In his book, More Than a Movie: Ethics in Entertainment, F. Miguel Valenti examines nine “hot buttons” of violence – “creative elements that filmmakers use to manipulate viewers’ reactions to onscreen violence.” (99) These elements, posited by researchers conducting The National Television Violence Study (Valenti, 99) are “choice of perpetrator, choice of victim, presence of consequences, rewards and punishments, the reason for the violence, weapons, realism, use of humor, and prolonged exposure” (Valenti, 100) . Raiders of the Lost Ark is a violent, yet well loved film which would be interesting to examine in this light. In Raiders, the choice of perpetrator is our hero, Indiana Jones. We do not think of him as “a perpetrator”, he is “the good guy”, yet he is shown bringing about the demise of many people. Victims of violence can be portrayed as likeable, in which case the effect on the audience is to “increase fear and anxiety. If violence can happen to someone *like* me, it can also happen *to* me, they reason” (Valenti, 101), however, if “the victim is dissimilar to the viewer and NOT likable, the viewer can more easily either rationalize the violence or dismiss it because in some way the victim ‘got what he deserved’” (Valenti, 102). The victims in Raiders are Nazis, not “everyday Joes”, their characters are not individualized, or if they are, they are over-the-top evil, like Arnold Ernst Toht the sadistic and ruthless Nazi Gestapo agent (Raiders). Raiders is chockfull of weapons – knives, machetes, submachine guns, and firearms of all sorts. “Weapons – in most cases firearms of one sort or another – can trigger aggressive feelings in viewers and cause them to interpret a seemingly neutral situation as potentially threatening” (Valenti, 104). This is knowledge Steven Spielberg puts to good use in the scene in Raiders where a Nazi approaches the bound Marion ominously with a vile looking weapon in hand,...
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Valenti, F. M. (2000). More Than a Movie. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Print.
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