kubrick wants us to feel so much as how he wants us to feel how Alex feels.

What bothers me the most about Scott’s take is that he doesn’t consider that Alex can be viewed as unsympathetic by the film’s own merits. I certainly wasn’t viewing him that way for the most part. Only time I started feeling pity for him was by how much he was getting beaten during that later portions of the film, raising questions regarding how much suffering one should have inflicted upon him until he has paid for his crimes. Or if there’s an amount possible that could ever repay his crimes. Or if this form of suffering is called for in the first place.

Because other than that, in spite of not being shown the more gruesome aspects of his crimes, I’m not exactly viewing his beatdown of a drunkard, his running people off the road, his beating and raping of a couple, and his killing of a yoga chick to be something that’s to be viewed in a favorable light to say the least.

As for any favorable aspects of society, I could only see one (two if you count his parents). The pastor.

Consider though, why should society be all that favorable if the Ludovicho Technique is something that would even be considered in the first place.

#a clockwork orange from From the best movies ever made

But Alex’s perspective is not worth being intimate with, much less arguably sympathetically; his mindset is obvious and evil. Effectively speaking, all that the POV + direction’s distancing accomplishes is make the notion of violently taking it to the upper-class snobs and lower-class undesirables more seductive. Eyes Wide Shut, my favorite Kubrick, is more objective and judgemental on its weak-willed protagonist for trying to cheat than A Clockwork Orange is on the most violent character in Kubrick’s filmography. All this doesn’t go so far as to make it a bad film — it still has a lot of insight into Pavlovian association and the difficulty of reform — but it does make it less morally clear than it should be

For that matter, manipulation by Pavlovian association happens in pop media, not a laboratory; by using Alex’s POV and so on, Kubrick at best performs such a manipulation self-reflexively more than criticizing it in a clear and unambiguous manner. Frankly, I think that we need more pop media that does clearly dictate the messages that need to be told to shape the public positively; it’s how every culture good or bad maintains its power and coherence

But Alex’s perspective is not worth being intimate with

Say that again.

But Alex’s perspective is not worth being intimate with


But Alex’s perspective is not worth being intimate with


What’s a Paladin?

Because his mindset is obvious and evil? First of all, no mindset is ever obvious, not unless it’s considerably simplified and not open to debate. And even if it was, that’s no excuse not to be intimate with it (see Macbeth, or Devil’s Rejects, or The Sopranos, or Goodfellas). Second of all, evil? Highly open to debate. Even in the novel, if you get to the epilogue, it’s obvious Alex isn’t evil. He may have done evil things and had evil thoughts, but the novel ends on a note that he gets over (ie grows out of) all that.

What you’re proposing is a gross simplification of the entire character, even by the novel’s standards.

Even so, that’s not exactly the point or purpose of the film to pass judgement on Alex himself. Of course it’s less morally clear than those other films. The morality discussion is primarily up to the viewers. Of course it’s less objective and obvious about it, it’s putting that burden on the viewers. Less morally clear than it should be? It’s not supposed to be morally clear because it’s supposed to make the viewer ponder the morality of what he has seen. “Should be” is too presumptuous for a film like this.

Though I could be wrong. Maybe we do need more films where the morality is spelled out for us leaving less food for thought, even from back in that time period.

Sure, I’ll say it again; putting the audience in a character’s POV — specifically, using direction to make violence more flippant as they see it — is not a virtue in itself. The movie makes us far more intimate with Alex’s elation (and suffering at the hands of the state) than his victims’ suffering, however extreme it may be, providing no implication that Alex’s perception is inaccurate and even little indication that the film is wholly from his subjective perspective.

Do you not understand subjective vs objective direction and the merits of each?

Pretty sure I understand subjective/objective direction. I just find it puzzling that Scott (and seemingly you) don’t consider that we’re supposed to be repulsed by this ultraviolence imposed by Alex, in spite of how flippant it is shown and how intimate we become with the protagonist (and despite Scott’s opinion on Kubrick’s intentions in this regard). You mine as well say we should all get rich off the stock market by whatever underhanded means necessary and party hard like there’s no tomorrow like they did in Wolf of Wall Street.

