June 8, 2010

HE IMAGINED HIMSELF LISBETH, NOT BLOMKVIST

The perverse magic of Stieg Larsson: How did the Swedish writer get away with turning sickening abuse into mass entertainment? (Lucy Smith, 8 June 2010, MercatorNet)

Larsson does not leave a single detail out of the torture and murder scenes, each one outdoing the previous in the nauseating imaginativeness of the sadist’s techniques. And the film is true to the book. There is one scene in which we see extremely graphic photos of victims kept by their killer -- not just a couple of them but a whole wall of photos of abused, mutilated and clearly sexually violated women. Surely the point could just as easily have been made with one or two examples; why the decision to draw out the scene so unnecessarily?

Both film and book left me with the feeling that, instead of having watched and read a crime thriller, I had been witness to the bizarre and disturbed fantasy life of a middle-aged man. Blomkvist is unquestionably Larsson’s idealized alter-ego, a roguish and handsome crusader for the truth and a defender of the weak. And this is exactly where the idealization occurs, where Blomkvist and Larsson part ways.

Larsson, in fact, is no crusader but a hypocrite who, while ostensibly condemning sexual violence and sexism, engages in their glorification in order to sell books. He spent his leisure time imagining more and more disturbing ways of torturing and killing people, because – by his own account – it was relaxing.

What kind of dishonest society do we live in, where in the mornings over our newspaper and coffee we express unqualified outrage at sexual violence, while in the evenings we spend our leisure time being entertained by it?


It will surprise no one that he was a communist who resented Sweden ceasing to be socialist.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 8, 2010 6:23 PM
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