Saturday, April 12, 2008

Kill A Dozen People, But For God's Sake Don't Hurt the Dog

From Balloon Juice:
Here’s how it went:

1. Artist ties a dog to a tether on one corner of a room in a museum
2. Artist places bowl of food just out of reach in other corner
3. Over a period of days, dog dies of starvation.

Except, as it turns out, the whole thing was a hoax. The dog was regularly fed and watered, and released at the end of the exhibit.

It has now emerged, however, that artist Guillermo Habacuc Vargas intended the work to be a stunt to show how a starving dog suddenly becomes the centre of attention when it is in a gallery, but not when it is on the street. The work was intended to expose people for what they really are - "hypocritical sheep". He said that in order for the work to be valid, he and the gallery had to give the impression that the dog was genuinely starving to death and that it died.

This runs up against an issue we see all the time as crime writers: you can describe rape, dismemberment and skinning alive, but if you really want to get some hate mail, have somebody kill a dog, or even worse, a cat. I actually had written a scene in SAFE AND SOUND where the bad guy uses a yowling cat locked in the trunk of a car to suck his victims in so that the bomb in the car would kill more people. A dozen people died in the scene but the cat got away unscathed. I dropped the cat part because it just didn't fit the tone, but I may still use something similar someday.



Jim Hetley said...

...and if you write certain kinds of speech or taboo acts, people will think you advocate that speech or practice those acts...

JD Rhoades said...

Exactly, Jim.

Uh, hello? What part of "bad guy" do people not understand?

pattinase (abbott) said...

The sharp intakes of breath at a movie theater when an animal is in jeopardly always amaze me when people are falling right and left. Must be akin to threatening a baby because they are both regarded as helpless and innocence.

Phoebe Fay said...

Well, you've described me perfectly. I can sometimes handle the human on human violence in a movie, for example, but I can NEVER handle human on animal violence.

But, really, I don't handle any of it very well. I've sat through large portions of many movies with my hands covering my eyes.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

One of these days I'm going to write a piece where I kill a dog, a cat, a baby, a homeless, medal-wearing, amputee vet and a nun.

Just to see what sort of idiot I can piss off.

Bill Cameron said...

I am Stephen's eternal fan. I can't wait to read it.

JD Rhoades said...

I can't wait, either.

Paul said...

Hi there
There is a new poll on this subject that shows there’s a huge split in public opinion. Some people think the artist had a point, some people would just like to see him dead! The results and article are here: