Sexuality and death in The Wicker Man (1973)
The Wicker Man is one of the amazing British horror films featuring a character by the name Sergeant Howie, who goes to a foreign island in search of a missing girl. The movie is by the Robin Hardy. It is one of the cult movies known in the film history. The movie is horror in the final ten minutes of the movie. Howie, who is a Christian, finds himself in a cult, filled island, where they worship fertility gods in public; they even copulate evenly in the field. Sacrifice is the key element of the horror movie and narratives. Blood sacrifice in this horror movie is about appeasing gods. The movie somehow explores the fear of sexual revolution in the west. Women have the freedom to choose the sex partners and explore their sexuality with no restriction by men. The lord of the island has the authority and control the whole village. There are the strong cult and phallic symbols. The male or female in the act may be a captive just like the Sergeant Howie in the movie, or he or she can go willingly. Despite their popularity聲望, The Wicker Man portrays a clear part to the dark side of love in the cinema. They project certain forms of sex and gender roles on the stage. These performances become free to try and somehow act them. Some of them resemble porn movie. In the scenes I will mentioned below, we can see the implications of active and passive rotation of female and male subject positions. (Williams 217). In this movie, we can see the connection between pain and sexual pleasure both fused to death. Also, sexual desires get illuminated in the presence of the ghost after the death. As Williams says, “power and pleasure are connected to sexual relations” (Williams 217-218). That’s why I research The Wicker Man, because of it highly integrate sexuality and death.
History of horror films
Euro-horror movies emerged around the 1960s and the 1980s. They emerged from Europe continent in the quite amazing figure. Euro horror movies bring about sadomasochism虐戀 into horror connected to sex and violence. These backgrounds eroticize性愛 and show the violent overpowering of women at the man’s hands. This portrays the relationship between power and pleasure.” Euro horror movies, sadomasochistic part violence seems to be like a ritualized game where the role players portray both dominance and submission支配與服從roles”. (Linda Williams 18). This pleasure快樂 may even get given out of self-sacrifice (Ross 272). They take different forms that may include Nazi納粹 sexploitation, kinky糾纏的 gothic melodrama, women in prison picture, Marquis de Sade and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch work and the ‘nunsploitation’. These movies are interested in the story of the Sadden figure. One of the genders either male or female forces someone or a multitude多數的 of people to involve themselves in his or her violent but sexual actions.
Sergeant Howie found islanders copulating交配everywhere. He is totally astonished when he arrives on the island. To him, sexuality in this island was terrifying. They don’t mind the viewers whether children or adults. In a certain scene, a young woman is shown with breasts in a clear view sitting crying against a gravestone墓碑. The woman is holding the egg with her outstretched伸出的hand. The islander’s sex freedom makes them not perfect for the sacrifice. By analyzing their sexual behavior, it is rare to find a virgin who can get sacrificed. Another scene we see right from Willows divine whore神聖的妓女, initiating virgin boys into manhood成年. Another scene in a classroom a group of students (girls) are learning about the generative生成的force of the penis. They should be learning algebra代數instead. When asked about the symbolism of the maypole五月柱dance occurring outside the window, one girl raises her hand and answers calling out the “phallic symbol性器的象徵.” From all these scenes, it’s clear that to find a virgin in the village is hard. Men, women, boys and girls sexuality behavior gets seen as a way to evade the sacrifice逃避犧牲. The sacrifice requires a virgin, but these islanders copulate everywhere to make evidence they are not virgins. Teachers in school are also seen teaching students about sex instead of algebra. The fusion of sexuality in the scene is negative. The villagers are running away from the sacrifice by copulating everywhere.
Willows (Britt Ekland) goes willingly to seduce the famous Sergeant Howie into sexual desires. Willows is the village whore and men regard to her as sex plaything玩物. This occurs in the scene where Willows offers herself to Howie. Howie tries to go to bed. Willows serenade小夜曲him. She is doing this from the next room, banging on the wall (violence). Using carnal directness肉體的直接, she offers herself to Howie. She performs a salacious猥褻nude dance. Her breasts are shown in a medium close up shot. Additionally there is full view of her back. These are sexual provoking lyrics發人深省的歌詞. She tries to lure Howie into her bed. Willow is a “sexual plaything” as the entire village men regarded to her. The wall slapping拍擊 and the dance occur one hour after Howie entering the inn. The angle of the camera here makes Willows back view more erotic. She does all these to arouse the Seargent Howie. Howie to him this is temptations誘惑. Howie is good Christian, who stands firmly for his faith and religion. He seems confused by the sexual ways of the islanders. To him, this is all evil ways. All the efforts of Willows to lure Howie to bed become futile無用. Despite Howie’s temptations, he resists. This refusal targets him for sacrifice. Howie becomes a perfect match for human sacrifice. The Islanders requires a virgin for the sacrifice to appease their gods to optimize優化their harvests. From these scene acts, we clearly see the fusion of sexuality to death. The refusal of sex marks Howie a perfect human sacrifice.
The Islanders, apparently young naked women are seen dancing and jumping through the fire. Women who are jumping over the bonfires篝火hope to get pregnant by pathogenesis發病. These naked women go round the fire singing and dancing happily. A pregnant woman is supervising監管these nude women as they sing. The pregnant woman is wearing a white gown. When the fire gets started, the naked teenagers make a turn over the fire. The making of the turns gets followed by chanting吟誦. The chanting is about baby making. Howie is not happy because of this leap fire ritual飛躍火儀式. For this leap to work, the women have to be virgins. The fusion of sexuality and death on this scene is positive. For the leap to work, women are supposed to be virgins. These women are said to be impregnated by the gods according to Lord Summerisle.
