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Screen StoriesEmotion and the Ethics of Engagement$
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Carl Plantinga

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190867133

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190867133.001.0001

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Narrative Paradigm Scenarios

Narrative Paradigm Scenarios

Revenge and the Other

(p.231) 12 Narrative Paradigm Scenarios
Screen Stories

Carl Plantinga

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the revenge scenario, arguing that, from an ethical perspective, screen storytellers should approach the scenario with caution and, when using it, complicate, nuance, and question it. The revenge scenario works because it is a reliable way to elicit the strong emotions that draw viewers. The pleasures of revenge scenarios depend upon Manichaean distinctions between good and evil—the good tribe and the bad tribe, the morally upright protagonist and the vile offender. If humans are tribal creatures, the typical revenge scenario exaggerates tribal feelings through narrative means and uses them to elicit strong and pleasurable emotional responses dependent on clear distinctions between us and them and simplified exaggerations of the Good and the Bad. The chapter examines the revenge scenario as it is employed in Django Unchained, Funny Games, and True Grit.

Keywords:   revenge, vengefulness, Django Unchained, Funny Games, True Grit, Michael Haneke, Quentin Tarantino

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