Tuesday, April 25, 2006

TV, DoaN: Jack Bauer Must Die!

[TBO's Note: I still plan on delving into why consecutive or modified consecutive programming blocks can be ultimately beneficial for all involved, but this tangentially related topic, kinda took my focus. - tbo]

I mean seriously, that's the only way 24 can have a satisfying ending at the end of it all; its central hero must be dead...really, truly dead.

Sadly, Sutherland's signed up for another three years, so...I gotta say, after watching this season, I just wonder where there is left to go, for these guys. I mean, so far, S5 has been pulling out all the stops, what more could they do?

My proposal for S8: Let David Lynch loose on the project, go all kinds of archetypal along with Lynch's propensity for bizarre violence. That'd be a fun season to watch.

Now, I know that someone (*cough*JJ*cough*) is gonna be all "I can't believe you watch that show, it's so right wing!" Which is true, 24 is most definitely right wing entertainment, but the big qualifier here is that last word, "entertainment."

In any scenario, aren't all action enterprises essentially right wing in nature? I mean, the modern mold of action enterprises, which take after the Diehard model...Sure, every once in a while, someone will pull out something in the Poseidon Adventure vein, like Deep Impact (though, more often than not, people end up flocking to something like Armageddon).

Even this strain of action takes its lead from Westerns, and, until recently, what could be more right wing than a lone cowboy shooting it out against multiple bad guys? The Man With No Name had no laws to adhere to, he was a badass motherfucker who just shot the (sometimes foreign) bad guys and got the job done. No questions asked, his motives were pure, and the ends justified the means.

Nowhere is this line of thinking more evident than in 24, as far as entertainment is concerned (in real life, the locus resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW).

And what mythic characteristics they've given Mr. Bauer! So far, the man has personally cheated death more than a handful of times; survived the explosion of a nuclear bomb; has been tortured extensively; exposed to a magnetic pulse bomb (granted, those aren't supposed to create any damage); and held his breath while CTU was exposed to nerve gas, simply to survive it.

Not to mention numerous gigantic explosions, byzantine conspiracies, a heroin habit, and the dreadful presence of his daughter (Elisha Cuthbert, as Kim Bauer).

On top of all of that Jack Bauer is a ruthless, cold-blooded motherfucker, and it is his methods that most people object to when they talk about how right wing 24 is. He cares nothing about Miranda rights, is willing to use children and spouses, plus violence thereupon, to turn a witness, and uses torture tactics only outdone in real life.

The objection here is that by getting used to these notions in entertainment, it makes it easier to be numb to Abu Ghraib or Gitmo. Welllll, I don't know about that. Because just as often as the torture is happening to those who 'deserve' it, it also visits a number of known and unknown innocents, and those are excruciating to sit through.

Excruciating enough to make one question the legitimacy of torture? Good question.

The kind of question that is usually ignored by the entertainments previously described. Personally, I allow room for that in my entertainments, but abhor it when done in real life; a schizm many are probably familiar with. It really does depend on one's mindset...those inclined not to have such things happen to anyone regardless of their guilt or innocence will not have their minds changed, and vice versa.

It does force you to think about it, though; and sometimes, that's enough.

So, shrugging those elements aside, because this ain't about that, one of the other things I wanted to talk about is the ingenious way the writers are using the right wing actioner model to make left-wing commentary on the real world at large. Starting with the casting of Dennis Haysbert, an African-American actor, as a presidential candidate in the first season. "You are the most important presidential candidate in history," he is told in the pilot episode...Well, he would be; and only a left-wing Hollywood type would actually have him winning, especially considering some of the revelations aired in the course of the first season.

President Palmer lasted for three seasons, and he was such an ideal president, outshined only by Martin Sheen's Prez. Bartlet from The West Wing, in terms of left-wing idealism. Palmer, however, was a bit more action ready, due to the nature of the show; when Air Force One is shot down (an indelible moment for me), you half expect him to survive it. A perfect mix of statesman and gunslinger, in the King sense.

