Oliver Kenny presents ‘It’s Not Just a Game: Ethics and Politics in the Saw Franchise’

Monday 17th March, 5:30pm, Hitchcock Cinema (Arts One, G19).

This paper will examine the highly successful and controversial horror series, Saw (2004-10), exploring potential reasons for its phenomenal success and probing its underlying ethical message. It will move beyond the common focus on the episodes of violence contextualising such violence within the films overall ethical and political perspectives. This will also mean critiquing current socio-political and socio-moral readings of the film which seek to align Saw and other ‘torture porn’ films with a post-9/11 mentality and criticisms of torture. Drawing together the narrative structure of the entire series, the moralising rhetoric of its protagonist and the cinematographic presentation of violence, I will suggest that the appeal of this series can best be understood by comparing it to American neoconservative political and social thinking. Ultimately I wish to highlight the series as highly retrogressive, opposing the suggestion that the graphic presentation of violence is a sign of an ever more liberal age.  ​

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