Things that make me go squick

Carnivale is a great show but it is constantly pushing the boundaries of what I am OK with watching. I have rarely had to stop looking at a TV show becuase I’m too upset, but Carnivale forces me to do that every second episode or so. It really goes to show how fantastic this show is that I keep watching it, even though it upsets me.

I think it’s also a testament to how much desensitizing works that it’s not the punch-ups or the people falling to their deaths that bothers me. It’s the things I’ve never seen before that really freak me out.

This entry will be a kind of catalogue of things I can’t stand to watch, but have seen. I am making this list to see how other people react to it and also to get it out of my head in the hopes that I’ll feel a bit better.

Slightly Spoilerific for Carnivale (both seasons), The Piano Teacher, Kill Bill Vol. 2 and The Gift
Last night in Carnivale we watched an episode in which a character is tarred and feathered. Now, obviously I knew that this is something that has happened in the world, but I’ve only ever seen it in a cartoon context, as a joke. It never occured to me that when it’s done “in real life” the tar would of course, need to be hot. It was boiling hot…so it burned the skin. Then the character yelled something at the people torturing him and they put the brush of boiling tar in his mouth. At that point completely on their own my arms leaped up to shield my face, I shouted “Oh My God!” and I refused to look for the duration of the scene.

It was a purely physical reaction that I had no control over. I couldn’t stand Lee to talk about what was happening and I could barely deal with the subsequent scenes with that character. As I said to Lee last night “For some reason this really bothers me. Please don’t talk about it.” This morning I was relating this all to C and I felt very emotional, almost as if I’d start crying.

This is the first time I’ve had such a very extreme reaction, but this show has upset me before. As in Kill Bill Vol. 2 there is a scene of someone being buried alive that I couldn’t cope with. In Kill Bill I hated QT for making us really experience that along with the Bride character. Some things I never want to experience!

Another Carnivale incident was with ‘the mask maker’. He drugs the main character and makes a ‘death mask’ of him while he is awake, but paralysed. Obviously this doesn’t kill him but the scene of the plaster being spread onto the face with no breathing holes was very upsetting. It was a fantastic episode though, and very well made.

A few years ago I saw The Piano Teacher, going in I knew the main character was a sado-masochist so I thought I knew what to expect. What they didn’t warn you of was that she was also a sociopath. I went to this movie with my soon-to-be-Mother-in-Law because she wanted to hear the fantastic music and we were both very shell shocked after it. A lot of people left the screening and one woman had some kind of panic attack. The scene I found the most upsetting and the one that haunts me still involves the main character cutting her own vagina with razor blades. Some things are so horrendous that you never even conceive of them.
(I just realised I’m going to get some weird search term matches after this entry.)

Sometimes it’s not a specific action but the quality of the violence that really squicks me out. I like a certain kind of action movie: the ones were the violence is stylized/super-cool/jokey. One of the main problems I had with the Bourne Identity was that I felt the fist fights were very realistic. Same with The Gift, it includes a scene of torture which I found to be just too believable, like watching a documentary. It was too realistic and so I couldn’t watch. To this day I can’t say that The Gift is a good movie, because that one scene disturbed me too much.
These images and the descriptions I’ve made here cause me to react physically. My teeth clench, I get stomach cramps, my eyes close and I feel updet like I might cry. These feelings are the same as those caused in me by stress.
I guess it’s good that images of torture upset me, and I guess what I’ve just described can be lumped together under that category I just wish I never had to see these things in the first place.


21 thoughts on “Things that make me go squick

  1. I’m with you on most of those. I’ve seen some pretty nasty buried alive scenes, but Kill Bill really made me feel it.
    For me it’s realistic, prolonged or sexual violence. I’ve never met a rape scene that didn’t make me feel ill. Even the weird role-reversal scene in The Rookie where Sonia Braga raped Clint Eastwood made me a bit queasy.

  2. Yeah I’m the same about rape scenes. Reading them in books makes me feel sick more than movies though. I guess cos books tend to get more graphic.
    Torture in movies is the worst for me. One thing that makes me always go “arrggh” about & cringe is where people’s joints go in opposite directions than what they should. Can’t remember the movie but they started to show someone breaking someone’s finger & I had to look away. Happens with sports injuries too. Fist fights don’t usually bother me though.

  3. I avoid stuff with rape (ratings will say sexual violence) so I didn’t include it as I just haven’t seen that much.
    There was actually a rape in a Carnivale epsiode, but it was quick and short and just didn’t affect me on the same level. That being said I will never see “Irreversible” and the deleted scene in Antitrust that shows Ryan Philippe raping his girlfriend made me hate him a lot.

