Revenge flicks have long bothered me. You spend two hours watching the characters you care about get hurt, harassed, horrified and humiliated. Then, in the last couple of minutes, you get to watch the villain die to a bullet through the head.
Hardly seems fair.
But Sucker Punch demonstrates why this has to happen. For a wound to hurt, it has to be a wound you feel. When you're taking out steampunk Nazis, you don't feel for them. When you're slicing an evil robot in half, you cheer. When you take out a samurai wielding a wicked-huge gun, you clap your hands in glee. But when your sister gets shot right before your eyes by a heartless crime lord... oh, you feel it.
When two of your friends are murdered before your eyes, it hurts.
The win is temporary. More demons will follow the last wave. But the loss is permanent. Your sister is not coming back from the dead.
Sucker Punch is an excellent reminder that over-the-top stylized violence can be a ton of fun while, at the same time, a single bullet can rip your soul open. There's an emotional connection with the characters you care about. In an age when some blame violent media with school shootings, I take a different perspective. Violent movies themselves demonstrate the difference between enemies and allies. We do not become the heartless, soulless, faceless monsters our characters destroy. Instead, something else must happen in the mind of a murder. The victim must not be a victim. The person you kill must become a monster, a barrier, a fiend. Thus, our desensitization comes not from over-stimulation but dehumanization.
The win, then, is that violent media is not the problem. The loss, however, is that we can so easily mistake a person for a parasite.
Your Media Production Mentor