Sex, violence and videotapes: ethics of film expression in Michael Haneke’s films
The author of this paper explains the specific relation between ethics and film on the example of Michael Haneke’s films that tackle the (non)presentation of types of ethically questionable social behaviours and behaviours qualified as taboo or behaviours which are media spectacles: sex, violence and other activities. This complex interaction of social norms, ethical codes that should be, but are often inapplicable both in concrete social interactions and in representations of social interactions, as well as the contents of the film, the manner of presentation and its effect on the empirical viewer, can not be reduced to a one-sided analysis of the contents of an individual film or a group of films, the contents of which would be either ethically intriguing for a reductive ethical analysis of the effect of its fictional characters, as if that was a faked possible situation of real inter-subjective experience of the world, or ethically questionable, considering the existing ethical codes set up in a concrete sociocultural situation. To the contrary, the author emphasizes the ways in which film contents, understood semiotically as film expressions, bind the potentially real viewers to “read” them in a specific way and thus become participants of the narrative situation which may be ethically questionable or affirmative, depending on the viewer’s cognitive, social, cultural and moral dispositions and values. This allows for an interpretation of film expressions in the context of the critical and ideological term of interpellation, or rather the way in which the film invites the viewer to perform a number of cognitive operations based on the forms of expression it uses and to produce a specific emotion in relation to the intention of the contents of a specific frame, part of the frame, a broader narrative film unit or the general impression of the film.