“Untraceable” and Violence Voyeurism


What is it about mankind which compels us to find entertainment in calamity and destruction?

We pass by the roses without so much as a sniff, yet I have been programmed from childhood (thank you, Bob Saget & America’s Funniest Home Videos) that accidents — very painful accidents — are hilarious and good to watch.

As I grew up, such programs continued, pushing the bar ever higher… World’s Most Dangerous This. World’s Deadliest That.

Destruction. Pain. Violence. All in the name of entertainment.

What’s frightening about this is that entertainment is found not only in scripted material, but in actual pain, actual injury… actual death. If anyone wants to challenge the biblical truth that mankind is depraved, our inability to not stair at a train wreck (to borrow the popular example) is fairly convincing evidence.

That aspect of humanity is integral to the movie Untraceable, starring Diane Lane.

As a matter of fact, the movie caters to that aspect on several occasions, and it is there that the movie suffers greatly: While the antagonist, Owen Reilly (played by Joseph Cross), desperately tries to make a point about the evils of voyeurism, all the while relying upon voyeurs to make his point.

The lesson is made that violence and death should not become viral videos to be watched and enjoyed by countless millions, yet that very lesson is made by a movie with extremely graphic gore which … has been seen by millions of viewers.

If Untraceable managed to make a point about voyeurism without simultaneously being hypocritical about it, it would have been a much better movie. In reality, it is a cheap thrill: a generally fast-paced movie composed of a bit of suspense, generally enjoyable acting / casting (it’s becoming increasingly nicer to view a film composed of actors that I haven’t seen a hundred times before), a healthy dose of geek-speak, and yes, fairly good visual effects. Though its too bad those effects were used to pull the film down, morally speaking.

As a closing aside, I’d love to know how Untraceable‘s Owen Reilly’s “killwithme.com” website was able to support millions of viewers watching live video while the IP address of the site rotated every few seconds or minutes. The bandwidth requirements would be obscene, like a slashdotting on steroids!

Which brings me back to what I was saying about human nature, but let me preface this by saying I know that not everyone can stomach the levels of violence enjoyed by others; indeed, while they may enjoy (for example) The Terminator, they’ll have no desire whatsoever to watch (again, for example) Hostel 2. If there’s one thing Untraceable did well, it is to make me think: why do I find gory cinema entertaining? Why can I watch real violence or injury in viral videos without so much as a second thought?

Am I exemplifying the Kingdom of God? Am I living as though I recognize the Prince of Peace as my Sovereign? Are my thoughts continually — regardless of what I’m watching — of things good, honorable, and pure? Am I taking in through my eyes and ears those things which are conducive to holy living?

Or am I opening my mind up to be filled by the putridity of this age?

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