There is an already notorious scene in the new William Friedkin film Killer Joe, where Matthew McConaughey humiliates the double-crossing Gina Gershon by forcing her to fellate a fried chicken leg.
Now bear in mind this is after he has already broken her nose with a deft punch to the face. At this point I imagine the last thing she wants to do is simulate oral sex on a piece of poultry.
She would probably rather be in hospital.
Although the chicken leg blowjob scene is near the end of a film already filled with plenty of questionable “Male Gaze” (thank you Laura Mulvey) shots, as well as a fair bit of violence, it was by far the most repellent moment on screen.
It managed to be both gross and cringe-worthy, filled with the loud digetic sound of sucking and crying. It was the final straw for one woman, who was so offended that she collected her bag and left, her silhouette briefly projected onto the bloody fat smeared lips of a trembling bleeding Gershon.
Of course this is pure speculation.
She could have been reminded of a kinky sex game she wanted to perform with her husband so best put the oven on before he gets home, or she could have just been bored. I suspect however that due to timing and body language, it was because of offense.
In a world of rising cinema prices leaving a film fifteen minutes before the end is a brave decision.
She had reached her threshold, but she might not have known it was a women getting punched in the face until that day.
So Dear Reader, what is your own personal cinematic threshold?
What would push you to walk out on a film?
How far is too far? How boring is too boring? How much swearing is too.... etc.
Ask around. Question your peers and loved ones. I imagine you will find a smorgasbord of answers. Your ten-minute rape scene in a French film shown in reverse, is another person's popcorn munching thrill ride. What you find corrupt, shocking or appalling can be pure entertainment to someone else, just as what you find intriguing, moving and thrilling can be pure crap to someone else.
I have seen many walk outs in my film going career.
I have see people walk during the face punching of Jessica Alba in The Killer Inside Me, during the sex scenes in Brokeback Mountain (because they were homophobic yes. How do I know this? Because they shouted out “this film is about gays,” before they left. Idiots,) and during Monsters because there were less monsters then they expected.
However the majority of them have been due to dull third acts.
A quick twitter poll (the most extensive form of research) backs this up. More people have walked due to boredom then offense. A few turkeys include Batman and Robin, The Love Guru, Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skulls and Pirates of Caribbean 4. That one came up a lot. One person also felt Lord of The Rings was too long and “far fetched,” and (my favourite response so far) “Nearly. Did you just see Prometheus?”
It seems we are more likely to give an imaginary snub to the filmmakers who don’t challenge or interest us enough rather then those who shock us, which makes perfect sense.
I would rather watch a film that offended me then bored me, AS LONG AS it was in keeping with the plot rather then being pure sensationalism. I am not about to go and watch A Serbian Film. Or Rock of Ages.
But I would be more likely to walk out of something like Transformers then Killer Joe.
Sure, I felt a little nauseous in parts, but the horrific act was performed by a character who has been shown to be a sociopath. I wanted to see where it went and what he would do.
I would say the arse lingering camera shots in Transformers; a film aimed at teenagers and children, is more offensive.
Personally, the only film I have walked out of is Good Burger, the Kenan and Kel film.
I was young, I had eaten all my sweets, It was boring and I had no vested interest in the characters.
I have very nearly walked out of many other films, for example Pearl Harbour and (like many others) the last Pirates of the Caribbean, because I felt like I was watching a film written by people who envied the talent of blind limbless monkeys.
It seems Hollywood is better at boring us, then shocking us.
The most interesting example I was given was Funny Games, a film that challenges you to leave, reverse psychologising you into staying by prodding you arrogantly and asking you why you enjoy the violence so much.
That film wants to see the back of your head as you despondently leave the cinema, but instead you stay shouting “but I don’t love the violence,” secretly wishing to see the violence.
In the end I guess our stupid morbid curiosity will always out, which is why I have respect for the walker outer. That women demonstrated to no one in particular, except herself, that she was not enjoying the scene on screen.
She was demonstrating and upholding her own principles and inner moral compass.
I have respect for that.
My moral compass just navel gazes and eats fizzy laces.