What I find most puzzling is the film connoisseurs/critics don’t consider that a film is made with the understanding that it’s made with respect to intended viewers who know that what they are seeing (Alex’s actions) are wrong. Because having it shown in such a way where it is bluntly condoned is rather quaint considering this is made fresh off the end of the Hays Code era. And showing it in that condoned manner makes it less thought-provoking. Normally, you can’t understand why someone does what they do unless you get into their mindset.

So I think it’s expected of the intelligent viewer to know these aren’t virtues per-se. It’s about how this viewpoint demonstrates precisely how these “good morals” (and “good culture”) can become corrupted under a certain viewpoint. The film has expectations of the viewer to be this mature/intelligent (for mature audiences only). People like Scott are under the impression that because this film can have disastrous effects upon the impressionable, it shouldn’t exist to impress anybody. Mine as well as say The Matrix shouldn’t exist because it causes impressionable viewers to shoot up a school.

I’m not saying everyone who sees it turns into a psycho, even if incidents did follow in the film’s wake. I’m saying that nothing is gained from making the story told from the biased perspective of a “victim of society” who lashes out against stifling snobs and anonymous bums. The film would be less flawed and no less effective by humanizing Alex’s victims; we already know that he doesn’t care for human life, why stick to his subjective view and never objectively show any of that life as anything but unlikeable or pathetic?

Like the whole film, the ending is an intriguing mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s likely there is no redemption and all hope is lost. On the other, there is a worthwhile implication that interested powers stand ready to “never let a crisis go to waste” by harnessing Alex’s degeneracy for their own ends. I think that to perfect the film, one would dial back the dullness of the state and instead imply a cronyism between government and big business to introduce degeneracy to the culture.

As it is, Alex is the most stylish among victims of abuse by killjoys, when a better determinist take would be to make him one of hoards of impressionable heads of mush who is shaped to be immoral by those who stand to profit from destabilizing culture. The former is emphasized much more than the latter

The film would be less flawed and no less effective by humanizing Alex’s victims; we already know that he doesn’t care for human life, why stick to his subjective view and never objectively show any of that life as anything but unlikeable or pathetic?

Bingo! I’d like to flip that back onto you showcasing the other point of the film. Subversion of tradition, of what is normally good and innocent. So many films go about humanizing “victims” in order to demonize the “villain.” If we go by what you’re saying, seems like it was an intentional choice to flip that tradition completely on its head to go along with that theme of subverting established works. Consistency and implication of self-awareness (which the viewer should catch onto). The idea that this is a partial satire of films that were biased for the complete opposite reason. “Why not take it from the alternative perspective for once?” is something Kubrick probably asked; especially when the source material is ripe for that, given whose POV we’re following.

There are flaws with your comment though, because it disregards that couple Alex and the droogs beat and rape, plus the woman Alex ends up killing. If nothing else, you could say Alex’s victims become humanized when that wheelchair-bound man rambles about how his wife suffered after that incident. And how that incident drove him to madness.

In any case, it only seemed like the bum had the unlikable pathetic life.

Plus the last scene of the film is a situation where I wouldn’t be so sure Alex can be viewed as a victim. He may be hospitalized, but he intentionally lies to the politician, indicating his potential for manipulating others to his benefit. Which is something that I believe supports that latter point of him shaped to be immoral by those who stand to profit from destabilizing culture. Already established it destabilizes religious morality, which last I checked is a part of culture.

Everyone remembers that Alex kills innocent people; it just so happens that the couple and that woman are not only brutalized largely off-camera — the writer’s wife is shown to the camera in fetishistic fashion yet not shown being penetrated, and as Alex smashes the woman’s head in we get a too-cute cut to a screaming painting. Moreover, they’re total cartoon characters, snobbish overacting freaks. All this is theme in itself. And I don’t care if Kubrick “intentionally” humanized a murderous rapist.

Incidentally, I read the ending, especially Alex having degenerate thoughts and his eyes rolling, as the mindwashing program working to totally remove Alex’s will and make him the state’s well-groomed Ken doll to march out to the public in order to sell them on mindwashing more people and throwing in whatever protocols on top. That’s interesting, yet on another note I do not like the film’s hiply denouncing mental health institutions, but that’s a topic for another time.

And I don’t care if Kubrick “intentionally” humanized a murderous rapist.

