I came across this posting the other day and I immediately thought of you. It seems right up your alley -- there’s some world class seed-spilling going on over there.
It’s a pretty impressive bit of caterwauling that manages to be simultaneously sophist, tautological, often fabricated (or at least unsupported) and, to get to the point (something they seem to have great problems with), flat-out altogether stunningly wrong-headedly foolish and I daresay idiotic.
As I said, just your cup of fluids.
I tell you, Onan ol’ buddy, I spent a fair amount of time really dissecting the piece with a print out, a red pen, the works. The problem is there isn’t a single paragraph in the entire post – and I don’t exaggerate here, old chum – that doesn’t contain some kernel of dumbness in one form or another. And as the pages began disappearing in masses of red ink, I came more and more to the point that some stupid soapboxes just don’t need to be climbed.
I can’t emphasize this strongly enough – the intellectual shallowness of the arguments is so complete that not a single paragraph escapes censure. (I’ve scanned in a sample page – and this is one of the legible ones!)
But if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a fresh splatter offered up today, as though the author is hellbent on making sure he’s convinced us all of his idiocies. Truly, the blowhard doth protest too much.
At any rate, your tolerance for this kind of self-involved pretentious excess has always surpassed mine, so you may find amusement, or even a kindred spirit over there. But as you’re toweling yourself off, consider just these few points (to give a sample of what I mean):
First and foremost, what the whole thing really suffers from is the worst sort of inverted snobbery imaginable. It’s that sort of bullshit faux populism that should at least be called out for what it is. Note for example the careful choices of what represents “trash” – folks like Corman have long ago moved into respectability, trash that it’s ok to like. But where’s his defense of the oeuvre of David Spade? Or his professed love for the latest Freddy vs. Jason? It’s interesting to note that he can’t seem to come much more current than The Player – already 11 years old. There’s a man who’s playing it safe.
He’s also just a shabby advocate for his cause, reaching into the shallow end of the bag for the cheapest rhetorical tricks. Time and time again, he acknowledges the shortcomings of generalizations, while leaning on them to the breaking point. If his argument had merit, generalizing wouldn’t be needed. (It can sometimes come in handy when you’re trying for some shorthand but clearly brevity is not one of his concerns.) It’s the old “the jury is instructed to ignore the remarks” gambit. It’s lazy, pure and simple.
And in a piece where he argues, essentially, against segregating and differentiating, he does it time and time again! Why refer to a “guilty” pleasure? Why the need for the pejorative? His argument is that we shouldn’t feel guilty for our pleasures (as you’d know all too well, my hairy palmed amigo.) Fortunately, a few wise commentators point that out to him, though he seems determined neither to hear nor acknowledge pretty much anything anyone says.
By the way, do you notice that (at least based on the movie people we know), he hasn’t really described your average movie person, but rather your average video store geek? And I’m willing to bet that if he’d been seated beside Tarentino at a dinner party before he’d made it big, he’d have found him an annoying little pest.
And whatever he may say about trash and art not riding “in the same section of the bus” in the book world, I’m just wondering when he expects Adam Sander’s Best Actor Oscar? And take a listen to this morning’s NPR report on Sundance to get a dose of insularity and self-importance. (And someone who thinks ol’ Quentin is a “critic’s fave” can only be willfully ignoring the Kill Bill reviews … )
And yet, why the need to tag a whole group of people based on that? Frankly, I just kinda wonder what parties this poor fella is getting invited to. Most of the book people I know are passionate, committed, fascinating folks who have specific, vital takes on life, not this mediocre, homogenized vision of the world that Hollywood drums into our skulls. And I’ve also never known as self-important, humorless folks as I’ve met in the film business – the kind of people who will launch screaming fits about parking places and dismiss art films as “movies no one goes to see.”
And yet - the paradox continues! - some of the brightest most interesting folks I’ve met have been on sets and in studios, and I’ve met more than a few literary bores in my day. Imagine that! Contradiction and complexity – generalities beware! Being in both worlds, it’s a helpful bit of straddling, don’t you think?
Anyway, I’m not saying this to slam movie people – some of my best friends are movie people – but to point up the obvious problems with relying on generalities. Because the bigger point really is that there are great film people and lousy film people and great book people and lousy book people and the kinds of things that divide them (a) just really aren’t that important anyway and are probably the same kind of things that divide most people, but (b) if you’re going to obsess about categories and the like (and those who do often tend to do it from the perspective of the resentful outsider), then it helps to proceed from a more nuanced intellectual foundation that one riddled with banal generalities, empty claims, “bullshit to that” and “I don’t care” and on and on and on.
OK, Onan, I’m about to be infected by the disease I’m trying to fight, so I’ll leave you having left literally dozens of my red-penned points off this thing. I depart wondering what is it that so threatens this poor fellow – it’s such a defensive diatribe that it’s got to be about something deeper. I know the blogsphere entitles us all to a bit of self-indulgent rambling (been guilty of it myself, may even be indulging in it right here and now) but I suspect there’s something almost clinical afoot. It’s just a shame that so many people seem to allow themselves to be pulled into these idiotic cul-de-sacs like Book People v. Movie People. Why not Movie People v. Cheerleaders (I’d rather hang with the latter, I don’t care how much fun movie people are … ) Or Book People vs. Suicide Bombers? (Perhaps he’d allow Book People to come out on top of that one.) These comparisons that are nearly equally illuminating and worthwhile.
Well, keep your hands clean buddy. You may have found a new disciple.