Make-up artist’s film shown to jury in obscenity trial
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2012 8:06PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 12, 2012 8:27PM EST
An expert psychologist testified at the trial of Remy Couture Wednesday to say the make-up artist’s work is obscene and illegal because it features extreme violence and sexuality.
Couture is on trial for producing the short film Inner Depravity, which was supposed to highlight his special effects skills, but instead drew police attention.
The judge agreed to speed up the process of watching violent images created by Remy Couture because it made the seven women and five men on the jury uncomfortable.
But there was no fast-forward button, however, when they had to watch two short films, called Inner Depravity I and II.
The films involve rape, torture, mutilation and necrophilia, some of it in the presence of a child actor.
The images were so shocking, the court clerk had trouble focusing on the job at hand Wednesday morning.
The jurors were also visibly uncomfortable watching the gory scenes.
There was some debate Wednesday over whether the site offered a viewer warning.
The Crown and Montreal police said they didn't find any sort of warning while examining the contents on the website.
But the defence introduced its own evidence showing there was a warning -- one that clearly stated there was graphic content on the site, that no one was harmed in the creation of the work and that the site was dedicated to horror and special effects.
"No one was hurt in the creation of these images," a screen capture of the warning said.
Couture's lawyer, Robert Dore, produced copies of the warning from 2007, 2008 and 2009. The videos in question also have credits at the end identifying the various people taking part in the production of the short films, including the actresses portrayed as victims.
Psychologist weighs in
Psychology professor Neil Malamuth from the University of California in Los Angeles was brought it to speak to the court.
He has conducted many studies on the impact of exposure to sexually explicit or sexually violent pornography.
This was his judgment on Couture's work:
"(This) clearly constitutes media content where a dominant characteristic is the portrayal of sex in the context of violence, horror, cruelty and crime."
The prosecution's case rests on the argument that mixing graphic violence with pornography is considered obscene material and therefore illegal.
Malamuth also claimed that images like this can trigger deviant people, who may get aroused by images of violent pornography.
The professor argued that studies have shown a parallel between exposure to violent sexuality like this can feed into the fantasies of some people.
He also felt it can desensitize the population in general towards the use of violence in sex.
The fact that the images appeared to be readily accessible on the Internet was also cause for concern, Malamuth concluded.
The trial has heard that Interpol was first alerted to the images and videos in 2006 by an Internet user in Austria; the scenes were deemed so realistic that a pathologist in Europe couldn't rule out the possibility that a real homicide had been committed.
The file landed on the desk of various Quebec police forces. Eventually, Montreal police got the file in early 2009 but proceeded slowly because it had no experience dealing with a charge like this.
Couture was arrested in October 2009 and pleaded not guilty to the three charges in 2010. He has argued that the state has no business defining what art is, or infringing on his right to free expression.
His testimony will be followed by a criminal profiler from the Ontario Provincial Police.
The trial resumes Thursday.
Two weeks have been set aside to hear evidence.
With files from The Canadian Press