With the release of Eli Roth's Hostel II this upcoming weekend, the familiar "torture porn" argument has once again reared its ugly head. I've already engaged in three different conversations on the subject at three separate blogs (as well as reading one rather scathing review of Roth's movie): Reel Fanatic relays some interesting words by Joss Whedon on the topic, Moviezz expresses his woe about that specific sub-genre, Bleeding Tree's Neil Sarver is wrestling with what to make of it all (specifically with regard to Hostel II) and Dave Poland's attack of the film can be found over at The Hot Button.
I've already expressed my own personal thoughts on the matter, so I don't feel the need to go into it again. I do, however, want to briefly mention something that I think is very important for this ongoing discussion. In the course of disagreeing with a person's ideas/attitudes toward a particular film (or type of film) it's very easy to allow that to infiltrate one's attitude toward the person. This is a distinction that I always try to keep in mind for myself because I am only too aware of what it feels like to be personally condemned by others for liking a certain film (or kind of film). I may find "torture porn" to be immoral and unhealthy but as I express my disdain for it I want folks to remember that I am not standing in judgement of those who do find some sort of redeeming value in those films. I might think that these individuals are wrong (or at the very least mistaken) but it's difficult enough for all of us to co-exist together (let alone have any kind of meaningful communication) without us all looking down on one another. Granted, we can evaluate the ethical/moral value of a person's actions/ideas but it is not our place to judge the person themselves. It may be true (and I doubt anyone will deny this) that there are some rather sick and twisted individuals out there who do indeed "get off" on the kind of sadistic, explicitly violent images depicted in some movies, but I am not prepared, at this point anyway, to "write off" anyone and everyone willing to defend those movies as being this exact kind of person.
So, I just want to remind everyone (myself included) that as we continue to debate this subject, let us try to show respect and be civil towards one another, avoiding generalizations and name calling. Not everyone who likes the Hostel movies is necessarily a "desensetized, disturbed, perverted sicko who just enjoys images of rape and torture for their own twisted pleasure" and not everyone who dislikes the Hostel movies is necessarily a "hyper-religious, fundamentalist right-wing nutcase trying to force their values on others and spoil everybody's fun."