It's such an engaging show, especially when the sub-plots aren't insipid (see Kim v. Mountain Cougar, for an example). These finally stopped taking the form of "what's happening with Kim?" at the end of S3. Instead, they've taken a "check out some wacky office politics" shape, which, while still kinda random, at least they've stopped asking us to take anything related to Kim seriously. Besides, the re-focus to what happens in the CTU workplace has actually tightened the pace and upped the stakes admirably (see this season's nerve gas attack).

It has also been bolstered by some great performances throughout the seasons; Penny Johnson Jerald as Sherry Palmer, President Palmer's wife, seemed to relish a role far meatier than is usual for an African American actress; Shohreh Aghdashloo's turn as the knowing wife of the head of a terrorrist cell was both compassionate and chilling at turns. From the current season, Peter (Robocop) Weller, Jean (Designing Women) Smart, and Gregory Itzin are turning in some stellar work. Itzin, in particular, is walking such a fine line between clueless clown and man of backbone as the "banality of evil" president, I think he deserves to be rewarded with a nomination. Not that the Emmys ever notice an action show.

What makes it the breakneck adrenaline fix it is, though, is the non-stop scheduling format. This makes it particularly easy to deal with those episodes that have to be expository in nature, and can't deliver the pulse-quickening stuff, because you know that things will more than likely heat up over the next week. Compare this with Lost's current season, where they spent the majority of the season setting up the dominoes that are just now starting to fall into place...It's easy to understand why the public was whingeing as much as it was about Lost's scheduling.

S5 of 24, though, has been a headrush, with very little in the way of speedbumps along the way. One episode has just sprinted to the next, and it's been very hard to resist the charms of Sutherland and company, especially when some episodes deliver five or six action climaxes in the course of 47 minutes, as has happened a few times this season...

This is probably a lot more thought than anyone has put into a show that will likely be remembered as this generation's Mission: Impossible, despite the killer concept and execution...Whatever.

In the meantime, it's one of five shows I make the point to watch every week. For a former couch potato, that's a high compliment.

28 Comments:

At 8:23 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Let's just assume I've posted my version of people's "I just don't get it" reaction to your sports entries, and leave it at that.

Read that Rushkoff, yet?

 
At 9:58 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

I'm surprised...I would've thought you had something to say on the matter of right-wing entertainments...ah well.

I'm almost done with A Drink with Shane MacGowan after which I intend to read Bloodwork. Rushkoff is after that...Couple of weeks, tops.

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Oh, just might be more of the usual from me.

How about this:

Entertainment is just propaganda that has effectively fooled you.

 
At 10:52 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

Entertainment is just propaganda that has effectively fooled you.

Is that so? That's a pretty big blanket you're talking with there (not unusual)...

So, Shakespeare is propaganda, and so is Red Dwarf...I'm sure there are some out there who are entertained by Ziggy the comic strip, and my record collection is all propaganda...

I see the world with new eyes now. Buffy was actually getting me to vote Democrat all these years. Battlestar Galactica makes me want to join the Foreign Legion.

JJ, that is officially a load of crap. I dare you to speak on this without quoting books no one has read or getting into the abstract.

(Ly, this goes for you too.)

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger the beige one said...

I'm wondering what propaganda Adam Sandler is peddling.

 
At 11:34 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

All art is propaganda. By placing the story in the public sphere, the author function--if not the author-in-fact--is arguing for or against the behaviour of his/her protagonists (you should hear me go off on how Neil Simon is actually advertising for the economic concerns of the leisure classes--it's silly, perhaps, but no more so than worrying about Jack Bauer's feelings on the matter of Miranda). This is what allows deconstruction to flourish: the innate ability of a "text" to contain content even when it purports to have none.

