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Western Society, Pop Culture, and the Cacophony of Social Media
#36

A great even-handed piece by Tasha Robinson on the predictable hubbub over Matt Zoller Seitz's experience of showing his 11-year-old son and his friends ALIENS for the first time.



https://thedissolve.com/features/exposit...or-any-ot/



I think this covers a lot of what this thread is about.

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#37
AThis is not a fully formed idea, and I will ramble, but I cannot escape the feeling that there is a connection between targeted search engines and the looming death of cinematic literacy.

I don't want to get harsh here, but it seems to me that there is a widening gulf between the nature of classic storytelling, how plots are constructed, and how films are generally made, and the audience's ability to reconcile that with their own worldview.

A targeted search engine is like digitized myopia, narrowing the margin of what you consume, looping and relooping content in the same wheelhouse. Your worldview becomes smaller and smaller until it ends up resting on your nose. You lose something, even if you don't immediately recognize it.

In film discussion, there seems (to me) to be an increase in people stating that a filmmaker got something or another "wrong". That's usually tossed about in snap analysis when something occurs in the narrative of a film that said viewer cannot reconcile with their own belief system and they bridge this gap with something that does not follow. It doesn't have to be a major thing either.

For example, if a film employs characters who commit crimes to tell a story about the politically and economically oppressed, it can, from a certain POV, turn into the filmmaker getting "something wrong" and propagating the stereotype of the poor as criminals. Nevermind if the plot is action-based and the only way your protagonists can get what they need is via illegal means so the screenwriter can effectively drive the plot forward, and nevermind the Golden Age of Bank Robbery where the disenfranchised peoples of a nation were suffering and pissed off at the powers that be and raised people like John Dillinger to mythic status.

It becomes a thing where it's not just about a disagreement on the story being told, or the perspective being shared, it's like a total air ball on the general mechanics of filmmaking.
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#38
AI'm probably not making sense there, but that's okay. Snap analysis. I just shat that out on my phone.
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#39

Haha. It's okay. I am kinda having trouble understanding what you mean.



Are you talking about people's tendency to reduce complex social matters into simplistic matters of black and white, good or evil?

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#40
AIt's actually the opposite. It's someone applying a very complicated read on something that's simple and functional. Like looking at IKEA instructions and extrapolating from it the fall of Weimar Germany. It's a step above (or below) misinterpretation.

I'll throw out another example. I don't want to talk about this movie, but I think it'll make my thoughts easier to understand.

TDKR. A contentious subject for a number of reasons, but one of the weirdest reactions that I read was a review / analysis of the film that accused it of subtle homophobia.

The writer stated the opinion that Selina Kyle and Juno Temple's characters were intentionally queer-coded because they lived together and in one scene, Temple hugs Selina Kyle in a very affectionate manner that read as a lover's embrace.

The film becomes homophobic when Wayne convinces Kyle to redeem her criminal leanings (queerness) and form with him what will eventually become a romantic coupling.

That's an extreme example, but it was really, really bizarre, especially because the author was so passionate and angry about it. Interpretive analysis is interpretive analysis, but how do you get ANGRY off of that? The legwork outside of the text is already kind of exhaustive, and to be pissed about something that you can in no logical way assume was the intent, is incredibly strange.
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#41
A[quote name="JacknifeJohnny" url="/community/t/153185/western-society-pop-culture-and-the-cacophony-of-social-media#post_3852951"]For example, if a film employs characters who commit crimes to tell a story about the politically and economically oppressed, it can, from a certain POV, turn into the filmmaker getting "something wrong" and propagating the stereotype of the poor as criminals. Nevermind if the plot is action-based and the only way your protagonists can get what they need is via illegal means so the screenwriter can effectively drive the plot forward, and nevermind the Golden Age of Bank Robbery where the disenfranchised peoples of a nation were suffering and pissed off at the powers that be and raised people like John Dillinger to mythic status. [/quote]


I think I get you. Our hypothetical depiction of the criminalized poor can be a satire of the economy itself, depicting the system as one where the poor cannot survive within the law.
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#42
ABy the way, I know I seem to be targeting liberal ideologies a lot, but if I'm going to poop, I prefer to use my own toilet. I am not partial to Conservative thought and so I find it less interesting to challenge its ideals and presumptions.
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#43
Aeugh too much people who took a semester of comparative cinema/literature!
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#44
Quote:

Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny View Post

I am not partial to Conservative thought and so I find it less interesting to challenge its ideals and presumptions.

