Savage Pastimes: A Cultural History of Violent Entertainment Hardcover – Bargain Price, March 1, 2005
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
- Hardcover : 208 pages
- Item Weight : 12.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 8.56 x 5.82 x 0.8 inches
- ASIN : B000VYVLJY
- Publisher : St. Martin's Press (March 1, 2005)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,606,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Reviews history back to the Romans about the love of violence as entertainment for regular people.
We now have vivid, violent, blood spattered entertainment - in games, on screen. Our fore-fathers and mothers had actual people this was done to.
So is it evil or does it actually help our kids by letting them dispel fears and anger via fantasy and fun? Read Schechter's intelligent study and decide for yourself.
Schechter also points out to great and feeling effect, the essential need of violence in human history/experience. As civilization evolves, violence has become fictionalized, taking the place of brutality that we recognize we are better without. But the visceral and primal lusts of humanity bear respect, and entertainment has proven the vehicle for their experience.
While graphic (and interesting) in depiction, explanation and representation of past entertainments; penny dreadfuls, public executions, public displays of body parts, pulp/dime novels, western-themed t.v. shows, etc., Schechter counters their substance with little to no modern examples, other than mention of video games such as Resident Evil and movies like The Matrix. Now that may be efficient to a point, these games and movies being incredibly popular, their substance may not be necessary to express. But his point in made. I tend to agree more then not, and think the book succeeds.
I also found his scholastic refutation of common ideology appealing because his is a calming voice, one that cuts through the politicized subject of entertainment.
On t.v. Davy Crockett used a flintlock rifle he called Old Betsy and wore a coon skin hat. 'The Ballad of Davy Crockett' spent six months at the top of the 'Hit Parade' and I sang it on a local talent show. Little boys loved to play cowboys. There is a picture of a real one completely outfitted on the cover with his trusty gun. For some reason, my sons weren't into the violence thing.
There are pictures intermingled throughout this book to demonstrate the text, not in a separate photo section. There is a diagram of 'Tortures of Medieval Times.' One of the most remarkable examples appeared in the 1933 Chicago World's Fair. From May 27 to November 1, on 424 acres along Lake Michigan, (a friend of mine, Virginia Barnes, from a small town in Middle Tennessee, attended this gala exposition.) "A Century of Progress" contained an exhibit called 'The Torture Chamber' with a souvenir booklet. This was touted as a modern marvel of mechancial engineering, complete with sound effects. Located near a Freak show and a Midget Village of sixty small entertainers, it showed the debased state of contemporary American culture. It also showed progress from real torture as entertainment to counterfeit cruelty on motorized dummies.
In the Middle Ages, daily life was steeped in grotesque forms of violence, public executions and animal torture. Church paintings and stained glass windows showed martyred saints in gory detail. There were 'miracle plays' about the apostles and mutilated Jews -- and religious drama about the 'Slaughter of the Innocents' showing infanticide to eliminate the Christ Child. Scenes of baby slaughter and torture of women (St. Barbara) were subjects of religious plays. They used illusion to portray the vivid torture.
Even Shakespeare's dramas were full of murder and mayhem, like 'Macbeth,' and 'King Lear,' called "revenge tragedy." 'The Punch and Judy' shows in the 1800s showed family violence with corrupt political, social, and religious overtones.
One of my favorites, Poe, used violence and morbidity in most of his tales. He was the master, slightly deranged. Even the 'Crockett Almanac of 1839' showed illustrations graphic in their brutality to accompany tales written in a backwoods dialect.
Harold Schechter has written four books about serial killers, THE HUM-BUG, THE BOSOM SERPENT:FOLKLORE AND POPULAR ART, among many others.
Top reviews from other countries
There are many gruesome but illuminating illustrations and it is a coherent in-depth study of popular culture - esp. in the ways it appeals to young men - through the ages.