  4. The rape scene in Buffy was one of the hardest things ever to watch because it was two characters that you’d grown to love over 6 seasons. It was brutal.

  5. I’m just bad with any kind of REAL seeming violence. I’m the biggest fan in the world of cartoon style violence, and I’l laugh more than anyone when a FPS monster/player gets fragged into quivering sushi style gibs.
    BUT. Real violence, obviously, is not fun. The buried alive scene for example. The bit in Kill Bill Vol. 1 – when the Bride is crunching that scumbag’s head into the door – oh god, and his whole violation of her. That was freaking unsettling. I find rape to be deeply upsetting ( You’ll be happy to hear I guess ) – which is why I stayed the hell away from Irreversable. I won’t watch Cape Fear again for similar reasons. Or that one about the kids who were abused by the prison guards while they were in juvie. I forget the name. Brad Pitt was in it.
    I would have walked out of OT’s “R.Dogs” when I saw it years ago – if my legs would have functioned. The whole torture bit is awful. Another film I won’t watch again.
    But anyone who says Warner Brothers cartoons are bad because they promote violence should get an anvil dropped on them.
    Yeah. That would be great. =)

  6. Oh ! Oh ! And anything done to somebody’s EYES. For the love of all that’s holy that freaks me out !
    King Lear ! Cripes man ! I hate that bit where they blind that guy. *shudder*

  7. Oh, I’d forgotten the Buffy attempted Rape. Eeech. That was very upsetting on an emotional level, but for true squicking out I have to say (for me) Gnarl attacking Willow. Belly…so tender. Needs protecting.
    I guess I just react to rape scenes in a different way to the stuff I’ve described above…it’s not so much a physical reaction as an emotional one. I cried a lot in “Sex is Comedy” after a simulation of coercive anal sex made the actress cry.
    and as I say, I stay away from stuff I know has rape in it. I just don’t need to see that stuff.

  8. Were you in my english class, when we were watching “Once were Warriors” and the teacher fast-forwarded through the rape-scene?

  9. I usually find eyeball violence to be pretty funny – that scene in Kill Bill vol. 2 was hilarious – which is kinda weird ’cause I’ve got very sensitive eyes that hurt a lot.

  10. A friend of mine has a thing about needles and eye-balls. There’s a scene in Farscape, more than one actually, that involves needles being put in people’s eyebals, and one time they pull the whole eye right out and attach this thing to the stem bit.
    Seraph mentioned about Kill Bill vol. 1 and the door scene. Reminds me of American History X, when ed Norton puts tis guys jaw over the curb and stomps on him. Instant death obviously but sheesh that is violence you have to look away from.

  11. I *hate* that scene (American History X). I don’t think I could watch that film again simply for that one, awful scene, even though I thought the movie as a whole was really good. I think it’s the sound the teeth make on the concrete…
    I don’t remember torture in The Gift. Only the girl in the tree. (I did watch most of that movie through my fingers though)
    The final montage on Requiem For A Dream is possibly the height of squickness for me. I couldn’t watch anything worse than that. It’d make me throw up.

  12. In the Gift, it’s the climax od the story, she goes and saves the abusing father of troubled boy.
    Jeeze, I’d forgotten that bit from American History X. I love the movie but I have to skip past that scene!…and the shower-rape bit.
    The door scene in Kill Bill is also the squick.
    Giffy: when I studied Once Were Warriors we watched the rape scene a bunch of times so I’m guessing we were in different classes.

  13. Huh. I might wince, I might be a little freaked by things, but generally speaking realistic violence in a movie doesn’t bother me all that much. It takes a lot to really squick me out.
    In fact, the only example I can think of, of me being totally squicked out by a movie was when I saw Cube, and one of the characters reminded me _very_ strongly of a friend of mine. Anything happening to her felt like it was happening to my friend, and made me feel physically ill.

  14. Giffy I was in that English class. Ms McK she was so lovely & understanding. I remember that other awful english teachers made their classes watch the rape scene but she fast forwarded it for us.

  15. Things happening to eyes, yes, and also the soles of feet. Anything where bones break into each other. Gyah. Sudden crunchy realistic violence is also bad, and I still have a shivery reaction to remembering seeing a large wrestler actually break his leg very badly on a televised programme like WCW or something – it kinda flapped.

