Anyone who’s been reading the mystery/thriller genre over the past several years is well aware of the Stieg Larsson series that includes The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. The novels, originally written in Swedish, debuted in the U.S. after they were translated into English, and soared to international fame.
For good reason. In these novels Larsson created an engrossing plotline with a cast of incredibly intriguing characters (Lisbeth Salandar being the obvious choice). All three novels are simply impossible to put down. I’ve read each novel, and went to see the movie adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo last Saturday. In one word? Phenomenal. One of the best movie adaptations of a book that I’ve ever seen. So imagine my surprise when I found that the movie has not only been a target for unwarranted criticism by online reviewers, it’s actually been getting all-out slammed in some venues for the graphic violence depicted in the film. The major criticism that I’ve read is that it was simply “too much,” and the scene(s) in question were too difficult to watch.
I won’t spoil the movie or book for anyone who does not know the story…but to those of you who do, I ask you this: are you that surprised that your initial reaction to the violence depicted was one of revulsion? Does it really worry you that you found these scene(s) almost impossible to watch?!? My point is simple; if you were not repulsed by what was taking place and/or found it easy to watch these scene(s), then there’s something wrong with you. Seriously wrong. Furthermore, I would argue that the “type” of violence that Larsson shoves into a mainstream light is not a rare occurrence by any stretch of the imagination. No, in fact it happens all too often to far too many women (and men for that matter). And it happens all the time. If you can stomach watching Jack Bauer blow people away in his search for the nuclear bomb (and I’m by no means innocent on that count; I watch 24 all the time) with no issues, then it’s simply a double standard to then argue that the violence depicted in Larsson’s story (either the book or movie version) is too much for you. If anything, it’s an integral component of the story, and it forces us to admit to the existence of a crime that is simply far too common. If you can’t do that, then you’re missing one of Larsson’s major points in its entirety. It’s a crime that we would rather ignore the existence of, or make excuses as to why it occurs and debate over whether or not someone was “asking for it”. And that’s precisely Larsson’s point. In my opinion, it was probably one of the major motivators for why he focused on it to the extent that he did.