Canadian Makeup Artist Faces Real Trial for Fake Violence

This week the trial of Rémy Couture, the Canadian special-effects artist charged with "corrupting morals" by illegally combining sex and gore, began in Montreal. The evidence against him includes two short films depicting the crimes of a necrophiliac serial killer and various photographs of simulated torture and dismemberment that were posted on Couture's now-defunct website, InnerDepravity.com. The images were so realistic that Austrian police, alerted to the website by complaints from concerned citizens about six years ago, initially thought they were on the trail of an extremely indiscreet murderer. By the time the matter was referred to the Montreal police morality squad (yes, that is really what it's called) via Interpol in 2009, it was clear that no one had actually been harmed during the production of these icky images and that that Couture was merely showing off his skills with makeup and rubber guts. The National Post reports that Sgt. Detective Eric Lavallée nevertheless invented a ruse to lure Couture out of his apartment, "posing as a potential client seeking a mock gory photo session with his wife," instead of simply knocking on the door. Just to be safe.

The prosecution argues that Couture's work is obscene under Canadian law because "a dominant characteristic" of it is "the undue exploitation of sex" combined with "crime, horror, cruelty and violence." He faces up to two years in prison for this prohibited mixture, illustrated by exhibits such as these:

Classified on the site under such headings as “Hook,” “Burn,” “Sacrifice,” “Suicide” and “Necrophile,” the photos show half-naked women being tortured, mutilated and sexually assaulted.

In one series, a masked male killer slices off a woman’s nipple. In another, a woman victim has a knife inserted in her genitals. Some of the photos depict the attacker having sex with a corpse.

And these:

One of the films showed a muscular, tattooed man in a mask, appearing to eat a victim's intestines. In another, a barely dressed, blood-drenched woman was strapped to a bed with a large crucifix lying across her.

Not your cup of tea, probably. But are these fake felonies also a real felony? Yes, according to Crown Prosecutor Michel Pennou, who on Tuesday told the jury charged with assessing the artistic merits of Couture's work (his main defense) that his simulated mayhem was an assault on "fundamental Canadian values." Becauses Canadians are nice, I guess.

Yesterday, the Post reports, UCLA psychologist Neil Malamuth testified that "violent pornography 'can add fuel to the fire' when viewed by men who are predisposed to being sexually aggressive toward women." During a period when steady declines in violent crime have coincided with a surge in highly successful torture-porn movies, there is reason to doubt this sort of effect, if it exists at all, is very strong. But assuming Malamuth is right, should artists be held criminally liable for the hypothetical reactions of especially depraved people who happen to encounter their work? Twelve randomly selected art critics will decide.

Previous coverage of the case here and here. Couture's supporters defend his right to free expression here.

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  • ||

    Not your cup of tea, probably.

    Oh Jacob, if only you could see my dvd shelf.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I assume its 90% crush videos ordered from the internet?

  • Tim||

    Kaiju sex?

  • ||

    One of my prized possessions is a Kaiju Big Battel sweatshirt. Danger Can Happen!

  • ||

    You're both right!

  • Tim||

    They never adequately answered how Mothra was getting preggers in every film.

  • ||

    The web-shooting larvae were clearly phallic.

  • Tim||

    My son (7) loves Godzilla and son of Godzilla. I tried to spare him Roland Emmerich's version but he caught it on cable. He was so excited and happy because here was a movie with Mommy Godzilla.

  • BakedPenguin||

    "There are only three real monsters, kid. Dracula, Blacula, and son of Kong."

  • ||

    I'm in my 30s and still love the Big Guy. I have all 27 movies (I do not count the American version) on dvd, and a ton of toys, foreign posters, collectibles, etc.

  • $park¥||

    I always knew you were the kind of person who collected dolls.

  • nicole||

    It's so no one will think he's stuck up like I am.

  • Tim||

    He picked up on Godzilla Junior not having a mommy, so when they reveal the eggs in Emmerich's POS he it all just clicked for him. It also explained why that Godzilla was so skinny (in his mind).

  • Way Of The Crane||

    I love the fact that he's wearing a smurf shirt while showing off his collection of masks and effects.

  • sloopyinca||

    True. Depiction of those nefarious little fucks is the real crime here.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Twelve randomly selected art critics will decide.

    Whatever they're paying you Mr. Sullum, it's not enough.

  • Tim||

    Ironic, here you are defending his art but you still won't show any of it.

  • $park¥||

    Excellent alt-text, I'll bet nicole would approve as well.

  • ||

    She is JUST the kind of effete, stuck-up type of person who would appreciate something like that, isn't she?

  • nicole||

    I am.

  • Doctor Whom||

    +1

  • Tim||

    Quebec is a mash up: They got American puritanism, British law and French perversion.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Quebec Law is based on Civil Law, not the Common Law system of the British Empire.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    +French Civil Law

  • Tim||

    No guillotines?

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Why do you think the Royal Family never visits

  • sloopyinca||

    Because inbreeding is illegal in France?

  • Tim||

    Wouldn't a movie about a debauched family of sex fiends getting decapitated be illegal in Quebec?

  • np||

    It doesn't help us or the British much nowadays

  • Mint Berry Crunch||

    One of the films showed a muscular, tattooed man in a mask, appearing to eat a victim's intestines.

    Wait, "Machine" is still alive?

    I thought Nicolas Cage killed him at the end.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Was the violence consensual?

  • np||

    In a free and just society, after finding out that Remy wasn't some kind of nefarious discreet serial killer, the police would have simply turned around and sent a bill to those panicy Austrians for wasting their time, and use Interpol to enforce collection.

  • Ted S.||

    I'd argue that showing photos of Pierre Trudeau would be more likely to corrupt morals.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    His son AND Daughter are running for Prime Minister.

  • nicole||

    If Canada were actually cool, the loser would get to be Secondary Minister.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Sorry not daughter, ex-partner. I was off by a generation.

  • Brandybuck||

    Yet another case of free speech violation, with a victim too scummy for me to work up a sense of outrage over.

  • Jordan||

    He's a scumbag for making movies? WTF.

  • Doctor Whom||

    This is the country whose views on freedom of speech lefties keep telling America to emulate.

  • Erik Jay||

    And that's the goddam reason I can't escape to Canada -- yeah, they supposedly are "freer" on the Fraser and WSJ lists, but bigmouth freedom lovers like me would get arrested there daily for talking, blogging, whatever. Great. I'm now looking at Uruguay... Where the hell can we go? Anybody?

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