Natural Born Killers Essay, Research Paper
Adam Kolkowski T205 April 23, 1999 Tim “Natural Born Killers”It is often discussed about the moral nature of our society. Is violence in movies too much? Are people affected by what they view? One such film, “Natural Born Killers” by Oliver Stone, is an engaging film that serves as a social commentary for society as we know it. By purposely making the movie as offensive as possible, Oliver Stone not only delivers the point that the characters are amoral, but that the media can also play a part in creating the exact monsters that they report on. By playing to our emotions, such as the four dimensions of media literacy, this film stands too not to entertain, but as a cultural icon, something to represent our present culture, however disturbing. With the television on wherever they go, Mickey and Mallory go on a killing spree that ends with 52 dead. Set in a nightmarish American landscape of coffee shops and hotels, the modern Bonnie and Clyde brutally murder people for the seeming fun of it. Spurned by a dysfunctional family and their television saturated minds, Mickey and Mallory almost seem to enjoy the pain and suffering that they inflict. By using sensory overload of color, black and white, and cartoon like sequences, we see how mixed up and out of touch with reality Mickey and Mallory really are. They view their murders and mayhem as an almost surrogate to the love they feel for each other. Using snake imagery as a sign of evil throughout the movie and intertwined with warped television images, Oliver graphically drives the message home that violence in the media can and does have an affect on people who aren’t stable to begin with. To say that anyone who views violence on television will commit murder is wrong, but viewed by someone who is already mentally incapacitated, television can have a warped effect. Not only does Stone use sensory overload on the viewer, but he also uses quick editing and music to set the tone for his social commentary. Unlike most movies where the point is to observe, this movie causes one to think and absorb the message. While it may appear to be too violent and sick for some, it is also the purpose that Stone had. By doing this, Stone’s message seems to be that media’s glorification of violence has Ping-Pong like effect on society. As society views violent content, they too become violent, thus the media reports on it. Then that report affects someone else and eventually the two play off of each other in a ping pong like effect.While causing you to think, this movie also allows for your emotions to take over. Instead of using typical violent scenes which viewers are used to because of desensitization, Stone goes over the top to shock the viewer. His use of Rodney Dangerfield as the abusive molester father in a sitcom like situation is so thoroughly sick, that it shocks the viewer into the thought that yes, fathers do molest their daughters and yes, people’s families really are like this. By sensationalizing the actions of Mickey and Mallory, Stone invokes a sense of awe as he makes these ruthless killers heroes. The people they killed apparently didn’t mean anything and the actions of our “heroes” is glorified. This and the television element of “American Psychos” inside the film itself, allows for further emotions to be evoked. As the viewer is appalled at the movie itself with its offensive images, the viewer is shown the world of “Natural Born Killers” as seen through the eyes of a national television show. This show glorifies Mickey and Mallory, further invoking emotions in the viewer such as anger and distrust of the media and fear of what lies ahead. As the emotional side takes effect, the moral value of the movie comes into play. The moral issue with Mickey and Mallory is that they have no morals. They may have love for each other, but they feel no pain for anyone they hurt except the Indian who helps them and nurses them back to health after a rattlesnake bites Mickey. Now right after this, they are captured. Is this because of the fact that they killed the only person that helped them in life? It may be that Stone wanted to portray Mickey and Mallory as above the law until they killed the one nice person that helped them. It seems to be “the last straw” and they are finally caught and punished for their actions. Yes by being products of society, the tabloid show with Wayne Gayle comes into the prison to interview Mickey. Is this morally right for the television show to glorify such behavior? Obviously, Stone wants to drill home the message that morals and society have a direct influence on each other. When the people are shown cheering on Mickey and Mallory, it can only be said that in any society by Stone’s, they would be looked at as murderers. While most director’s walk around the issue, Stone delivers intensely graphic and over the top portrayals of characters and leaves the viewer to decipher the rest. What is right and wrong? What created these monsters? It seems that the only time Mickey and Mallory are punished for their crime is when they actually do something to someone who doesn’t deserve it in the case of the Indian. It is almost as if everyone else deserved what they got and it was “ok” for Mickey and Mallory to kill them. Which adds to the issue of them being popular and the so called “good guys”. Usually society’s attention is centered on heroes, yet Stone chooses to portray the evil characters as heroes. People look up to them and emulate them. Stone is trying to show how society can glorify things that aren’t acceptable on other terms, like murder, yet frown upon normally good things, like law enforcement and rules.
Stone not only has moral and emotional messages in his movie, but he delivers them with ease in his stylistically different movie format. Using black and white at random intervals as well as some cartoon sequences, Stone allows for a break in the continuation in the movie, almost a mark for the viewer to pay attention. Although the movie is extremely well done with it’s mise en scene, the rapid editing style that Stone uses, meant to show how fast paced our society is, really doesn’t let the eye focus, allowing the viewer to get confused easy. Yet the message and style of the film are all retained. The set where Mallory and her family interact is in the style of a 70’s sitcom, using cheap sets and horrible clothing. The film is very vast and leaves the viewer with a sense of how large the world they live in is. Yet the fakeness of their lives is shown as well. When Mickey and Mallory are out in the dessert, the shooting stars and the sky all look incredibly fake, as do the scenes where it looks like their car is driving through various old television shows. While people feel that this film is horrible and too violent for human consumption, it does provide a good example of a movie that sets out to say something about how society interacts with itself and the media. However violent it may be, the violence is there for a reason. It is in your face and you can’t ignore it. While some may blame this film for certain deeds that some do (Colorado shooting) it isn’t an excuse that should be heard. Millions of people have seen this movie and have not been moved to violence. It merely provides an outlet for some people to vent their anger. People are not products of the media, they are products of what is around them, constantly absorbing. Oliver Stone made an epic movie that portrays the violence that is prevalent in our society today. The media, while they can’t be blamed, sometimes do have effects on people that can’t be seen as good. In doing so, Stone set out to make a movie that glorified violence. In doing so he not only accomplished his goal, but he made a statement about society and it’s moral standing.