You missed the point I was making if that’s what you took away from my previous comment. It’s less that he humanizes Alex than it is he treats everyone else as villainous because that’s how they would be from Alex’s perspective. Like I said, subversion of tradition.

Regardless, I’m of the opinion you and Scott take the “off-camera incidents” too seriously with regard to the conclusions made about it. I also question just what you’re expecting to see if Kubrick went ahead and actually showed the rape and skull-smashing (as in how it should be filmed, and in what method that would be deemed satisfactory). Not that what Scott says isn’t without merit, but one could make the argument that leaving it to the imagination can also make it disturbing.

Plus, let’s face it, everyone and everything in the film are cartoon characters, not just Alex’s victims.

While an argument is made about the film making Alex too appealing (in the subtle malicious manner Scott indicates), I can argue just as vehemently that Alex is portrayed as too irredeemable in the novel (up until the epilogue anyway, sympathies for the beatings he receives while treated aside). It should be taken into account however (and both the novel and film have this if I recall correctly), that there is this one moment where Alex punishes one of his droogs for insulting a woman singer while they’re at that, uh, pub (for lack of a better word). It could be argued that this is one slight redeemable element to his characters, to what small extent is debatable (certainly not enough to dissuade anyone from viewing him as despicable), but it’s there.

It’s been many years since I’ve read the novel, so I can’t say I recall the novel having an ending with that “groomed Ken-doll Alex” implication. If that is the case, I’m more interested in revisiting it now.

The novel implies legitimate reform, the movie implies he’s being totally controlled to act nice while inside he’s as evil as ever

Furthermore, the movie ending implies that showing off his “domestication” to the public is what allows the brainwashing to get public approval; he ends up being an unwitting tool. I think that if the movie has to be as cynical as Kubrick wanted it to be, this was an excellent way to do so

Again, I get that Alex views others as inferior and that putting the audience in his warped perspective is intentional; I’m saying it isn’t a worthwhile intent. It should be obvious from an objective perspective that doesn’t add any rhythmic whimsy to the violence that he thinks so.

To repair this, the film needed less making the characters goofy cartoons to be killed and more perspective from the victims, or at least more emotion about them to give them more function than to be butchered at Alex (and the direction’s) amusement


Legitimate reform? My impression was the novel implied people eventually grow out of their teen angst. And all things considered, I found it to be at odds with what preceded it.

That aside, it’s not a good idea to state “objective perspective” on what is clearly a subjective argument. Because what you’re asking for is what you personally believe would be an improvement, while it could result in a detriment. That the film’s disturbing nature can come from this subtle appealing nature to the ultraviolence that you so dislike (albeit for what I believe to be unintended reasons with regard to one of the film’s many purposes). I have stated why the film is effective with the direction it took, you have stated your disagreements and why you agree with Scott’s take. I say we’re at a point where we’ll have to agree to disagree.

I’ll keep this going to its natural conclusion. Putting aside the “art is subjective” thing (which I’m also having more and more doubts against), you don’t understand subjective vs objective direction, a fundamental aspect of film grammar. Subjective direction shows events in a biased or otherwise unreal perspective; objective direction shows events in a literal sense. The only thing the film gets out of presenting the whole story from Alex’s whimsical, self-pitying, dehumanizing subjective view (which tells us things about his character we could have inferred from an objective view) is that his violence is more palatable and the film ends up being a similar sort of Pavlovian association/mind control as the Ludovico technique. Interviews or no, it comes off as an attempt to demonstrate of the potential of art to facilitate havoc, and evidently it succeeded.


So the film serves as a sort of meta-warning for the enlightened film critic caste or whomever to beware of the power of media and Pavlovian influence. After all, most people are gullible to an extreme extent; just look at Hollywood’s effects in cultural engineering today. I can appreciate a goal to combat this phenomenon, but I don’t think most people who watch the film will “get” it — even if only a few go out beating up hobos, either — so is it really effective? Haneke also confronted this question by remaking Funny Games in the US, as if to highlight how the original did not have the power to accomplish its anti-nihilistic goal. I’m still left pondering the question of if art has pop merit or we’re ultimately doomed to a dichotomy outlined by Jean-Luc Godard in Je vous salue, Sarajevo:

