Discussion in 'Entertaining Diversions' started by Lizard_King, Dec 15, 2012.
Just so long as we're on the same page here.
Why don't you quote whatever it is that you are responding to? I don't see any "vaguely complimentary remarks"; they are pretty specifically oriented around embracing her use of torture as artistically justified versus being a neanderthal who thinks doing a movie "about" something bad inherently sides with it.
I thankfully want to say that I'm posting in a thread of people who understand that reading is not comprehension, and if it was, no troll could ever argue in bad faith; no poster could ever take the bait, and no flame wars could ever derp into the knotty subjects of our time.
I'm responding to the discussion around the quote that
Bryce provided, specifically:
The quote reads to me as vaguely complimentary of the people giving her the award; unless someone goes full-on troubled auteur, they're generally required to make those kind of noises about the people who give them awards. She's also making a more general point defending her film which, again, is pretty par for the course unless you're Tony Kaye. Even Michael Bay thinks his shit doesn't stink.
All of which is my way of saying that I don't understand the disdain for Bigelow in this thread and I'm not sure why the quote above, in particular, makes her worthy of derision, particularly because I'm not convinced that what she's saying is wrong (i.e., just because you show something doesn't mean you've endorsed it).
I should say that I haven't seen the movie; maybe it's actually a love-letter to water-boarding and Justin Bieber as psychological torture.
I don't think the issue people are taking with Bigelow is simply boiling down to accusing her of endorsing torture, and it's quite something to paint all detractors into some veritable strawman army. It's something else altogether to pitch your art as a hyper-realistic look into current events that can inform viewers about what's really going on and then misconstrue a lot of shit while still maintaining that "hyper-real" facade as a commercial selling point.
I'm talking about the stuff that's been said in this thread about the statement I quoted, I'm not sure what you're talking about.
Bah, whatever though! I don't think I've even seen a trailer for this yet so I've no idea why I'm throwing my 2 cents in!
As I understand it the background here is that people object to Bigelow opting heavily for an implied verisimilitude as a major (and very successful) hook to the Hurt Locker, (leaving aside ZDT which I know less of.)
The objection isn't to the Ernst Jünger-and-water message about war as a thrilling addiction, it's to taking a faux-hyper-realism approach to subjects of great moment - the modern war experience it seems to depict, PTSD as it depicts it - but not, in fact, having the excellent truth/care/seriousness/research to back that "verisimilitude" up. With a sidebar being all the people then going around sententiously talking about a shallow representation of these things AS the serious things, and a sidebar to that being the specific case of Qt3ers doing so.
Whatever the discussions of ZDT, that underlying "Bigelow is on thin ice on the basis of the past Hurt Locker discussion on QT3 and here" backround is a big part of the tone of the conversation. For all that the Hurt Locker thread became a ghastly injoke/social fiasco, the criticisms LK made there were well made/taken. Rewatching the Hurt Locker I basically thought "yup."
I find Naomi Wolf hard to pin down. In interviews she comes across as grave and down to earth. She's a good writer. But sometimes her opinions seem extremely hysterical. I recall back in 2007, she was doing her Godwin thing again, earnestly and urgently promising Americans that Bush was going to militarize state police forces and force a constitutional amendment to allow himself to be elected to a third term as Emperor, Julius Caesar style. I'll try to dig up a link.
Maybe you meant this to be more emphatic, but my initial response is "so how does this make up for A: flights of theatre like the one you mentioned and B: passing off a whole lot of neo-situationist boutique anti-the-man drivel as actual leftism."
IIRC I started sharply taking issue with her around the time I read The Rebel Sell. It isn't a perfect book and I think one of its authors eventually wandered off into right wing liberalism but it makes a good point about a certain late-20th-century neosituationist impulse of "rebellion" tying into politics as a perrsonal experience and expression of personal authenticity and values. It was sort of a finger-snap moment for me, as a party-hack-friendly, enthusiast-averse centre-leftist, about why certain strands of radical politics bothered me - not because they were far left - often I was left of them - but because they struck me as sort of non-consequentialist and self- or style-oriented.
I don't recall to what extent the book actually picked on Klein - they did single out her and Adbusters as red-herring purveyors - and to what extent I just became more critical of her at the same time.
