Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Relating Se7en to "Heroes in Hard Times" and "Framing Blackness"

Although I was not originally a big fan of “Heroes in hard times” (and I still the think the writing style was pretty awful) I do see examples of some of the points discussed in Se7en. First of all, there is the girlfriend issue. The author of Heroes in hard times likes to point out all the problems caused by cops who either neglect their significant others, or ignore their needs, or end up widowers. Se7en clearly epitomizes this problem. Mills never knows of his wife’s fears, or pregnancy, and in the end, the bad guy gets to her and kills her. I also began to understand the author’s discussion of the sodomy element of cop movies. Mills and Somerset (especially Mills) says the ef word a lot, and even demonstrates at one point. Leaning over he says, “he’s f***ing with us, see this, this is us”. This is undeniably a “sodomy” reference. Later, when the “Lust” killing takes place, the male involved recounts how he was told to “f***” the girl, while the killer stuck a gun into the male’s throat. Although it may be a stretch, this action seems to signify that the killer was getting some sort of sexual gratification himself, as if the male was not only “F***ing” the girl, but being f***ed by the killer as well. After reading the Heroes in Hard times book I became acutely aware of the double meaning of many common swear words, and actions (the gun down the throat being one of them). Another example was the “live for the job” attitude of Somerset. He seems to be a very one dimensional character: he has no family, no home life, nothing besides being a cop. He defines his life by being able to solve cases, and does not even have a first name until a third of the way into the film. Just like Riggs at the beginning of “Lethal Weapon”, Somerset lives for the job; it is what he is good at. He even convinced his past girlfriend not to have his baby because he was afraid of bringing the child up. He is alone in the world with only his badge and his job, he postpones his retirement to solve this last case. And Mills wonders if Somerset’s views of the world are not what makes him want to retire, but his retirement that creates his views. His occupation (or future lack thereof) defines his opinions.

Somerset also fits into many of the unsavory stereotypes discussed in “Framing Blackness”. While Mills is at home with a woman at his side, Somerset spends his nights alone with a metronome and a dart board. He is black man isolated in a white world. The only other black character the viewer really sees is the woman Mills pays to give a statement justifying their entrance to the killer’s apartment. Guerrero would argue that this situation is not natural. Somerset is, essentially, a white man, he interacts with white men and women; he is securely middle class, well dressed and financially safe. Race is ignored in this movie.

I enjoyed this movie; the cinematography was amazing: very grim, sharp and disturbing. Unfortunately, I found the subject matter a little off-putting, and am in no rush to see it again. I do feel that it backed up a lot of points made by the authors of our two books, which added credibility to the texts.


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