There is a rule and an exception. Culture is the rule and art the exception. Everyone talks about the rule: cigarettes, computers, t-shirts, television, tourism, war. Nobody talks about the exception. It is not said. It is written: Flaubert, Dostoyevski It is composed: Gershwin, Mozart It is painted: Cézanne, Vermeer It is filmed: Antonioni, Vigo Or is lived and becomes the art of living: Srebenica, Mostar, Sarajevo The rule wants the death of the exception.

you don’t understand subjective vs objective direction

Excuse me? Alright, if you want a fight that badly, you got one. I’m taking the gloves off. No one tells me what I understand while misrepresenting what I stated with no good evidence to back it up, and gets away with it. I state the conclusions of your arguments are based on subjectivity, and you respond with I don’t understand the objective viewpoints of the film itself? That’s a dodge if I ever saw one. Try dodging this.

We both agree that film objectively shows that Alex is not a good person because of the actions he does just for fun. We both agree that this was portrayed in a subjective direction to showcase events from a certain perspective (as is the case for most, if not all, films). What we don’t agree upon is the intention and takeaway, with you going to far as to state a respectable amount of other viewers will inevitably take it the wrong way and make society worse as a result from watching this one film (you moral grandstanding bastard).

You view the decision to hold back on the more violent/disturbing aspects of his actions as some misguided method of film-making that inevitably results in some form of subtle mind-control that’s going to cause viewers to do similar violent deeds (which if nothing else, should that happen, would result in them actually see how bad these actions really are first-hand, assuming they haven’t already seen them replicated more grittily in another film beforehand).

I view it as a way of making Alex slightly more sympathetic (and more human) than in the novel, which results in more mixed feelings when he is suffering from the Ludovicho treatment. Which is the point. The film’s intentions are to make the viewer ponder the morality of it all. Which I consider to be a more interesting direction that the simplified well-intentioned reform in the novel.

Both are subjective views. Only one punishes the film for what it might cause more than for what it is.

Then there’s that moment in the theater where Alex is watching violent acts, which replicate what he and his droogs have done in that very detail you seem to be screaming for. Did the whole point of why it was done that way fly over your head too? Guess the quote from Alex didn’t let it sink in either:

It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you view them on the screen.

What’s this? A hint from the movie that provides more reason as to why it was made the way it was, with self-awareness and acknowledgement? Another indication into Alex’s mindset, and the mindset of others who are like him? Or maybe you have another subjective opinion on how that moment should be viewed.

These same moral grandstanding arguments your making are the same ones made against films like The Matrix (and games like Doom), like Death Wish (both originals and remakes), like The Warriors (another that got pulled from theaters), like Heat (inspired a bank robbery), and Straw Dogs (some even going so far as to say that it’s pro-rape). There’s always going to be gullible morons who take films in a certain way so as to have an excuse to let loose these violent tendencies that were already in their nature independent of the film’s existence. That doesn’t mean the less gullible and more high-minded viewers should be restricted from having films that satiate their wants. Otherwise, you have no idea how many films I would want eradicated if I was to follow that mindset. But I’m aware the dangers that possesses.

Straw Dogs had moral objective and intimate subjective perspective across the flawed cast to make them humanly sympathetic while not excused for their actions, the protags of Death Wish, Heat, The Warrior had a sense of street honor while also being shown as vulnerable and somewhat deluded, and fantasy films and games (while potentially desensitizing) have a clear barrier/internal logic of total unreality to them.

The depiction Alex as a nigh-indomitable sexy proto-Dexter (the murderer not the boy genius) against a weirdo killjoy society implies a subjective POV telling character traits we would still have been aware of in a more objective presentation that didn’t desensitize Alex’s actions or dehumanize his victims’ emotions. Intentional or not, the effect of this tone and Kubrick’s whimsical ad campaign was to perform Pavlovian manipulation on the general audience, a sort of proof-of-concept for its own horrors, which is interesting for film analysis but probably a bad influence on pop culture in one of those “learning the wrong lessons” scenarios

character traits we would still have been aware of in a more objective presentation

Oh, enough with this bullshit. All this really translates to is, “I didn’t like this method, I prefer a different one. I wish the movie had done things that way instead of this way because I would’ve like it better.” That’s not an argument for showcasing how the film can be better on an objective level and you (should) know it. It’s your personal tastes, your subjective opinion, and you’re entitled to it. While the rest of us who appreciate the film for what it is and regard this method it utilizes with merit are entitled to ours. You haven’t come up with one damn thing stating why it would be objectively better adhering to your preference other than, “But think of the people!”

