Thursday 23 November 2017

Eilis O'Hanlon: Crank up the body count, we want much more gore

Bloodthirsty TV viewers and cinemagoers just can't get enough of grisly murders

FINE YOUNG CANNIBAL: Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen as a young Dr Hannibal Lecter in NBC TV series 'Hannibal'
FINE YOUNG CANNIBAL: Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen as a young Dr Hannibal Lecter in NBC TV series 'Hannibal'
COP-ON: Marg Helgenberger in top-rated CSI Las Vegas

Eilis O'Hanlon

IF future historians were ever to dig up TV schedules in search of clues as to what made us tick as a race in the early 21st Century, they'd surely decide that ours was a culture obsessed with celebrity, cooking and crime. In fact, it's only a matter of time before the three obsessions are inevitably brought together by having rejected contestants on Celebrity MasterChef executed on pay-per-view for failing to make the perfect souffle.

Where murder is concerned, crime dramas have certainly evolved a long way from the days when Inspector Morse was pottering around Oxford solving the mystery of who poisoned the history professor during Michaelmas. Murder is now increasingly graphic and gruesome, and there is so much violent crime depicted in modern TV drama that viewers could practically carry out an impromptu autopsy if need be. Last week, the first series of Love/Hate even made it to Britain's Channel 5, introducing an audience of nearly 750,000 to the murderous realities of life in gangland Dublin. It should fit in nicely on a crime-obsessed channel that already features endless re-runs of CSI: Here and CSI: There and CSI: Every Ruddy Where.

Murder has, in a way, replaced sex as the thrilling contemporary taboo of choice, with the same escalating pattern of desensitisation. Once upon a time a bit of light titillation was all a punter needed to be satisfied. Now on-screen depictions of sex are explicit and prolonged, and there's even more neo-gynaecological fare online. The regular user becomes jaded and needs ever more extreme and innovative thrills to get the same return.

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