I'm afraid I'm going to have to confiscate the rest of your hyphens and dashes.Just turn over the whole lot, and we won't have to call in a Gallant.
I would prefer to stick to things we can actually quote and put front and center because otherwise it's easy for the SHE JUST CALLED BIGELOW'S MOVIE THE HOLOCAUST stuff to get out of hand, unless you have specifics of the work in question you can reference. She just seems like someone who has a lot of interesting and bold insights but has a lot of trouble code-switching outside of her particular political/philosophical cohort. I mean, maybe the willingness to keep that stuff in is the reason why she's writing in the Guardian rather than a blog somewhere, but it just seems like it comes out of her almost without any self-awareness of how it damages the careful work that precedes it.
The more coffee I drink the more baroque the clauses get.
The tl;dr was actually there sort of as a caveat emptor context dump, however it came out. I have baggage with what I see as a species of masturbatory politics-as-virtuous-performance-art fifth column in leftism (tied in part to the history of party politics in Canada prior to 2011) and it's tangled up with my dismissal of Klein as an intellectual infotainer. Tangential to the thread.
I understand the context behind this stuff - I'm a veteran of the Hurt Locker Wars. And yeah, LK's criticism were well made in the QT3 thread on that film but I ultimately didn't agree with him because I tend to take claims of verisimilitude in this kind of film with a pinch of salt. I absolutely understand where he was coming from, given (what I remember of) his background and the basis for his frustrations.
Different strokes, but if you see it lying around on netflix/DVD, try watching it again in light of the criticism. Kind of sealed the deal for me.
I've a huge back-catalogue of movies to get through first* but it's bound to be on telly sometime.
* anyone ever heard of 'The Godfather II'? I believe it's worth a look.
It doesn't really, it's just that sometimes it's hard to tell when she's being crazy and when I'm just unfamiliar with what she happens to be citing.
So I guess there's a lot of smirking on the news today that Bigelow was not nominated for a Director Oscar, but it seems like the film did pretty well to me.
The gloating seems to be rooted in the assumption that a movie nominated for Best Picture but NOT nominated for Best Director has no chance of winning Best Picture.
Ah. Well then that is delightful. I definitely assumed this would be a shoe-in.
Speaking of which
From this collection, although I'm sure there's a fine college humor page devoted to it somewhere.
That quote sounded an awful lot like some of the defenses of Cop Killer. Just because I made a song glamorizing killing cops, doesn't mean I endorse killing cops. Ice T speaks the truth about the inner city and Katherine Bigelow speaks the truth about the War on Terror, even if neither actually endorses all aspects of their respective subject.
Thanks for explaining that, as I don't really associate Cop Killer with Ice-T anymore. They seem to me to be fundamentally different approaches to marketing, though, since Bigelow seems a lot more self-aware and cynical in the buttons she pushes to make her movies feel truthful without giving a damn about the evidence surrounding her key themes. They just seem like differently problematic situations, if indeed Cop Killer is problematic at all beyond being kind of a shitty song.
But I guess to each their own.
Yeah, I don't think the parallels are that close - it's just where my mind first went upon hearing that quote. And actually, gangster rap in general, which is full of guys wink, wink, nudge, nudge not endorsing the things they rap about.
Again, thanks for clarifying. Suffice to say that I think there's a big difference between legitimate freedom of expression defenses surrounding art outside of the mainstream that is actually transgressive, and the sort of self-indulgent transgression (primarily through deceitful marketing) that Bigelow practices. Which at this point could be the outcome of smoking her own product, so I don't know exactly where to draw the line.
I love how every year, the media characterizes a large distributed group of voters as a single sentient consciousness called "The Academy", which has a personality and an agenda, and will deliberately snub some and reward others. Every year, the Best Director award is an imperfect match for the Best Picture award. It's unsurprising, since only directors vote for the Best Director award, whereas all academy members vote for Best Picture. They're never going to match up perfectly when you have a system like that -- even less likely now that one category can have up to ten nominees and the other only has five. It doesn't mean anything. Tell that to the narrative-craving entertainment media though.