I have to agree that action contains an inherently reactionary element. The same could be said for horror or noir. All of these genres have had moments where their concerns were turned in ostensibly more "liberal" directions, what with the French New Wave, the Hollywood Renaissance, etc., but come on. Action movies require good guys and bad guys; horror movies require a distinct "other"; and noir postulates that there's a line clearly delineating different levels of, and reasons for, corruption.

Tim Robbins once said something that I found interesting in an interview that came out around the time that Dead Man Walking was released. The interviewer asked him why nearly all movies about the death penalty seem to be anti-death-penalty. He replied that every time an action movie ends with the good guy issuing a clever one-liner and killing a just disarmed villain, it makes an implicit pro-execution argument.

Given those standards, our entertainment is full of strange messages. I won't go into all of them now, unless people are interested in the party trick of throwing titles at me for my quick deconstruction.

What I wonder is whether there is a knee-jerk tendency among liberals to recoil from "right wing" entertainment while willingly indulging behaviour they wouldn't actually indulge in real life in entertainments less clearly political. No one suggests there's anything ideologically unsound about our sympathies with the Firefly family in The Devil's Rejects, for instance (other than the tendency to find it icky). The way I see it, if we assume all art is propaganda, we can then it turn assume that NONE of it is, and simply regard these works on the basis of their formal conceits and their successes or failures as entertainment. The only propaganda we need worry about, then, is that which fails to hold up under formal scrutiny.

Adam Sandler peddles a decidedly mainstream style of Peter Pan complex, the desire of the garden variety frat boy to maintain his beer-swilling, promiscuous post-adolescence and his desire to solve all disputes in the parking lot.

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I dare you to speak on this without quoting books no one has read or getting into the abstract.
(Ly, this goes for you too.)


Oh, come on now. A little abstraction never hurt, provided that you can tie it into the more universally understood within a few sentences following the extraction or name-drop.

'Sides, if JJ starts dropping the theory on ya, aren't you gonna want a fellow 24 who can match him on that basis on hand for comment?

 
At 11:43 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Entertainment is just propaganda that has effectively fooled you.

Maybe . . . but so what? So we're fooled. But are we fooled by the political message, or by something else (and I swear, if you throw some "personal-is-political" bullshit into this, I'm leaving)? In the case of 24: I'm obviously not convinced that agents of our government should have impunity when it comes to interrogating prisoners. On the other hand, as an individual, I FEEL--as opposed to think, which is an important distinction--that lack of impunity is a tremendous obstacle to the assertion of what I assume to be my own "rightness". So the exhilaration is not from seeing a terrorist tortured, but from seeing a man who recognizes no accountability. It's really not all that different, in that sense, from V for Vendetta, which clearly lives at the other end of the ideological spectrum, but squarely in the same visceral territory.

 
At 3:17 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

So the exhilaration is not from seeing a terrorist tortured, but from seeing a man who recognizes no accountability.

It isn't Abu Ghraib that gets me off, its my president, George W. Bush.




Or, wait, TBO, is that too abstract for ya?

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

That's a pretty big blanket you're talking with there (not unusual)...

I do not talk to blankets. Anymore.

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

It isn't Abu Ghraib that gets me off, its my president, George W. Bush.

Now you're just being facile, the 'hound's most despised rhetorical crime.

The "man without accountability" archetype is frequently employed in both heroic and villainous roles, often in the same works. In a sense, both are pursuing some form of "truth" or "good", and in so doing see themselves beyond accountability. Only one can be right, but such sympathies are often decided arbitrarily.

And in the same post you so cavalierly quoted out of context, possibly even in the same paragraph, I noted that we always root for characters in genre films whose actions we would abhor in real life. I mean, how would you really feel about a guy who, say, dressed up like a giant bat and beat up on drug dealers?

 
At 4:00 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

hmmm...maybe it's a matter of semantics (and odds are that's exactly what it is), but I have a problem with equating art with propaganda.

That pieces of art have arguments to be made is one thing. Points of view to convey, sure. But to assume that it's all propaganda seems to negate any objective truth to be found even in the most polemical of entertainments.

