Carl Plantinga

This essay explores the elicitation of disgust in movies, focusing on the major rhetorical uses of such elicitation. The essay first defines disgust and shows the means and nature of its elicitation in the movies. Drawing on a distinction between physical and sociomoral disgust, the essay goes on to show how filmmakers either conflate and confuse the two (as in Don Siegel‘s Dirty Harry) or maintain a strict separation between them (as in David Lynch‘s The Elephant Man), in each case to serve the rhetorical purpose of the film. Finally, I discuss the ironic use of disgust in John Water‘s Polyester.

Film Studies