We just finished watching the third season of Game of Thrones on DVD this past weekend. Before that, we watched The White Queen, another DVD series (one season only, although it deserved more).
As we watched both, I found myself wondering why directors and producers felt the need to insert gratuitous – but apparently obligatory – explicit scenes of sex and violence that really had little to do with either plot or character development.
The same questions arose when I watched Deadwood, The Sopranos, First Blood and Boardwalk Empire. Personally, I found these explicit bits distracting, like commercials, because they drew attention away from the story and characters.
I had a notion that the writers ran out of ideas at these points and instead threw in a bit of sex or violence, hoping the audience wouldn’t notice the paucity of the writing.
Why do both need to be so graphic? Can’t the same effect be accomplished by suggestion, by clever camera indirection? Do we need spurting blood and genital closeups to make a scene seem real or effective? Can’t a good director or cinematographer convey these emotions through suggestion, shadow and impression?
Do we need to have full-frontal nudity to convey a sense of the erotic? Or has pornography dulled our senses to the point where anything less doesn’t capture our attention? Why do we need sex and violence instead of story? Because we, collectively, haven’t got the attention span of gnats and our emotions are reduced to biological urges?
Or is it a generational thing? Am I just being old fashioned and curmudgeonly? Maybe, but I’ll keep my reserve, thank you.