Psychoopaths In Film

802 Words4 Pages
The concept of psychopaths and sociopaths in Western society and culture is not clearly defined, and covers a great range of character, attitudes and behaviour. This range includes everything from someone who is introverted and not socially adept to mass murderers and cannibals. Characters of psychopaths in early films were often created without a real understanding of psychopathic personalities. They were often portrayed as caricatures, being emotionally unstable, sadistic, sexually compulsive and with an urge to engage in random violence, murders, and destruction. This was often accompanied by bizarre mannerisms, such as giggling, laughing, or facial tics, often creating famous but unreal characters. The public’s general ignorance of…show more content…
In many cases, mirroring the society it portrays, psychopathic behaviour is simply equated with criminal behaviour, since criminality itself is seen as the litmus test of whether someone is “demented” enough to conduct criminal activity, which some would see as totally unnatural and outside of their scope of life. Other groups, and even sub-cultures within a larger culture, might see criminal activity as “normal”, since they grow up in a neighborhood where crime is an everyday occurance, and people in their own families may be involved. So behaviour that shocks one group of people may seem normal to another…show more content…
Because of the attention it received in America, the portrayal of psychopaths in film was channeled into this nearly separate and exclusive film genre. The actions and details of the Ed Gein case, including cannibalism, necrophilia and grave robbing, became a pattern for the characteristics and activities of what was considered psychopathic behavior. Then two variations on the usual presentation of the psychopath emerged: the socially functional misfit often with a sexual obsession to kill, and the violent, dysfunctional mass murderer with idiosyncratic mannerisms and appearance. Norman Bates of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is an example of the first, while characters such as Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th and Michael Meyers in the Halloween series, along with Leatherface of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, are examples of the second. Movies started to include the violent but misunderstood acts of these characters into graphic film themes that became known as slasher films. In these films, psychopathic characters are usually unrealistic, exhibiting many characteristics, such as intelligence, sadism and a sort of supernatural
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