In other words I don't think that Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing is any more propaganda based than John Hughes' Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Maybe it is simplistic of me to not want to consider such things on that level, but it allows me to lazily dismiss Forrest Gump as simply boring crap, and saves my energies for championing Freddy Got Fingered as an absurdist POV on America's Youth.

 
At 4:13 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Now you're just being facile...

No kidding...and simply to get a rise from us. The shame. How low have the grad students fallen.

One wonders if the joys of Mifune as Yojimbo, or Eastwood as The Man With No Name have escaped the poor dear.

My objection to abstract is that by the 10th round of replies between the two of you, the abstraction is so large, you can't really tell what the hell either of you are talking about...Boooooring.

Suck on that, bitches.

 
At 6:53 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

You watch too much fucking TV.

It's making you violent.

 
At 8:26 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Now, mainly I've just been - what was that word? - facile because it was busy day (zoo trip) and I didn't have much time to weigh in, but also because I come at media questions from such a different angle than you two.

OK, so, first we have the descriptive and prescriptive understandings. Descriptive focuses on what the thing does, while prescriptive focuses on what it might intend or ought to to do.

Right-wing entertainment of all varieties works as propaganda in that it normalizes a narrative that supports an agenda of beliefs. So does left-wing entertainment, and moderate entertainment, and pretty much any other shade of entertainment. Or art. In a descriptive sense, all art and entertainment is political and is propaganda, and Ly did a pretty good job explicating this.

Most importantly, it doesn't operate on the conscious level, or at leats doesn't have to.

Whether it ought to operate like this, or whether there is a conscious attempt to make it operate like this, that is another question. I seriously doubt that the makers of 24 are consciously using the show as a vehicle for right-wing ideology, though I wouldn't necessarily be surprised.

But, really, the reason I was so flippant right out of the gate was that I found the distinction of this as entertainment and therefore somehow outside of poltical discourse pretty arbitrary. Because, really Beigey, it was was in fact intentionally well-crafted and insidious propaganda that succeeded in hiding its intent from you, how would you know?

We understand the world in terms of narratives. The metaphors that work on a cognitive level to allow us to use terms like morality are based upon understandings of narratives. So, as much as you want to call it just entertainment, the narratives we consume do some heavy lifting in helping us construct an understanding of the world and to protect the integrity of those narratives we have already established.

If it's too boring for you, TBO, go watch TV. It has bright colors and moving pictures and is totally harmless, really. It's just entertainment.

 
At 8:36 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

hmmm...maybe it's a matter of semantics (and odds are that's exactly what it is), but I have a problem with equating art with propaganda.

I do too . . . even with visibly propagandistic art. Saying that all art is propaganda helps us to get past the propagandistic element in something like 24 to make something at least somewhat more like a formalistic argument.

That pieces of art have arguments to be made is one thing. Points of view to convey, sure. But to assume that it's all propaganda seems to negate any objective truth to be found even in the most polemical of entertainments.

On the contrary--as said above, it allows us to recognize the polemics in even the most apolemical of entertainments, which in turn gives us license to ignore it unless we're talking specifically about content.

Another way of putting it would be to say that no art is propaganda. That would achieve the same thing functionally, but I think it would actually be the more easily dismissed assertion on its face.

In other words I don't think that Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing is any more propaganda based than John Hughes' Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Exactly what I'm saying, only my suggestion is that Ferris Bueller is no less propaganda based than Do the Right Thing. Like you said, semantics. But not entirely. For instance, what is Hughes saying in that film? Like The Breakfast Club before it, Ferris Bueller seems to imagine the adult world as simultaneously oppressive and hopelessly dim. But where the earlier, surlier film separated itself from economics (but for a rudimentary issue of class represented by the conflict between Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald), Ferris Bueller's Day Off takes place in the bustling world of urban capitalism, which leads to its central contradiction: the rejection of work ethic coupled with an embrace of consumption. My suggestion is that this reading of the text is either an enriching part of the filmgoing experience or an act of masturbation (or both--surely I'm not the only one here who's had enriching masturbation); but more importantly, lays all film open to polemic interpretation, and, by extension, leaves nakedly polemical films open to purely apolemic observation.

