Blind attack

Posted by · 9:25 am · July 22nd, 2009

Charlotte Gainsbourg in AntichristThe imminent release of “Antichrist” on this side of the pond has prompted some amusing journalism, as outraged critics make flustered pleas for a return to tighter censorship. (Apparently, adults over the age of 18 can’t be trusted to make their own viewing choices.)

Of course, they’re obliviously playing into Lars Von Trier’s hands by publicising the film so generously — thanks to them, even my less cine-literate friends have now expressed interest in seeing it.

Unsurprisingly, the most hilarious tirade against the film comes from that bastion of little-Englander conservatism, the Daily Mail, in which self-proclaimed “libertarian” Christopher Hart strikes down upon the film with great vengeance and furious anger, even calling for it to be banned, and only briefly pausing to admit he hasn’t actually seen it:

You do not need to see Lars von Trier’s Antichrist to know how revolting it is.I haven’t seen it myself, nor shall I – and I speak as a broad-minded arts critic, strongly libertarian in tendency. But merely reading about Antichrist is stomach-turning, and enough to form a judgment.

He blusters onwards:

It doesn’t shock or surprise me in the slightest that Europe now produces such pieces of sick, pretentious trash, fully confirming our jihadist enemies’ view of us as a society in the last stages of corruption and decay.

If I were to see Antichrist, I don’t believe for a moment that it would incite me into copycat violent behaviour or make me a danger to others. But it would poison my mind and imagination, with explicit, ferocious scenes of sexual violence that would stay with me for ever. Isn’t that good enough reason to ban it, or at least demand extensive cuts?

Even by the Mail’s usual standards of right-wing harpyism, Hart’s piece is pretty unhinged stuff. Who advocates for art (whatever its merits) to be banned in this day and age anyway? Hart’s concern that innocent-minded children will be corrupted by the film on DVD is no less wrong-headed — frankly, if my (hypothetical) kid expressed even the remotest interest in seeing a film as rigidly arthouse in sensibility as “Antichrist,” I’d do small a dance of joy.

But as the laughs subside from reading the article, the despair over the journalistic ethics at play here sink in. How can any paper — even one as boneheaded as the Daily Mail — sanction a critique of a film by someone who hasn’t seen it? Even on his own hysterical terms, wouldn’t Hart’s argument be more coherent if his points of attack were more specific? (It goes without saying that even his potted synopsis of the film is littered with factual errors.)

Between films like “Antichrist” (which, as I’ve said before, isn’t quite as morally subversive as its marketers would like you to believe) and journalists like Hart, I think I know who is poisoning the public imagination more.

→ 8 Comments Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

8 responses so far

  • 1 7-22-2009 at 10:01 am

    RJNeb2 said...

    That man doesn’t deserve his job if he’s passing judgement on a film he hasn’t seen. I’m sure his job description doesn’t allow for that kind of behaviour. Utterly utterly ridiculous.

    Just confirms everything I’ve ever felt about that poisonous newspaper, the Daily Mail or – as I prefer to call it – the Daily Nazi.

  • 2 7-22-2009 at 10:05 am

    James D. said...

    When I read thinks like that, I can’t help but think it will not be released here, or at least get an NC-17, making it impossible to find in theaters.

  • 3 7-22-2009 at 10:29 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    I wouldn’t draw any such conclusions based on the ramblings of a hack like Hart. The film is heady stuff, but he makes it sound like the apocalypse itself.

    That said, it’s plainly NC-17 material, though I have a feeling IFC may choose to release it unrated.

  • 4 7-22-2009 at 11:13 am

    /3rtfu11 said...

    Art house fare with limited appear outside of the prospective audience – is easy to take down if you’re a journalist – you ignore it. A lot of unpleasant films (usually their subject matter) not their on screen content – go without notice into oblivion because journalists make the effort to ignore them. I never knew about Terry Gilliam’s “Tideland” until the DVD release.

  • 5 7-22-2009 at 11:52 am

    red_wine said...

    “broad-minded arts critic, strongly libertarian in tendency”
    He seems like a monk or priest from the 18th century.

  • 6 7-22-2009 at 10:14 pm

    Glenn said...

    That piece really is a disgrace, isn’t it? Wow.

    As somebody from a country who has had films banned due to fundamentalist “family” groups (“Baise-Moi”, “Ken Park” and they nearly got “Mysterious Skin” banned!) I am seeing “Antichrist” at the upcoming Melbourne International Film Festival because I have no doubt somebody out there will cry foul over it and demand it be banned or edited.

  • 7 7-23-2009 at 3:35 am

    slayton said...

    I’m seeing this a week from Sunday at the NZFF. I’m impossibly excited (I’m seeing The White Ribbon two days before at the same festival!). I really hope it doesn’t get banned before it goes to DVD here – which is what happened to both ‘Ken Park’ and ‘Baise-Moi’. Bannings and forced cuts of films are on the same level as book burnings and neither should be enforced or tolerated by any government. You wouldn’t burn an original Bacon painting or destroy the negatives of a Witkin photograph, would you?

  • 8 7-23-2009 at 4:06 am

    Glenn said...

    Slayton, I’m seeing “Antichrist” at MIFF and then “White Ribbon” the next day. Crazy stuff, huh? I wasn’t aware those movies were banned in NZ too. “Baise-Moi” was released for a few weeks (and made huge box office) before being banned and “Ken Park” never even got its foot in the door. Such a deplorable act and far more anti-social than they think the movies are.