One of the virtues that film shares with literature is that it offers us a means of rehearsing scenarios that go to the heart of our sense of right and wrong. Or to put that another way, if, as Fredric Jameson asserted, our contemporary mode of cultural and literary criticism remains ethical – in spite of heroic attempts to wean us from it – our tendency will be to respond to films and books in terms of our ideas about how to be in the world. When a film confronts us with acts that have a status of extremity and horror, it is hardly surprising that the audience or the book’s readers will be disturbed, or puzzled, or, in some cases, absolutely certain about how to take what has been seen or read.
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