Fuck the people. “The people” are a bunch of dumb fucks who are so easily manipulated that a film doesn’t even have to be in the same league as A Clockwork Orange to manipulate them. They don’t need your advice for how to fix a movie on an ethical basis to make it worse. They already do that enough. That’s why we’ve been getting such shitty films over the past decade that have done more than enough damage with their own fucking Pavlovian manipulation. They don’t need you adding to the problem, adding to the number killjoys in the entertainment industry.

All that and it’s only your interpretation (or how to take) the take-away from the movie. Despite what justification you bring for those other movies, that didn’t stop them from being controversial and influencing other dumb fucking people to do dumb fucking things.

“The Warriors had a sense of street honor.” But it glorifies gangs and gang violence and caused fights in theaters! “Straw Dogs portrays everyone as morally grey.” And it states women like getting raped!

You could make up any bullshit moral grandstance for any of those films regardless of their merits/intentions. Just as you’re doing with Clockwork Orange.

Wow, imagine if I’d criticized a movie he gave higher than an 8/10 to

Alrighty, you take five, I’ll stop before you blow a blood vessel. Glad we had this, in any case, since it not only helped me strengthen my position but also gave me material I’m using in future reviews

Likewise. Though I’ll be damned if I can comprehend how this could’ve strengthened your position given what was thrown at it.

Some post-debate thoughts on this. Another point worth bringing up that I only caught onto recently thanks to youtube reviewer Malmrose Projects is one of those things Kubrick is known for doing. Mise-en-scene giving hints about things that provide further details into the world/characters/events that is easy to miss. I’d say this neither helps nor hurts either side of the debate, as it won’t sway anyone who has made up their mind regarding the influence of the film and Alex’s character on the impressionable, and whether or not that should negate much of what else the film has to offer because of that (cons outweighing the pros line of logic). In the scene with that woman with all the cats and the sexually explicit artwork, there’s a painting in the background of a woman wearing clothing that has a hole cut around her breast leaving it exposed, as well as a gag over her mouth. The implication that Alex took inspiration from this artwork that he had seen somewhere else in the past (an art that isn’t unique to this household, thus it is in other households or galleries). Thus the implication that art can inspire others to commit violence. That culture and society which normalizes these aspects (as we see more indications of even outside this structure, in this dystopian society) ultimately causes people, particularly the youth, to act out as Alex does.

Oh the irony. Especially given the incident that seemed to make the film’s point. Though the film points out the double standards of this irony, as a canvas painting, a non-movie depiction, of these forms of art is generally more acceptable that film depictions, yet is no less influential. This, along with the ultraviolence, is shot ins such a way that its allegorical (and easier to stomach), which is one of the primary elements that make it so controversial, as this discussion has shown.

So, should various forms of art be banned? Or should members of society simply be raised and trained to be on guard of such influences and temptations they’re bound to come across at any point in their life regardless of whether this art exists or not (particularly by having a caring society)? I’m more of the mindset that it should come in moderation. Restricted enough to where it’s not accepted everywhere (this film is rated NC-17 after all), but not so restricted that mature/responsible individuals aren’t prohibited from accessing it. As both the book and the film imply, an individual should be left with the ability to have freedom of choice, as the consequences of doing otherwise are considerably worse. Having that freedom, while also having a society structure in such a way where one wouldn’t naturally want to do violence towards others (simply because they wouldn’t feel like it, as there would be other appealing things to do), would be the ideal solution. So that works of art like this can be looked upon as fascinating, but also quaint and antiquated with regard to its depictions on how members of society used to be in general. Where society is cured, not those who have failed to conform to society. Because forcing conformity results either in rebellion (whether from rebellions teens, or from activists and organizations), or in a 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Animal Farm, whatever worst-case-scenario outcome there is when it comes to government control that forces conformity by any means necessary.

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