Monday, March 18, 2013

Ignore or Fight?

Back in the seventies, I was working in New York for a magazine, and in connection with an article, I had to go and talk to a guy named Alan Shackleton, who was a sleazy exploitation film producer.

At this time, there was a lot of press being given to rumors about a  "snuff film" made in South America, a porn film that ended with an actual murder on camera. Shackleton, when I got to his office, was making plans to capitalize on the rumors. He had a cheap slasher movie, and he had quickly added a new ending to it involving a fake killing of the lead actress, or someone who he hoped looked enough like her, since the original movie had been shot several years earlier. When I walked in, they were all sort of in a panic. The film was so tame, in addition to being so lame, that the film review board was giving it an R rating. So they were scurrying around to find a piece of film from a porno movie that could be shoehorned in somewhere.

Apparently they succeeded, because the film opened a few days later with an X rating, the title of "Snuff," and the tagline "Filmed in South America...where life is cheap."

But meanwhile, when I got home that night, my girlfriend was making plans with a women's group to picket the theater when the movie opened.

"Oh, God, no," I said."Don't do that. Being picketed is this guy's only hope of making a profit on this movie. It's so awful no one will go to see it after the first day, but if the protest makes the TV news, that's box office gold for them."

But she and her group would not be dissuaded, and they did picket, and the film did make some money for Shackleton.

So I was right.

Maybe. You're really never wrong to stand up against the truly awful in society. I still think I was right...sometimes you're just playing into the bastards' hands. But maybe the bigger picture is it's not OK, and you always have to say it's not OK when it's not.

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