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Natural Born Killers

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One of Oliver Stones masterpieces, Natural Born Killers, caused severe controversy due to the graphic, but sincere portrayal of how the media devilishly feeds on violence and how the people of the country respond to these glamorized acts of wrong doing. Although the nation has condemned the movie for its shockingly violent scenes, critics like Roger Ebert and devoted Stone fans like Jason O'Brien have a different perspective on the message that this movie is trying to portray. That is, the simple fact that we, a television based society, have narrowed our variety of entertainment to violence, sex, and sexual violence. A master a satire, Oliver Stone takes film viewers through a twisted tale of two mass murderers, their glorification by a journalist and the nation's idolization of them.

The techniques used in this film create a feeling of violence beyond that of the actual murders that take place. Through its breakneck rhythm, changing color to black and white and cartoons to television anti-sitcoms, all while showing violent acts of murder and sexual abuse, takes shock to a new level. What makes this film so shocking is the fact that it shows how our nation reacts to such horror. "Stone was attempting to make a film that made us experience the true nature of violence, in order to see how absurd it is when the media makes killers heroes." (O'Brien) Stone comically portrays Mallory's childhood as a television sitcom. Her father's abusive words towards her and her mother are the punch lines that the crowd is most pleased with. " Maybe Stone meant his movie as a warning about where we where headed, but because of the Simpson trial it plays an indictment of the way we are now." (Ebert) This clearly is a mirror image of our nation's behavior during similar instances like the O.J. Simpson trial. During this time court TV was more of a soap opera than a trial of a man suspected of viciously killing two people.

One important scene in the film is the portrayal of Mallory's home in the style of an American family sitcom. Oliver Stone was clearly mocking television shows that our society has grown up watching, like Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy. On the surface, sitcoms offer merely a sanitized picture of daily life. It represents the American dream, but not the true way of American life. Through this scene, Stone is trying to make his viewers realize this irony by creating an anti-sitcom. In this anti-sitcom, there are no moral messages and the father (played by Rodney Dangerfield) is abusive verbally and physically. Although this is taboo in the sitcom family, it better represents true life than sitcom families do. "The scene being played out is grossly inappropriate for a sitcom family but all too unfortunately reflective of many families in the real world." (Weinberger) In a cynical way, Stone is criticizing the very shows our society has grown up on. At the same time he is also getting the point across that television is not real and that it should not be so heavily relied on to teach morals to our children.

This movie is about two mass murderers, Mickey and Mallory Knox, who rampage across the country killing everyone in sight. They always leave someone to tell the tale of their killings so they can claim credit for their actions. "The movie is not simply about their killings, however, but also about the way they electrify the media and exhilarate the public." (Ebert) These two mass murderers inspire a feeding frenzy by the media and the public. During this time they are the most popular people in the country. They are not frowned upon by the public; instead they are worshipped through mass media, through television. They become idols to the public and one slimy journalist who aids the idolization process by feeding the nation the murderous coverage they want to see. "One teenager tells the TV cameras, "Mass murder is wrong. But if I were a mass murderer, I'd be Mickey and Mallory!" (Ebert) This depicts the fact that Stone is attacking a generation of people who do not know a world with out television. All that is seen through television becomes somewhat of a blur between reality and fantasy and the repetition of news broadcasts can numb even the most gruesome reports.

Another major player in this movie



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