Maybe it is simplistic of me to not want to consider such things on that level, but it allows me to lazily dismiss Forrest Gump as simply boring crap, and saves my energies for championing Freddy Got Fingered as an absurdist POV on America's Youth.

That's fine, I think; you don't have to judge all films on the same basis . . . necessarily. I obviously have big issues with Forrest Gump's content, but would probably be more forgiving if it were more interesting. Whit Stillman's belligerent conservatism, for example, didn't keep me from finding Metropolitan or Barcelona fairly hilarious.

 
At 8:49 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

I come at media questions from such a different angle than you two.

I don't know about that. Surely there are things you like just for the sheer visceral kick (?).

Most importantly, it doesn't operate on the conscious level, or at leats doesn't have to.

Indeed, I think the more conscious a level it operates on, the less it fits the propagandistic mold. Because 24 wears its heart on its right wing, I don't think it carries much danger of subliminally turning the beige or I towards the pro-torture stance.

In fact, the more I think about, the more this explains why even great political art (Midnight Oil's Diesel & Dust; John Sayles' Matewan; Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle) fails at being truly utilitarian political discourse: art, by its nature, must embrace its subjectivity, while political principles have to at least maintain a pretense of, if not objectivity, the application to the greatest possible number of subjective interests.

 
At 9:22 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

I don't know about that. Surely there are things you like just for the sheer visceral kick (?).

That may be why I choose to watch, say, Adam Sandler movies (though really they have left me pretty cold since Little Nicky). But, I'm almost always still conscious of the works poltical positioning unless I specifically, often chemically, turn off that receptor.

But, really I meant I come at media in general from a very theoretical standpoint. I find it, and its links to everything from cognitive science to little-m modern lit (reading an interesting David Foster Wallace essay on this at the moment), incredibly interesting. My way of analyizing bits of media or the mediasphere in general look like masturbation, but as you said enriching. After, a hand full of cum isn't empty.

 
At 1:52 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

But, really, the reason I was so flippant right out of the gate was that I found the distinction of this as entertainment and therefore somehow outside of poltical discourse pretty arbitrary.

About as arbitraty as anything else in this discussion, my blather included, really. I simply stated that my focus in writing the bit wasn't solely to be based on right wing entertainment v. left wing entertainment, so this first little bug up your ass is self-created.

Because, really Beigey, it was was in fact intentionally well-crafted and insidious propaganda that succeeded in hiding its intent from you, how would you know?

Because know-it-all pontificators will eventually come around and point it out to me, is that the answer you're looking for?

Here's my problem with all of this: 1) The way you're framing your half of this argument comes off as if you know what you're talking about, and you've confessed to me that you haven't seen 24, due to the right-wing actioner model. 2) The language used leaves the impression that you don't think I, and by extension all those who watch the show, know what's going on. Kinda high and mighty of you...

If it's too boring for you, TBO, go watch TV. It has bright colors and moving pictures and is totally harmless, really. It's just entertainment.

And here I remind you of a discussion you had with me about knowing who the audience is. Also what the forum is.

While neverending discussions of authorial intent, Art with capital A, and whether existentialism could be directly applied to Archie Bunker are rewarding to the three of us (at least to the point where I just shrug and say "whatever", which is probably further along than most); you have to realize that not everyone else who checks in here is on that wavelength...

I'm not telling you to shut up, as I want to foster discussion on this site, but in that same interest, do try to keep it at a point where the non-academes can chime in. Do you get where I'm coming from?

It's like public displays of attention, at some point, someone's gonna tell you to get a room.