  16. Speaking of wrestling, did you actually see Owen Hart die from his fall into the ring. That is freaky. In actual sports there was a College American Football match where Willis McGahee snapped the bones in his lower leg shin area. It was bent backward like ninety degress. Being on television of course they put it into slow-motion and reaplyed it, even highlighting the thing.
    It kind of reminds me of how they played and played and played the planes crashing into the two towers in New York. At first it was like oh my god, heart sinky sort of thing, and then it just became meaningless. I wonder if they were trying to ingrain the image into our head, not really realising that by playing it so much they removed the horror from it.

  17. mm. Some of these things I have heard of, and have consequently not watched the movie! – i.e.american history x
    And the buried alive in KB made me hyperventilate and I had to stand up and move away from the screen. Then I had nightmares 😡
    I was in your English class I’m sure Jenni. While that scene was yuk- though I found the hanging scene worse – since we were studying the movie it was probably important to actually watch it! I’m surprised Ms Mck fastforwarded it…

  18. Urgh…can’t handle things like eyes.
    There was a movie a while ago that, I think, was banned for having a 9 minute one take rape scene in it.
    It makes me ill to think about it.
    Violence doesn’t get to me. But even fairly basic sex scenes can make me quite uncomfortable (the one with Brosnan and Berry in Die another day does). It’s something that I think is private and shouldn’t be shared. Usually it’s needless and adds little to the story. I can cope with it better if it is integral to the story.
    Torture gets to me as well. The scene in 3 kings where mark wahlbergs character is force fed oil makes my grge rise, that kind of suffocation/drowning gets to me.
    Two movies I really enjoyed but will never watch again are Strange Days and 8mm, both are about rape/snuff media. Strange Days has possibly te worst rape scene in it I’ve ever scene.
    ****Spoiler warning****
    There’s these devices in strange days that record memories as they are being laid down. So in the movie there is a rape/snuff scene where the rapist puts one of these on the victim and feeds his feelsings and stuff into it. So she’d expereince his thrill as he was raping and killing her.
    just the thought of it makes me ill.
    ****Spoilers over****
    8mm is about a guy tracking down the makers of a snuff movie. Possibly the best acting I have seen from Nicholas Cage. Again, I felt ill throughout the movie. Posssibly the scariest thing was how you can see the desensitzation happening.
    There are probably others too, I can’t see how people can get a buzz out of watching those ‘Shocking Asia’ type videos.
    To me its just sick.

  19. I’m one of the hardballs, I’m afraid.
    I rarely get a truly squicky reaction from celluloid or textual violence.
    Like one repsondent noted, I do feel a bit dirty watching _real_ violence on film, but if I see truly graphc violence in a fictional context I’m immediately going “wow that looks real, what are they using for that effect?”
    I am actually more annoyed at films where the violence _isn’t_ real. That was the thing I hated most about “The A-Team” for instance.
    OTOH, I’m not too bothered by violence in real life either. I avoid it like any sensible person, but if I have to take someone down I will. And I’ve dealt wth enough accidents and body bags to not worry too much about gore either.
    But don’t worry Princess, your court of sensitive individuals can rest safe in the knowledge that us knights are here, to protect you guys from the bad stuff, and do the neccessary dirty work.
    Note to knights : Ensure any offenders are killed or tortured out of the Court’s sight.

  20. I perfectly happy when violence doesn’t look real. Princess Bride. Robin of Sherwood. These guys are just running around having fun with swords and pretendingto kill each other. The fighting is fun and full of flair and very changeling, but so completely unreal. I would never want it to be anything but unreal, it would spoil the whole mood.
    In a similar take, too many epic films have of late tried to capture the gritty reality of war and violence, and thanks to Peter Jackson (no thanks actually) have pushed the camera right up close into the action so that it makes no sense. I know what PJ was trying to do in LoTR (battle with goblins and Troll the best example). He was trying to get facial shots and see the action in the faces of the heroes. Now we get something like Batman Begins (don’t get me wrong I still liked Batman) and some of the fighst are just a bunch of incomprehensible flailing arms. Sure it might make the violence look gritty and real but it doesn’t tell the story.
    I’d rather have real storytelling than flashy effects (Unless it’s Star Wars, all can be forgiven if it’s Star Wars).

  21. I might point out that although it squicks me out, I am very much in favour of realistic violence on screen. I don’t much like it when violence is portrayed as being fun. OK, I do like it sometimes, but I don’t like the message it sends.
    It has been suggested that Bonnie & Clyde and The Wild Bunch contributed to the anti-Vietnam movement, simply because for the first time a lot of kids got an idea of how truly awful it would be not only to get shot, but to shoot someone yourself. I don’t know how true that is, but it seems plausible.

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