Friday, October 02, 2015

Medieval Torture Devices: One Way to Flog an Average TV Show

The opening credits for The Bastard Executioner feature a number of medieval torture instruments, dripping in blood.  Gore in an attempt to hype a mediocre show. A reminder of play vs the real world and a caution that psychopaths are part of the BDSM community.

TV show - The Bastard Excutioner - metal spiked chair, Chair of Torture, Judas Cradle - medieval torture
1. Not exactly Game of Thrones

One time I ended up in one of the darker corners of Fetlife: something about the deepest fantasies of sadists. It was pretty ugly and non-consensual. I remember one woman describing how she dreamt of torturing a man, chopping of his limbs and other body parts before finally killing him. Some commenters applauded her for the intensity of her deepest desires.

TV show - The Bastard Excutioner - skull crusher - medieval torture
2. Barbaric, a no-brainer

Experiences like that have convinced me BDSM doesn't come with an on/off switch. Sadism especially, is a continuum. Some are more sadistic than others and what presumably holds them back is morality. If that fails, the deterrence of punishment should. When it comes to being a slave, I think a male sub is better of than a female one. Purely as a numbers game that is.

3 Not a predecessor to Gutenberg's printing press.

Gore overkill
I was reminded of what sadism and torture looks like when I saw the opening credits of The Bastard Executioner. It is a TV show set in 14th century England and FX' go at a Game Of Thrones clone. The series is written and directed by Kurt Sutter, who also created Sons of Anarchy, a TV show about close-knit outlaw motorcycle gang. Sometimes it feels as if Mr. Sutter tries to outdo Quentin Tarantino when it comes to over the top violence and the title credits for The Bastard Executioner are certainly a worthwhile effort.

4. Comes with a free rosary.

During the opening credits a huge assortment of medieval torture instruments is paraded in front of the viewer. Even though not all actually existed in the Middle Ages, I found the display disconcerting. They are no fun toys, but tools to torture and kill people in extremely unpleasant ways. Some say it was the law of the land back then, but the only reason to include them is to stir up controversy, which is always good for the ratings at least in the short run.

5. Better not hope the Inquisition used these.

Life is full of irony. A few days after I raved about finding the perfect blueprint for mistress' throne, I am confronted with the exact opposite. The opening credits of The Bastard Executioner start with a bloody image of a metal-spiked chair (1) called the Chair of Torture or Judas Chair, followed by a skull crusher (2). Both are usually lethal.

6. Some of these are used even today in religious self-flagellation.

In 2009 a collection of medieval torture devices, including a spiked chair, was put up for auction. The seller was moved by the debate over waterboarding, sleep deprivation and other torture techniques, rebranded as advanced interrogation.

7. Adams Family anyone?

The seller is adamant that it falls into responsible hands and hopeful that it will serve as a reminder of the gruesome nature of torture -- whether it's done with water and a board or an iron toe screw. The auctioneer's solution: 'Turn something terrible into something good.' Therefore part of the proceeds will go to Amnesty International and other human rights organizations.

8. Unfortunately one size fits all.

The opening sequence continues with thumbs screws (3), followed by some cage (4), likely a coffin with a rosary hanging from it, probably from the days of the inquisition. The metal crown of thorns (5) definitely isn't. Next is a ghastly flogger with metal blades (6) and a pair of metal helmets (7), perhaps a scold's bridle or masks of shame. The credits end with a bloody metal cuff (8) hanging from the ceiling and a close up of a bloody rack (9).

9. The Bastard Executioner: Gore stretched too far.

All of it is too much gore and irrelevant to the plot. As for any link to BDSM. I like my kink weird and odd - its freakishness is part of I love about kink. This however, it just freaks me out. No connection with BDSM or femdom whatsoever. Still, it is good to remind yourself every now and then, there is a difference between play and real life. And to caution yourself about the psychopaths hiding in the BDSM community.
If these image are not enough: Youtube has the full opening sequence.

  1. Torture was common in the Middle Ages. The sources used in identifying the various devices are mostly history-related. Medieval Warfare's section on torture has lumped everything together on a single page. Medivality is a bit more accessibly. Each device has its own page, with additional information. Not a pleasant read to be honest.
  2. Of course the movie buffs created a few lists of their own and I used the one from Movie Buff. And yes, of course it comes with graphic images.

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