But where the earlier, surlier film separated itself from economics (but for a rudimentary issue of class represented by the conflict between Judd Nelson and Molly Ringwald), Ferris Bueller's Day Off takes place in the bustling world of urban capitalism, which leads to its central contradiction: the rejection of work ethic coupled with an embrace of consumption.

Dude, I grok it, I totally get it, but it's Ferris Frikkin' Bueller. Just as it's King Kong, or Freddy Got Fingered, or 24.

Truly, what is the purpose of breaking down entertainments in this fashion beyond the wank?

And, yes, in asking this, I admit that I was, in essence, wanking off about King Kong, and 24...It's my blog, and these are my thoughts.

I'm also playing Devil's Advocate, for I know that part of it is to give some legitimacy to items that could easily be dismissed.

But, does everything need this treatment? Everything will eventually get this treatment, but is it really necessary?

Are there fascist underpinnings in Cameron's Aliens? Who gives a fuck, I just wanna see a hot chick blow shit up.

The same can be said for any entertainment, and that is as legitimate as the other option.

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

After, a hand full of cum isn't empty.

Just don't expect anyone to want to shake your hand.

But, I'm almost always still conscious of the works poltical positioning unless I specifically, often chemically, turn off that receptor.

Do me a favor and turn on that receptor for Happy Gilmore (that's the golf one, isn't it?), then write about it...would love to see what that looked like.

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

The language used leaves the impression that you don't think I, and by extension all those who watch the show, know what's going on.

I just don't think it matters if you know or not. I think it functions essentially the same way in either case.

Truly, what is the purpose of breaking down entertainments in this fashion beyond the wank?

Art and entertainment have the meaning we make with it. I think there is a value in questioning and engaging the narratives we consume, in honing the ability to deconstruct. It's like boosting the immune system.

You and Ly and I are all fairly aware consumers of media, but a large portion of the audience is not. So, it can work as propaganda even if you and Ly happen to have the right antibodies to counteract it. There are those who consume right-wing entertainment because it seems to espouse just common sense.

I try to bring the critical eye to evrything, so I don't start unquestioningly take those things I happen to agree with as mere common sense.


I'll see what I can do on the Gilmore reading.

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

You and Ly and I are all fairly aware consumers of media, but a large portion of the audience is not. So, it can work as propaganda even if you and Ly happen to have the right antibodies to counteract it. There are those who consume right-wing entertainment because it seems to espouse just common sense.

Natural selection dictates that we leave these people to kill each other and leave the world to us. :^)

Seriously, dude, the absence of awareness and resistance of which you speak indicates to me the sort of mind we really oughtn't labor to protect or appease. We can try to enlighten it, which may involve some of the same analysis of which you speak, but then we shouldn't be worrying about the content of our entertainment so much as the degree to which our educational system teaches the apparently lemming-minded commoner (if we're to believe your assessment of their media literacy) to use his/her tools of discernment, understanding and analysis while watching the tube.

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

Truly, what is the purpose of breaking down entertainments in this fashion beyond the wank? . . . does everything need this treatment? Everything will eventually get this treatment, but is it really necessary?

I'd say it's as necessary as the entertainments themselves, which is itself a debatable quantity. But you sort of answer your own question here:

I'm also playing Devil's Advocate, for I know that part of it is to give some legitimacy to items that could easily be dismissed.

Well, of course. How often have we talked about the Vietnam metaphors in Night of the Living Dead, the anti-consumerism of Dawn of the Dead? As you noted yourself, you can give Gump an apolitical reading because you find it boring, and Freddy Got Fingered a political one because you enjoyed it a lot and wanted to confer legitimacy upon it (though, given that I found Gump both boring AND uncomfortably crypto-reactionary, I sometimes find it useful to explain my distaste in polemical terms). You don't need to read everything in these terms, at least not as the primary or final analysis, but we obviously gain sometimes by letting it enter into the discussion.

