Been a while since I've done a post on the blog that isn't simply a film review, but when Ronan Wright of the brilliant Filmplicity gives you a bell and asks to participate in the big question of the week, you damn sure take notice. So, in my own opinion, do film makers have a moral responsibility to its audience? Not one bit...
Something I've stressed when reviewing the odd horror movie is I feel we live in a time where very little really shocks a viewer anymore, the days of something like A Clockwork Orange getting banned are simply non-existent. Films which are getting hard 12A ratings may have easily received a 15 about 20 years ago. Tim Burton's Batman sits on my DVD shelf with a 15 rating, yet Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight sits there with a 12. Why? Because seeing Batman take on The Joker does little to shock people, it's a blockbuster extravaganza. However, I digress...
Like any artist, musician, author or, indeed film director there should always be this constant need deep down beneath the surface to challenge its audiences' perception, to broaden their mind to the bigger world out there. Obviously it all sounds quite idealistic, and I'm sure publishers, film studios, record labels and art dealers might have something to say about all this, but I don't think the creative community has ever been better placed in the past few decades, in an age where digital distribution is so readily available and accessible, to do such a thing.
Objectively one could rightly argue modern mainstream audiences simply don't want to be challenged, they know what they like, and if seeing The Hangover 1.5 is your cup of tea, there's nothing wrong with that. Films like books, TV, music and art should also be there as a source of pure enjoyment and entertainment. I personally wouldn't go making people see Lars Von Trier's Antichrist just because it's different from nearly everything else they're likely to find in the cinema. So is The Human Centipede but even I ain't touching that tripe.
Thankfully though with the likes of Black Swan and Inception - both gaining coveted full marks from this blog I may add - starting to appear in the multiplexes film studios are starting to take a chance on slightly more left-field projects, and all the better for it I say.
I don't actually know where I'm properly going with this piece, but in a time where violence, sex, drugs, horror are all common place on TV as well as on the big screen, no I don't think film makers have a moral obligation to the audience. The audience are never forced to watch any film in the cinema, it's their right to choose what they subject themselves too, however if you're a parent it is your moral obligation to filter what your child should see at the appropriate time. Bare in mind my dad had no issue letting me watch Aliens when I was 11 years old, yes I concede I had nightmares for a week or two after that experience, but hey even Labyrinth and Ghostbusters 2 freaked me out when I was a kid and they were both rated PG.
Though directors have no moral obligation to their audiences, they do have an obligation to entertain, to provoke, to inspire the audiences' imagination. That's the true power of cinema for me. Moments where you sit in front of the big screen and witness scenes which will stay with you for the rest of your life. That moment where you believe a man can fly in Superman, that moment where you see the first dinosaur in Jurassic Park, that moment when those opening credits of Star Wars kick into life, that moment where The Joker is revealed in The Dark Knight, that moment where a Beauty and a Beast dance in a majestic ballroom.
Film makers don't owe it to you to ever play it safe with the content of their films, but they do owe it to themselves and to you to test their talents to the limits and present timeless moments which will stay with you for life - for better or worse.