To demonstrate this manipulation of the emotions by technique, I'll present an example from a clip of Robert Wise's 1947 noir film Born to Kill. The part I will be referring to is specifically from about 4:00-4:40 in the video below.
The video shows all of this, but in case you didn't watch it all, the part from 4:00-4:40 takes place directly after a man and woman are murdered by the woman's boyfriend of sorts for "stepping out" on him with said man. The woman seen peeking in through the doorway is an acquaintance of the murdered woman, simply trying to return her dog to the house. When she peers inside, she is met with the sight of a man's hand connected to an unseen body, and a woman's legs, the rest of her figure laying in shadow, also unseen. They are obviously dead. Page 109 of Wes D. Gehring's book, Robert Wise: Shadowlands, references this technique, saying, "In cinematically reducing the victims to mere body parts, Wise has metaphorically permeated the sequence with the torment of a horror-film dismemberment, without the gratuitous violence of the Saw series." This sentiment has stuck with me over the past few days. It is really true that, by showing the audience only the hand and the pair of legs, Wise makes them seem less of people and more of objects, like the dismembered limbs of numerous modern day hack-em-up horror films. This view of them will give any viewer an eerie, gruesome, even macabre feeling to accompany the scene, something that could not be done if the camera were to simply reveal two dead bodies laying on the floor.
The whole concept reminded me of the "Independent Media in a Time of War"video that we watched in class back in February, and its mention of how the media refuses to show us the more gruesome images of war, the twisted, burned bodies, the serious injuries, especially when they're children. Based on how I've demonstrated that the effects in this scene of Born to Kill make the outcome more macabre, just as gruesome photos of war already are, and incite emotions in the viewer, it becomes clear that the media is trying to avoid inciting similar emotions in its audience. It seems a simple point to make after so much speculation, but does everyone completely agree with it? Any objections? What are your thoughts?