Upon viewing the analysis fusion of sexuality with death, it’s clear that the pagan communities of the west increase the death rate of people through these sacrifices, the highest number of these deaths being of women. The movie is used to stop these cult behaviors.
Effects of the fusion
The fusions of sex and death have had some connections, especially in European art. Most of the times it is considered a taboo topic in many cultures, and it is also a controversial subject in almost all the school curriculums. The continual mentioning of the two subjects can have effects on the values of young adults. Related to taboo, it can lead to obsession and eroticisms. A famous scholar argued that death and sexuality are fused because the mere instincts of death trigger sexual activities. A major influence on the growth of a child sexual behavior takes place during the period of emotional development. Presentation of death, violence and sexual behavior in the media has a wide influence on a child’s life and development.
Horror movies can have both short-term as well as long-term effects on individuals in the community and also the society in general. Short term effects include effects such as the following:
Priming-this is a situation where the human mind tends to act according to the ideas get activated in association with the stimuli. The stimuli can get observed, for example the stimuli like in the case of horror movies. This association impacts the emotions and ideas in an individual’s memory. For example in the movie; The Wicker Man, the residents of the Hebridean Island practice fertility rituals in public that involves copulating in the fields. There is also this scene in the movie where Howie at the Green Man Inn gets seduced by the landlord’s daughter, Willow. She tries to seduce him into having premarital sex with her, but he refuses.
A close look at the theme brought out by this scene may encourage young adults to engage in sex-related activities at an early age even when they are no married. According to scientists, the external sources can be intrinsically linked to cognition. This repeated exposure to sex and death in horror movies can bias an individual’s way of thinking, behavior, and feeling in a certain particular way relating to the content they see. For example, men may be primed to see women as sexual objects according to the exposure they get.
Imitation-imitation refers to the immediate mimicry of certain observed behaviors. Human beings especially the young adults have the tendency of imitating what they see in movies. Many studies have shown that children mimic the behaviors of some of the characters they see in films. Considering the frequent sexuality and death themes in most horror movies, and then the children and young adults are in danger.
Most horror movies fuse the idea of sexuality and death. It has become a major area of study to many scholars. Horror films mostly portray women sexuality as bad. Most of these horror movies according to many scholars have shown that once a woman behaves in a lustful way, at the end she will be killed. To the society, this fusion of sexuality and death can have dire consequences; women get mostly degraded in these films. Female characters mostly get shown as powerless mostly they are faced with rape, murder, and or mutilation (Wynter 156).
In most of the horror movies, when a couple engages in sex, well that means they are doomed. Horror movies fusion of sexuality with violence or death can lead to increased cases of sexual violence in real life. The effects are different on the side of men as compared to that of women. For instance, if a man watches a movie showing women responding positively to rape, then it will not come as a surprise to find the same man believing that women, in general, want to get forced into sexual activities.
Mostly, men are praised for their sexual prowess in horror movies, but women mostly get punished and mostly it leads to death. Research on horror movies show that those survivors who make it at the end of the film are mostly those that did not engage in sexual activities. The Wicker Man tends to have a different theme, Howard, who was a staunch Christian and even refused the advances of the landlords daughter ends up being sacrificed by the local population (Edmondson 56).
According to a research study conducted by two researchers namely; Donnerstein and Linz shows that continuous exposure to sex scenes accompanied by violence has led to the behavior of males of being less disturbed to sexual violence against women in real life situations. Continual exposure to horror films gives viewers the notion that some socially unacceptable behaviors are sometimes necessary. For example, there is this belief that there is some acceptable level of violence against women that may have positive consequences.
Fusion of sexuality and death also leads to an increase in the number of violent acts mostly against women; this result from a don’t-care attitude towards these issues learned from these movies. Studies show that, male college students show less concern and less sympathy for victims of rape, this happened to the notion they get from these horror films that women enjoy rape (Edmondson 107).
Continuous exposure to some of these X-rated films has a major effect on the thought patterns of the viewers. Even though most of these viewers distinguish between reality and fantasy, the media has the capability of modeling the behaviors of some of them especially children and teenagers. Research shows that even people have differentiated between reality and fiction, the perceptions they get from these films have a great Impact on their behavior. Sexual violence in horror movies affects the thoughts in the following processes:
• Labeling sexual related violence as more sexual rather than a violent act
• Having the perception that sexually related, violence is normal and culturally acceptable
• Changing the responsibility to place more blame on the victim
• Showing sexual related aggression as positive
• Alteration of perceptions that victims derive pleasure from sexual pleasures
Direct exposure to sexually violent media changes people’s attitude, this is according to a research study conducted on adults due to the legal barriers against exposing such explicit content to minors. Although research does no clearly show an increased sexual aggression, the fusion between sexuality and death in Euro horror movies has a major effect on most of the young adults. Those interviewed agreed that thought patterns do change due to the contribution of the frequent exposure to antisocial behavior such as the aggression against women and the relationship between sexuality and violence related activities that mostly lead to death.
Edmondson, Jacqueline. Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars and Stories That Shaped Our Culture. N.p., 2015. Print.
Longinović, Toma. Vampires Over the Ages: A Cultural Analysis of Scientific, Literary, and Cinematic Representations. N.p., 2014. Print.
Wynter, Kevin A. Feeling Absence: Horror in Cinema from Post War to Post-Wall. Berkeley, CA, 2014. Print.
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