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"I've never murdered anyone in my life. The decisions are up to them.": Ethical Guidance and Cultural Pessimism in the Saw Series

Walliss, John; Aston, James

Authors

John Walliss

Dr James Aston J.Aston@hull.ac.uk
Lecturer/ Programme Director for Film Studies

Abstract

In this article we examine the ethical vision presented in the Saw series of films, focusing in particular how it represents a trend within popular culture post-9/11 towards increasing cultural pessimism. We will locate the Saw films within this cultural trajectory, primarily focusing on the ‘games' and the use of torture and how these rituals disturb a clear moral and ethical vision as the franchise moves unsteadily between conservative and liberal ideologies. Human beings, the films show, are riddled with vice and invariably cannot, even when put in a life or death situation, develop the self-awareness to overcome them. Indeed, humans have become so debased and disconnected from life those liberal, progressive attempts to help them and legal attempts to sanction them are doomed to failure. In the end, the only way in which they can be ‘saved', and social order be protected, is through vigilantism and a never-ending cycle of torture.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2012
Journal Journal of Religion and Popular Culture
Print ISSN 1703-289X
Publisher University of Toronto Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 24
Issue 3
Pages 352-364
Institution Citation Walliss, J., & Aston, J. (2012). "I've never murdered anyone in my life. The decisions are up to them.": Ethical Guidance and Cultural Pessimism in the Saw Series. Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, 24(3), 352-364. doi:10.1353/rpc.2012.0034
DOI https://doi.org/10.1353/rpc.2012.0034
Publisher URL http://muse.jhu.edu/article/493957
Additional Information No Hull access, 21/1/16