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Watching James Woods

May 24, 1987

There were plenty of things James Woods said with which one could take offense, but the one that got me was his belief that it is necessary to show a killing in all its bloody glory ("Woods: Right Home in 'Blood' Role," by Patrick Goldstein, May 17).

Why? If it is for the sake of the story, a verbal description would suffice. The only reason I can see for true-to-life depictions is that our media-crazed society has become hooked on mayhem, both real and imaginary.

Psychological studies have repeatedly shown that viewing violence produces violence. Death and destruction no longer horrify us since we see it daily on television or in movies.

I always think in this context of Dr. Hans Kramer, a member of Hitler's SS. One of his first assignments was to watch a mass execution by burning. His first diary entry said, "Awful . . . Dante's Inferno . . . I cannot stand it." After repeated performances he took these ritual exterminations in his stride and a later entry speaks of attending another such event and then enjoying a hearty meal.

Personally, I don't care how the real guys carry their guns, Mr. Woods, nor how a head looks when it's cut off. I am terribly concerned that we are becoming inured to the sufferings of others because we are treated to these wonderfully "real" depictions of violence and slaughter.

VICTORIA E. THOMPSON

Pacific Palisades

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