One way in which I feel estranged from portions of the mainstream movie audience is my total aversion to scenes involving torture, which makes me avoid films involving them as much as possible. (I wound up seeing Pan’s Labyrinth, currently picking up lots of deserved annual awards, which opens shortly before the end of the year, anyway, but this is one of the rare cases where I consider the depiction of torture artistically defensible on some level.) I assume that a lot of people must like scenes of torture because of the success of Saw, Saw II, and presumably even Saw III. One can also derive the rather alarming impression from reading a lot of polls that much of the American public, while currently regarding George W. Bush as a liar and an incompetent, still seem to admire him for standing up for what he believes in even when he’s proved wrong, e.g., believing in torture even though it’s been demonstrated that the results of torture in extracting information are practically worthless and that most of the people being jailed in Abu Ghraib and perhaps tortured as well turn out to be innocent anyway.

This suggests that significant portions of the American public are quite happy to tolerate innocent Iraqis being tortured, at least as long as the details and the injustices of this practice aren’t being rubbed in our faces. But it seems like quite a few like fictional scenes of torture to be rubbed in their faces repeatedly. Not a very comforting thought to usher in the holiday season.