Seven Psychopaths is a film unlike any others we have watched in class: none of the main characters seem to follow Campbell’s monomyth cycle of a hero, and Billy, the character that gets the most attention throughout, seems to even portray a sort of anti-hero. With that being said, though it is not the film we were meant to link with the fairytale readings we have done thus far, I believe there are still some connections that can be drawn between the film and traditional lore.
One link would be the concept of violence – not just aggressiveness or gore, but more the over-dramatizations of these things. We have talked briefly about the ways in which fairytales often portray gruesome acts of violence, such as the huntsman being told to kill the sometimes as young as 7-year-old girl in the woods and cut out her heart, lungs, or liver to bring back to the queen; or the wicked stepsisters hacking at their feet and literally removing their own body parts in order to put on a blood-soaked slipper; or those same stepsisters having their eyes fiercely pecked out by birds. There are many examples to be found in fairytales, but the parallel to this level of violence that I noticed most in Seven Psychopaths was when it came to the story of Zach and Maggie – the serial killer-killers. Though the flashbacks were shown with twisted romantic undertones, the images put on the screen were gruesome enough for many people to look away, such as when Maggie was quite literally sawing off someone’s head, or when they staked the Zodiac’s hands to the table before lighting him on fire. In my mind, there is the violence we are most used to, such as the frequent shooting of guns throughout the film, and then there is violence on a whole other level that seems to simply be violence for the sake of violence, such as those examples of the serial killer-killers. While these acts were not necessarily drawn from a fairytale, the violence was indicative of such tales, and the casual way in which Zachariah relayed them to Marty reminded me as well of how we mentioned authors of these variations of fairytales tend to just say something outrageous to us before moving on, as if their audience can just accept it without question.
Also worth noting, though perhaps to a lesser degree, was the marginalization of any female characters portrayed. Firstly, there were few enough that I could count them on one hand: the Australian girlfriend who was constantly called names; Myra, who was killed off; Angela, who was killed off; the imagined hooker; and very briefly the background of Maggie, unless I am forgetting another. Regardless, women had a far smaller and more insignificant presence in the film than the men had, which calls up the idea we learned from the fairytales about the life of action being unfeminine. Of course, Maggie’s life was certainly full of action – but a corrupt, psychopathic side of it rather than the type of action a hero typically gets to experience.