The Cinema of Evil
Philosopher Georges Bataille once posited that the real nature of evil — the implicit guilt of literature — could be discovered in a unique, dark canon of books that investigate the actual terror of the human condition: “We are overwhelmed by Kafka’s honesty, which abrogates no rights for itself. Whatever the lesson contained in Genet’s books, Sartre’s defence is inadmissible,” Bataille writes. His pantheon of evil covered not so much the atrocities of war or the ongoing machinations of violence, but instead provided cold insights about the indifference of cruelty.
Although horror films have garnered academic investigation for decades, there’s a difference between a campy slasher film and real explorations of sadism, crime, and entropy. If one were to posit a cinema of evil as its own distinct genre, what would it look like? What is the visual language of evil? How do our fantasies of evil become interpolated into a cinematic language and what are the themes and motifs of this proposed genre? Perhaps the cinema of evil, as Foucault suggested of transgression, is a bolt of lightning that through its violence shines a light on the limits of both society and our minds.
Teacher: Eric Shorey
Eric Shorey is a freelance pop culture blogger whose work has appeared in Nylon, Vice, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and MTV. He covers a wide range of topics including LGBTQ+ culture, horror, hip-hop, true crime, fashion, style, music, and sports. He received his MA in Liberal Studies from The New School for Social Research in 2010.
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