As I sit here working on my novel (up to about 16K words, after I had to re-write a section), I have the original Conan the Barbarian on in the background. It’s a pretty decent flick, for a no-brainer. Anyway, there’s some blood and gore that – by modern standards – isn’t all that bad. But I understand when the movie came out, it held some kind of record for the amount of fake blood used. (I think the current record holder is the new Piranha movie, which I saw – but later on that.) There’s lots of death and destruction and if nothing else, the score was probably my favorite for any fantasy movie before the LOTR trilogy.
Last time, I talked about sex, and how much was too much in writing. Well, what about violence? What about when the body parts go flying? I spent a few years living in Europe and I found something odd. While the Europeans were pretty much indifferent to sex and nudity (at least one channel in Germany had hard-core porn on late at night), there seemed to be a societal vibe against casual violence – of the kind that is on American prime time daily … hell, maybe on American cartoons daily.
I think that is an odd kind of disconnect. American critics say the European debauchery is a bad example for the children, while the European critics point to the over-violent American entertainment industry as a casual factor for societal violence in America. They’re all wet. Both sets of critics ignore the fact that sex and violence are both facts of life and have been for all human history.
It would depend on my target audience but I would find it hard to write a realistic speculative fiction story devoid of both elements. Targeted for kids, it might work. For adults? I think they would get bored and walk away. I don’t think that’s just salaciousness; I think there is a primal instinct in all of us to tune into those facts of life. What are our primary biological imperatives? Well, to eat is probably the first. Right after that is procuring a mate. And if someone challenges your plan to get either one? Well, a rock to the head gets the message across.
Sex sells. If it bleeds, it leads. Sex and violence make the entertainment industry go ’round, so I should keep putting them in the stories, right? I’m gonna. A story should about more than sex or torture but if it fits the tale – I’m in. Find me the last fiction work written for the adult world, without either one. I give it ten pages before I start yawning – ’cause, like the rest of yous, I’m not a fallen angel … just a risen ape. And Koko wants her sex and violence.
Okay, the movie is up to the climactic battle scene. Gotta go.