(This isn't directed at you LK, just an expression of my general frustration with these stupid sham ceremonies, which are so arbitrary, yet have so much power over what kinds of movies get made.)
Some of those are funny, most are terrible. In regards to Zero Dark Thirty it is most definitely not the Hurt Locker, other than the context being the War on Terror and the directorial style there's nothing at all similar between them. The Call of Duty reference isn't bad but the military operation is maybe 20 minutes of the movie and not really the point.
I saw the movie last night and I'm curious how many here have actually seen it? For all the torture talk surrounding the movie it's not about that and the torture is neither celebrated nor condemned, it's simply there and isn't even there that much. I've seen worse torture scenes in many other movies, the only thing that makes this controversial is that it's based on actual torture. If the movie was pure fiction and not a portrayal of actual events people wouldn't bat an eye. This is very much a movie about a person and their obsession to the point where it consumes their life.
The problem is the movie is asserting as fact and "based on truthiness" what is utterly false.
So the problem with the movie is that it took some creative license?
There are a ton of factual inconsistencies in the entire movie, it's not nor is it intended to be a 100% factual retelling of the events. Just with that character tons of stuff was changed, his name, where he was kept (in the movie he was in Pakistan, not Guantanamo), etc. Seriously, you're complaining because they portrayed a character which is loosely based on a real person having suffered in ways the real person didn't? If it makes you feel better they did show the music and dog stuff as well as the waterboarding and beating. Ammar is the only character which we see tortured and they clearly use this to portray torture methods that were known to be used in these situations. I think you need to realize again that it's a movie and not a documentary.
But that's the problem: most people will basically treat it like a documentary. It's all well and good for me to know that it's not real, but if everyone else on my street thinks it is then I'm fighting a losing battle.
Well, the other thing is that if it is not supposed to be an accurate portrayal of the hunt for and assassination of Bin Laden, why make it about Bin Laden? Why not make it about a different, fictional terrorist leader like Bin Laden? Then she could take whatever liberties she likes. The fact that the movie is about real things that happened to real people means that it is fair game to criticize departures from what really happened, especially in terms of questioning why those departures were made.
Also, it was marketed as THIS IS WHAT REALLY HAPPENED, which doesn't help with people realizing it's not a documentary.
I will give a flying fuck as soon as I see the outcry about Argo.
The discussion on this board isn't with those people and the opinion that you attribute to them is irrelevant until such time as they post it to the forum themselves. It's a movie and not entirely factual with lots of creative license being taken. If we both know that then who cares what other people who aren't involved in the discussion think.
Why make any piece of entertainment that's based on actual events? Because people already have an interest in those events, in short marketing.
Yes marketed, that doesn't mean it's a point for point retelling of what actually happened. You're smart enough to know the difference between reality and what's marketed aren't you?
Context matters, given that torture is a live issue in American politics. If nothing is at stake then historical accuracy matters a lot less. Whether or not Argo was accurate carries no consequences. Inaccurate portrayals of torture can carry real consequences. For example, consider how the portrayal of torture in 24 impacted the discourse around torture to the extent that at least one Supreme Court justice was affected by it. I haven't seen this movie, but I can certainly understand why people are upset about it.
As far as I am concerned, "I want to make more money" is not a good reason to warp the public perception of contentious events.
But that's the entire point of this discussion in the first place.
I am. Many people aren't. That's the problem, the reason we're having this discussion, and what I and others have been saying. This really isn't that hard.
It's not about historical accuracy per se. It's about the connection between artistic choices and the marketing-as-realism of movies. With Argo, you have choices like car chases and dramatic tension added to what would otherwise constitute a caper movie about paperwork; it's not good history, but it's easily corrected because the artistic choices that were made are easily understood if arguable even then (ie why focus on physical appearance over all other things for casting, and why is that something that's supposed to impress us? Why not include a more forthright disclaimer? And so on). It's not a binary distinction, of course, but what Bigelow did with Hurt Locker and appears to have done with ZDT is pretty far away from that on the spectrum. There is no clear rationale for the use of torture beyond it being a realistic take on the events being described; as Alex says, no one would give a shit (or the same kind of shit) if she didn't wrap it in authenticity. I don't mind inaccurate movies; I mind inaccurate movies marketed as authentic impressions of what we know of the events in question, especially when the agenda the moviemakers operate under is so nakedly exploitative.