And conservative thought is generally pretty simplistic when it comes to reactions to pop culture.

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#45
AThere is a tendency to read minority characters (or just stuff that passingly relates to a group) as representing a movie's attitude to the minority group as a whole.

It's a double edged sword because yeah, there's often value in doing that, especially if there's other stuff in the movie to support the idea that a certain attitude is being presented. But the other side is if you get too self conscious about it and deliberately balance your minority characters against negative stereotypes, you risk dehumanising them by not letting them just be flawed, messy people like everyone else.

I probably should've put this in the thread in question, but I was thinking about this when a poster here was going off on one about the GTA games reinforcing black stereotypes by having a black lead character, and how they should've gone against the grain and made him a digital computer hacker or something (nevermind that it would turn into a completely different game).

Now admittedly I haven't played GTA5 so can't say much about the representation in that game, but I have played all the others and it strikes me as weird to get up in arms the second you have a black character doing the *exact same stuff* everyone else has always done in those games. Isn't it more important that (like in San Andreas) the characters are halfway well written, with distinct personalities etc than just having them be model reverse-stereotypes?
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#46

Thought this might be a good place to drop this stuff:



http://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/v...ut-culture

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#47
ABacklash gaining steam!

He makes a good point about how this stuff can just turn into an empty social display - a way to prove yourself worthy of the elite in-crowd by casting out others for not making the cut.

If anyone missed this Jon Ronson article I recommend it:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/20...jon-ronson

I also came across this blogger a while back who has some interesting thoughts on the topic:

http://fredrikdeboer.com/2015/01/29/i-do...-you-guys/ (this one is in reference to a Jon Chait New York Magazine article that was a slightly hamfisted attempt to deal with similar stuff)

THINKPIECES
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#48
AAW YEA DROWNING IN PIECETHINK
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#49
AThose are pretty good. I made it all the through them because I agree with them and don't like opinions different than mine.
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#50

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul C View Post

There is a tendency to read minority characters (or just stuff that passingly relates to a group) as representing a movie's attitude to the minority group as a whole.

It's a double edged sword because yeah, there's often value in doing that, especially if there's other stuff in the movie to support the idea that a certain attitude is being presented. But the other side is if you get too self conscious about it and deliberately balance your minority characters against negative stereotypes, you risk dehumanising them by not letting them just be flawed, messy people like everyone else.

I probably should've put this in the thread in question, but I was thinking about this when a poster here was going off on one about the GTA games reinforcing black stereotypes by having a black lead character, and how they should've gone against the grain and made him a digital computer hacker or something (nevermind that it would turn into a completely different game).

Now admittedly I haven't played GTA5 so can't say much about the representation in that game, but I have played all the others and it strikes me as weird to get up in arms the second you have a black character doing the *exact same stuff* everyone else has always done in those games. Isn't it more important that (like in San Andreas) the characters are halfway well written, with distinct personalities etc than just having them be model reverse-stereotypes?

Not really a good argument to make that just because it's always been that way people shouldn't complain. It's important to take in account context: How many GTA games there has been, and the fact that people are just generally tired of playing the same shit.

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#51
ABut there's a GTA mod where you can play as Marty in the Delorean WITH music and WITH time travel capabilities!

* I havent played it. Only watched the youtube vid.
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#52
A[quote name="JacknifeJohnny" url="/community/t/153185/western-society-pop-culture-and-the-cacophony-of-social-media#post_3853905"]Those are pretty good. I made it all the through them because I agree with them and don't like opinions different than mine.[/quote]

Me too man. The second I get a whiff that an article isn't gonna pat me on the back for already being right about everything I switch that shit *right* off.


[quote name="Ska Oreo" url="/community/t/153185/western-society-pop-culture-and-the-cacophony-of-social-media#post_3853907"]Not really a good argument to make that just because it's always been that way people shouldn't complain. It's important to take in account context: How many GTA games there has been, and the fact that people are just generally tired of playing the same shit.
[/quote]

I dunno, GTA games on the whole are pretty good at trying new things each time out, and there aren't *that* many compared to Call Of Duty or whatever.

Thing is, there's two separate questions here, one is whether the GTA games are acceptable in the first place, given the kinds of stuff you do in them. The other is whether they should only let you play as a majority demographic to make sure no one thinks they're making a racist statement by having them do tons of anti-social stuff, even if it's the same anti-social stuff characters in these games always do.

For the record I'm not saying people who disagree with me on this are wrong (in the end, I'm a white english dude so I'm not going to tell other people in different places how they should and shouldn't feel about things), but in general I think it's better to get people educated and able to think critically about their entertainment than encouraging entertainment to only be safe, inoffensive to avoid corrupting or upsetting anyone.

I get the argument against the characters in GTA, but at the same time, San Andreas was probably the first high profile video game to have a predominantly african american cast, which I would've thought was a win even if they're not exactly squeaky clean role model characters.
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#53

Figured this belonged in this thread.



http://www.salon.com/2015/03/11/salons_p...ce_summit/

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#54
AAlso this in regards to what we eat:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/sty...-time.html
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#55
AI have never heard of this woman before just now, but she makes me gag. Bill Maher also brought up the whole azodicarbonamide / yoga mat thing and it seemed just as specious. Reminds me of the whole raw foodist thing and one of the guys behind it was interviewed going on about how the "negative energy from a poor Mexican kid who hates his job is just getting pressed into the processed food he's slapping together for your consumption" or somesuch nonsense. No joke, the guy said this racist / classist shit and it hit every single nerve it could have possibly hit. It was an incredible combination.

Cynicism. It may make you miserable, but it keeps assholes at arms length.
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#56

Oh no! The same chemicals are used in many products!



I'm as big into keeping our food as safe and unmolested as possible but these kinds of half-educated yahoos really get on my nerves.

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#57

Hmm...I take that woman about as seriously as I'd take anyone who refers to themselves as "The Food Babe".  Read; Not one fucking jot.  It really typifies the excess of western culture that food is so cheap and richly abundant in First World countries that people can actually make a name for themselves criticizing the making thereof without doing any actual research.



That Salon interview just reminded me why I love Patton Oswalt so much and why I can't fucking stand Salon all in one.

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#58

Apologies to all, because this is a massive DeRail.  


I've actually been thinking about our current cultural situation quite a bit.  (shocking right?) But I think what makes this site so important is that it allows people the chance to intelligently digest cinematic experiences and chew them over.  Motion Pictures, and the art of cinematic experience is being completely abused in our social media culture by malevolent agents and the ability to learn more about how cinematic techniques work is almost a fucking public service at this moment.  

I think we take it for granted that everybody here knows that directors know how to manipulate emotions and feelings in order to make a point, but these techniques are being co-opted by the corporate and political sphere and that needs to be understood.  It's an extreme example, but take ISIS and the way they make their videos.  They know what they are doing when they edit their propaganda bullshit and it's extremely effective towards their target audience; poor pissed off kids who have had no exposure to this stuff before.  It's dangerous stuff, motion picture technology, and in the wrong hands, it can be extraordinarily abused.  

I don't believe we exist in a "They Live" type environment where the masses are being puppeted by nefarious, selfish elements in society, but who knows what kind of information will be available for people down the line.  Currently, the types of manipulation being done through film are pretty tame and obvious, it's basically all commercials and advertisements but it's there and it disinforms people all the time.  People get suckered into buying all types of products because how they are presented in our Social Media, clothes, cars, food, and the physical properties of any of those products are purely disregarded.  Companies like Monsanto, GE, Investment Banks, etc.. get 45 second spots on PrimeTime TV that show off their humanitarian side and try to paint themselves as PR wet dreams while they destroy the economy and stash billions in overseas banks.  But all that gets glossed over if they show an Iowa farmer wiping the sweat of his brow as the word Monsanto gleems in the sky.  Because Monsanto means hard work.  

Maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but cinema allows the viewer an illusion, we all know this, but the more cinema gets appropiated into our collective consciousness, I fear that illusion will quickly become reality.  How soon till it's all just Disneys?

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#59
AThat's not a derail, it's actually totally on point w/ the purpose of the thread. Also, as I mentioned, this thread is more or less immune to derails.
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#60

Well there was a discussion going on, just thought I'd give a heads up that my post was not about that discussion

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#61
APatton Oswalt is a misogynist because he referenced "housewives"...http://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/1077959/why-we-should-feel-sorry-for-patton-oswalt
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#62
AI feel like she and I read different Salon interviews with Patton Oswald.
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#63
AI found the Salon interview to be problematic in that it's two people talking over one another about minutiae with the idea that they're talking about BIG IDEAS.
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#64
AAlso, the title of that article and the overall approach is exactly my problem with clickbait invective. It did it's job in that it got my attention, but like other pieces of its kind, it's shit journalism for LCD intellectualism. I don't think I'm striking the pose of an MRA here, but does the dictionary definition of misogynist not count for something? I wouldn't call Oswalt's comment sexist either, but surely that would be a closer to accurate label, no? It would, but it's not used because it doesn't have the same "flair" as misogynist. Sexism is a more delicate and complicated word that engenders discourse, but misogynist, now that's a word that gets your teeth grinding and your blood up. One of a number of words in the current cultural rolodex that closes the library.


Edit: This approach also flies in the face of my view of progressive ideology as a thing meant to unite and broker ideas. By labeling Oswalt a misogynist, that writer chooses to turn another progressive into an enemy because he used an analogy she didn't like. Not because it was entirely false, which it was not, but because it was gendered. He could have said something else, but he chose the image of the harried, morally righteous housewife to make his point. Okay. So then just say, "I think that's a limiting concept" and I would totally agree with that. Of course that simply isn't good enough. Not nearly enough sting to get the required clicks.
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#65
Quote:

Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny View Post

Patton Oswalt is a misogynist because he referenced "housewives"...http://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/1077959/why-we-should-feel-sorry-for-patton-oswalt

Jesus. It's not even what she's talking about that irks me, it's how she says it. It's so drenched in sarcasm and self-righteous fury that even someone who might even think Oswalt's comments were wrong would think she's full of it.

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#66
AThat's usually how I gauge these things. It's not what you take offense to (within reason). It's the way you articulate it.
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#67
A"I'm not sure about the way you put that" is a phrase sorely out of vogue in this age.
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#68
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnooj82 View Post

That's usually how I gauge these things. It's not what you take offense to (within reason). It's the way you articulate it.

And it also makes me question the writer and what exactly their deal is. Like are they trying to talk about something or are they just lashing out. I do believe there are many damaged people walking around and those damaged people love to join a cause and then completely fuck it up.

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#69
Quote:

Originally Posted by Waaaaaaaalt View Post
 

And it also makes me question the writer and what exactly their deal is. Like are they trying to talk about something or are they just lashing out. I do believe there are many damaged people walking around and those damaged people love to join a cause and then completely fuck it up.


I wouldn't say damaged. Because it's the type of thing that can, and has, happened to all of us. It's a reaction for the sake of reaction, nerd-raging at something without really taking the time to consider what we're reacting towards.

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#70
AI doubt there's anything notable about the writer, that article's a symptom of larger trends. Right now smacking people down for any lapse in ideological etiquette gets you attention, makes you part of an elite in crowd, proves your moral purity, can make you money and feels good to boot. Who can blame someone for getting swept up in the finger-pointing fun? What it *doesn't* do, as far as I can tell, is any tangible good.
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