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Sensationalism in American Film Sensationalism in American Film

When I think of the horrible movies I watched in the Seventies I am appalled. Somehow I missed out on all these amazing films I am watching today in this film class. I’d like to blame it on my parents but they never stopped me from seeing Jaws, The Fury, Carrie, Willard, and the absolute worst – Alive! (which was about a giant killer baby!).

In middle school and high school we weren’t much interested in '‘serious'’ films. Still, I did manage to see American Gigolo (my black sheep of the family aunt took me to see it at the drive-through) and my parents dragged me to All the President’s Men, where I whined the whole time. Admittedly, I was able to actually sit through these films instead of covering my eyes for ¾ of the film. I walked out of Jaws because it freaked me out so much. That should have told me something. But one had to be cool, right?

Our middle class youth culture had no interest in politics or social issues – we were after titillation and hair-raising horror. My friends and I were appalled by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – it was probably the first time we left a movie silent, all of us deep in thought. Today our kids don’t have to wait in long lines to see a killer baby bite the head off the milkman – they can flick on the television or the internet and escape into whatever world they want.

The film fare available today has reached epic proportions of sensationalism and this bothers me greatly. I stay away from most of this fluff now – I’d rather read a book and wait for the once a year film that makes me leave the theater silent.

May 2004

K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2004, 2006

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