I also mind that I still get emails from people I haven't talked to in ages about how they just saw the Hurt Locker and they thought of me when they saw it. Obviously I don't mind the emails per se, as I take it as an opportunity to explain it for the nth time, but I mind that the hole has been dug so deep in the first place (and it is deep, Chick is hardly the only one to react with something other than interest when doubts are raised). For some reason, no sane person saw Point Break and started phoning their cop buddies to do that kind of thing, and it's not because they are movies that are substantively different. It's that which interests me beyond the movie, and the reaction of many critics and viewers vs people in the intelligence community really suggests we're at a similar uncomfortable point between fact and fiction.
Then the issue isn't with the movie, the issue is people. There is nothing wrong with this movie.
A more substantive response will have to wait until I actually see ZDT (which isn't playing at my preferred theater until tomorrow, for some reason), but one thought: could it be that the reason people are more inclined to take this movie (and The Hurt Locker before it, which I also haven't caught up with) as reflecting reality because the events they depict are incredibly far removed from their everyday life? In other words, because the movie (as I understand it) does not approach Rambo-levels of superheroic feats but involves top-secret military and intelligence operations, which are events that take place in places and circles far removed from most people's lives, might be people be more inclined to accept it as truthy? If that's so, I have a hard time laying the blame for it with Bigelow, as I believe creative people should be able to trust that adults will understand that fiction is fiction, even when based on or inspired by real events.
I also can't speak to how the movie has been marketed, as I haven't seen any commercials and only saw bits of one trailer as I was sitting down for another movie. I will take your word for it that marketing oversells the realism, but I wonder how much interaction any of the creative team had with the marketers.
I think that's probably about right.
Well that's optimistic, but I agree that it's not usually the fault of the filmmaker, who is free to make whatever kind of movie they want. I think people misunderstand what it means for a movie to be "based on a true story," and really the best thing might be for that term to be completely forsaken in favor of "inspired by real events," as in "something happened in real life and I said to myself, 'Hey! That gave me an idea for a movie!" The latter, I would hope at least, should give people a more realistic picture of how accurate the thing they're watching is. Either way though, it's a marketing issue first and foremost.
In general I don't like to blame creative people for the marketing of their products. But look: Bigelow's reputation, post-Hurt Locker, is for authenticity and realism. This is a product of both the marketing for and the reception of THL and ZDT. Bigelow isn't some tortured artist working out of a cave in France; she's making popular, commercial, middlebrow thrillers and it's in her interest to promote her films as authentic and realistic, because that's her brand and it's a successful one. I don't think there's anything especially wrong with that, but then again I don't have a problem with confusing movies with reality.
sinfony I'm speaking specifically of how Bigelow describes her films and how that is presented among people who are into film culture, and while the ad copy is a part of that I think it's the inside baseball chatter about the realness of the films that gives them their appeal. I think both her and Boal do a fair bit of dissembling around the authenticity of their movies, and it works. Lest we forget, I didn't even plan on seeing the Hurt Locker until people made me curious by saying that I, as a veteran who was into movies, really owed it to myself to endure a mediocre action movie veiled in a slapdash collection of headline leftovers. The effect of that lack of transparency about making Point Break Iraq really was a dealbreaker for me.
Again, I think it's really cool when a film or show can build a bridge between an interesting or meaningful reality you can't know personally, even when it's only impressionistically true (as with Jarhead) or focused on one specific strata in that story (as with Generation Kill). But there's a hard-to-describe component of good faith that goes into that, and I strongly feel that Bigelow lacked that with the Hurt Locker.
Now, to what extent that carries over to ZDT, I can't say yet and I won't have the same level of connection to the subject matter when I do see it. But I suspect that if you've pierced the veil once, it's not that hard to take apart the trappings of Bold Uncomfortable Truths and see what's left. I think you would understand better if you had seen the Hurt Locker in the context of this kind of stuff, setting aside the windier interviews or Boal's endless self-love, but it's really hard to address what I'm getting at here without having either movie to reference directly.
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