Are there fascist underpinnings in Cameron's Aliens? Who gives a fuck, I just wanna see a hot chick blow shit up.

Fair enough.

I wouldn't say fascist; strictly survivalist at most. There was little nationalistic sentiment, though there was obviously a genocidal twist to it. But yeah, hot chicks blowing shit up makes it fun.

What I loved about Starship Troopers was that it wore its fascist satire on its sleeve while still asking you to cheer for the wanton destruction. Now THAT's genius.

 
At 10:16 AM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Seriously, dude, the absence of awareness and resistance of which you speak indicates to me the sort of mind we really oughtn't labor to protect or appease.

Protecting my own mind. Never underestimate the power of agendas to sneak up on you. It may sound paranoid, but I enjoy the picking apart so I'd do it whether I believed there were credible threats or not. One of the reasons I like Battlestar Galactica so much is it is messy with agenda strains.

(Note, please, that I'm using agenda out of convenience - not implying necessary intent.)

Really, you don't know what kind of subversive ideas are slipping past your media filters, no matter how advanced they are, because if they slip then you don't know, right? Encoded and encapsulated memes are just the way of the media world. Like germs and viruses, some for ill and some not. And it isn 't only commoners that get infected, though their infection rate is probably higher.

Ly's whole answer on the why of the picking is dandy by me. Well explicated. (I'm just having fun with that stupid fucking term now.)

What I loved about Starship Troopers was that it wore its fascist satire on its sleeve while still asking you to cheer for the wanton destruction. Now THAT's genius.

This movie is a people test for me. Have they seen and did they like ST? I've had some say "I dunno, maybe if it is satire, but..." What? IF? That's Doogie-fucking-Howser in an SS uniform at the end! (His best role next to playing himself in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.)

 
At 4:27 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

All well and good, y'all, but some points of consideration:

*There are times where it is imperative to simply shut your brain down...god knows that my enjoyment of such frivolities like Bring It On, Half Baked, Wild Things (ahem!), even The Triplets of Belleville would not be nearly as sublime if I spent the whole time thinking about why the dog was barking at the slow motion subway train, for example.

*There's still an aspect of avoidance of the actual subject matter going on here, akin to a six year old not wanting to eat brussel sprouts because they look like they'll taste bad...don't you get it? Mikey always gets the cereal! Be on guard all you want, but at least give something a shot.

 
At 5:50 PM, Blogger JJisafool said...

Yeah, you are right in the direction that the discussion went, and I'll just add two last things:

1) I've always argued that you can either be engaging/reading a text or analyzing that text in social/cultural/psychological/whatever context, but not both at once. Brings the Uncertainty Principle into the literary theory mix. I enjoy the critic role, but don't think it actually happens at the same moment as the audience role.

2) My initial comment about propaganda was pointed to inflame. I believe it, but only to a degree.

 
At 12:37 PM, Blogger thelyamhound said...

*There are times where it is imperative to simply shut your brain down...god knows that my enjoyment of such frivolities like Bring It On, Half Baked, Wild Things (ahem!), even The Triplets of Belleville would not be nearly as sublime if I spent the whole time thinking about why the dog was barking at the slow motion subway train, for example.

I essentially agree; but I also think that the reading of subtext should ideally become as reflexive as defensive motion in martial arts or emotional recall in acting, something that is done without effort or thought. Train the mind to see all things at all times.

In that sense, I disagree--partially--with JJ's assertion that the two things can't happen at the same time. They can, but only if neither of them--enjoyment/engagement or analysis/deconstruction--is something that you do in any active sense.
The only act involved can then be the choice as to which passive impulse you use as the basis of personal opinion.

Disagree about Triplets . . . ; not about the fact that enjoyment occurs on a more cellular level--it does--but specifically about the dog. With repeated watching, speculation as to why the dog barks at the train indeed makes the comedy funnier.

 
At 6:23 PM, Blogger the beige one said...

Times like this, I wonder what the hell I can do with either of you.

 

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