Thursday, February 24, 2000
On hand is a catalogue of titles sent to the Weekly called the Getsmarts Video List. It''s a list of films made for the sole purpose of sexual fulfillment, gratification, that rapture some feel they need. It''s distributed out of Long Beach by someone calling himself Gary T, and it''s a good example of what kind of market these types of films command.
"Crush" films, or what some call "animal snuff" flicks, are made for a specific sect of the foot-fetish population. They are movies in which squeaking crickets, squirming mice, kittens and puppies are ground, crushed and flattened--usually by women in everything from high-heeled pumps to sandals and even bare feet. The viewer, so it seems, needs to see these sorts of things in order to obtain climax.
The growing popularity of these movies came to the attention of the Humane Society eight years ago, and since then, the organization has seen the list of titles growing and the content becoming more and more disturbing.
The descriptions of these videos may lift a lazy smirk or a chuckle at first glance. For instance, one video boasts having a woman in a tight skirt sitting atop of mice, rolling around on top of them until they burst open and flatten. Another raves about a bathtub filled with 500 crickets that are subsequently stomped on.
After that, the reading gets harder, because you begin to think about what is actually happening to these animals. Perhaps it''s the amount of desensitization one has, but eventually it will get to you. The ominous meaning behind it. Like, who would watch this for sexual pleasure? And what types of people are buying these 30-minute videos at $70 apiece? What does it, or will it, mean in the long run?
Next up is a video of a guinea pig in which, like most larger animals in these films, it is tethered to the floor, wrapped in tape, and tortured for 40 or 50 minutes before finally behind pressed slowly into the floor--and one can hear what it sounds like when an animal screams.
One video brought before the U.S. Congress, which finally passed a law against the production and ownership of these videos, depicted a woman stomping on a realistic looking baby doll while in the background played the actual screams of an infant.
The correlation between the torture of animals and violent crime is very real. The FBI uses this to profile serial killers. Indeed, the perpetrators of several of the most recent school massacres throughout the country had a history of violence against animals.
The problem lies in the disvaluing of life. Maybe someone who steps into this with whatever kind of motivation would at first like to see some insects smashed. They''re light. And hey, a lot of people step on spiders, crickets and ants all the time. Then they get into mice, maybe some shrimp, on up to puppies, kittens, and perhaps a monkey.
Once you have enabled yourself to watch the death of a variety of different animals, there exists the same lack of respect for life as someone would have in killing a human being. The lazy smirks and chuckling grow silent then, when you think about the fact that human snuff films are being produced and that there is an audience who watches them.
"But this isn''t about death," a viewer might say. This is about the crushing, the fetish of watching something being crushed under a foot.
All right, then. Crush something that isn''t alive.
Until recently, enforcing laws against the animal cruelty in these crush videos has proven very difficult. The statute of limitations often runs out before the producer can be found, the videos are made without ever showing the participants'' faces, and the purchasers of these videos are exempt from liability.
Congress helped a great deal recently by passing a law that bans the sale, purchase or production of crush videos across state lines for the use of sexual entertainment. More recently, California Assemblymember Thomas Calderon introduced a bill that would give state officials the authority to enforce the recently passed federal law, while also prohibiting the possession of crush videos.
"Just as there is no constitutional right to videotape and sell child pornography, there is no constitutional right to videotape and sell tapes of unspeakable cruelty and homicide," says Calderon. "This bill is not a hard vote. Frankly, this bill is about eliminating criminal activity in our communities."
Think About It
At first glance, these laws seem almost unnecessary. Should tax dollars be spent fighting something that might not ever affect anyone we know?
Director Roman Polanski said something in a controversial film he made about the "blue" movies in Europe: No one would make these films unless there was a market for them, and it is important to remember that these movies are a reflection upon life as it is, and what kinds of people are already watching them.
If that is true, then what kind of culture are we living in? And what effect will all of this have on you?
We could think about the young man in Monterey who a Weekly reporter met recently, whose housemates had downloaded a short clip of a crush video they had found on the Internet--the source for a lot of these types of things--and who allegedly enjoyed laughing about it.
Now, is there anything more sobering or scary than knowing that people are getting off and being stimulated by senseless death? That wasn''t a question.