Still, in one scene, while Mickey and Mallory lie chatting on a hotel bed, Stone projects a collage of visceral movie and TV footage above their heads, like video wallpaper. Among the footage (which is far more riveting than anything the two ninnies on the bed are saying), we see glimpses of some of the more Jacobean moments from Scarface and Midnight Express, both films scripted by Stone himself--violent, horrible images which he had a hand in creating. Perhaps Stone intends this small, furtive gesture as an avowal that a few drops of prurient blood never did his career any harm.

Natural Born Killers could have been far scarier and more to the media-bashing point (but less commercially viable) had the same script, or at least the central characters, been presented straightforwardly. Of course, it's difficult (and perhaps not even healthy) to deal with the TV-friendly variety of crime without a touch of black comedy; most such incidents bring out the ugly humor in us all (the O.J. business is one of those real-life events which will give social satirists a lot of catching up to do). In general, though, Stone is quite right--the trivialization of real (as opposed to fictional) violence by the mass media is a serious matter. So why did he trivialize it?

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